SHINER -- It will be difficult for Shiner’s Kyle Condel to top his junior season.
Condel was selected as the Player of the Year on the Texas Sports Writers Association’s Class 1A all-state team and was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the Advocate’s all-area team after compiling a 16-2 pitching record with a 1.28 ERA that included 170 strikeouts in 1091/3 innings. Condel hit .427 with three home runs, seven doubles and 28 RBIs, while scoring 36 runs and being successful on all 28 of his stolen base attempts.
But the memory of last season that sticks with Condel is losing the decisive game of a best-of-three regional final series against Thorndale that prevented the Comanches from advancing to the state tournament.
"Even more than the player of the year and all the awards I got, the main thing I wanted was to go to state and get that state championship," Condel said. "That would mean a lot more than all the awards. It was hard to know we were so close to being there. I think that’s definitely going to drive us harder this year."
Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker hasn’t shied away from talking to his players about the Thorndale series. The Comanches had the tying run on third base in the seventh inning only see the game, the series and the season end on a double play.
"I don’t think anybody’s forgotten about it," Boedeker said. "It gives you a little drive going into the season to realize how close you were and you want to make sure you’re working on all the little things because you never know when that one little thing might make the difference."
Shiner has six returning starters in addition to Condel from last season’s team that finished 27-4. Matthew Hibbs, who will move from the outfield to shortstop, and Dalton Handley are still recovering from football injuries but should join D.J. Pustka, Julian Longoria, Ryan Lawrence and Drew Hagens to form a nucleus capable of making a deep playoff run.
"We come in and start hitting the basics right away," Boedeker said. "From Day 1 we work on our drills with the infielders and the outfielders and we work on our throwing mechanics. As far as experience goes, we’re hoping that pays off down the road."
Boedeker has high expectations for Condel, who started six of nine playoff games last season.
"We’re expecting a lot of leadership from him and he does that," Boedeker said. "With him being in the big games for us last year a lot of the kids built confidence around him and everybody just kind of feeds off him."
Boedeker is confident sophomore catcher Drew Stafford can make the transition from the junior varsity and will attempt to build pitching depth for the District 28-1A race and the postseason.
"We’re giving lots of different guys chances to throw in the scrimmages and we’ll continue to do that throughout the course of our pre-district schedule," Boedeker said. "We’re hoping some of those questions get answered."
2008 Advocate-Area Baseball Capsule
Coach: Daniel Boedeker.
Last Year’s Record: 27-4.
Last Playoff Appearance: 2007.
Returning Starters: P/OF Kyle Condel (16-2, 1.28 ERA, 109.1 IP, 170 SO, .427, 3 HR, 7 2B, 28 RBIs, 28 SB); 2B D.J. Pustka (.346, 1 3B, 6 2B); 1B Julian Longoria (.275, 9 2B); UT Ryan Lawrence (.296, 1 HR, 4 2B); UT Drew Hagens (.240); OF/SS Matthew Hibbs (.378); DH Dalton Handley (.302, 4 2B).
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.