The Class 1A state baseball champion won't be determined for over two weeks. But recent history suggests the team emerging from the Shiner-Thorndale series will be in the mix for a state title.
Senior Colten Henley will be the starting pitcher for Shiner when the Comanches play Thorndale in Game 1 of a best-of-three Class 1A regional semifinal series tonight in Smithville. Advocate File Photo / Miguel Luna
Shiner (20-6) and Thorndale (26-5) travel to Smithville today for the first game in a best-of-three regional semifinal series, which is set for 7:30 p.m. The teams will return to Smithville on Saturday for Game 2, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Game 3, if necessary will be 30 minutes after the completion of Game 2.
The Bulldogs won Game 1 and 3 of last year's regional semifinal series against Shiner and went on to win the state championship.
The Comanches won Game 1 and 3 of the 2004 regional final series against Thorndale and went on to claim the state title.
"We figured if we took care of our business they'd be there as well," Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker said. "When you get this deep in the playoffs, only the best teams are still around. You definitely have two quality baseball teams."
Shiner and Thorndale have become very familiar with each other over the last two years and keep an eye on each other during the season.
"We know each other's coaching styles," Boedeker said. "They haven't changed. They lost some kids but they've replaced them like we have. They're still an aggressive baseball team like we are. We're similar in a lot of ways."
Thorndale advanced to the regional semifinals by sweeping an area series against Charlotte last weekend. Shiner hasn't played since sweeping an area series against Benavides on May 12 and 13.
"I was concerned at first but we've been pretty consistent in practice," Boedeker said of the time off. "It's tough. But we tried to have quality workouts and we've scrimmaged among ourselves to keep us ready."
Boedeker has no doubt senior Colten Henley will be ready to pitch Game 1. Henley was the winning pitcher in Game 2 against Thorndale last season, which ended after 4 1/2 innings because of the 10-run mercy rule, and he worked into the fourth inning of Game 3 before tiring and being relieved.
"I think Colten learned last year that he doesn't have to do anything special," Boedeker said of Henley, who pitched a two-hitter against Benavides to improve his record to 10-1. "He just needs to throw strikes and change speeds. I think he's confident in his ability to get the job done."
Shiner scored 13 runs in last year's Game 2 win over Thorndale but combined to score only three runs in its Game 1 and 3 losses.
"They had good pitching but we struck out too much," Boedeker said. "We need to put the ball in play and we've done a good job of that. The key for us is going to be playing good defense. They put the ball in play. We're going to have to play good defense behind our pitchers."
The Shiner-Thorndale winner will advance to the regional final against the winner of the best-of-three game series between Fayetteville and D'Hanis ... The Class 1A state tournament is scheduled for June 9-10 at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.