CELINA – On Friday, April 13, the rains came and the hail fell at Bobcat Field in Celina. The late afternoon deluge soaked the grass and dirt environs of said site, pushing Anna’s contest with the Bobcats to Saturday afternoon. That day dawned in the frigid 40s, windy and clear, but another type of torrent would soon pour down on the ancient venue: Coyote hits and more hits — and Coyote runs and more runs. When the purple flood was done, Anna had posted 18 hits and drawn 11 walks for a 22-5 win, gaining sole possession of third place in District 11-4A with three games left.
And with this decisive take-down, the Coyotes (4-3) wrapped a tough three-game road stretch at 2-1, a trek that started with a 3-0 shutout of first-place Princeton on April 6.
“We’ve been really focused the last couple of practices on changing some [batting] approaches of some kids,” Anna head coach Joey Hector said of his team’s day at the plate. “I think they’ve been up there trying to be too perfect and not just letting their practice habits take over. Today was one of those days they broke out and they understood their role. We jumped on them early and, obviously, we played pretty good defense. And Zach [Howard] pitched a great game. We had several kids swinging the bat, which was great.”
Everyone in Anna’s lineup got at least one hit, with home runs belted by Gabe Surdukan and Jacob Odom, a triple by Rawley Hector and doubles from Dylan Burr (2), Mason Simmons, Howard and Hector.
More specifically, some of the batting leaders’ days looked like this:
-Odom: 2-for-3, 5 RBIs, 4 runs scored
-Hector: 3-for-3, 3 RBIs, 5 runs scored
-Howard: 2-for-3, 5 RBIs
-Burr: 3-for-5, 2 RBIs
-Colton Brown: 2-for-5, RBI
-Surdukan: 2-for3, RBI, 3 runs scored
-Simmons: 1-for2, RBI, 3 walks, 4 runs scored
Celina (1-6) sent three pitchers to the mound in an effort to staunch the attack.
“I think we all came out here and we competed,” Surdukan said. “We all did our jobs and we played how we’re supposed to. And I think in practice we were working hard to earn this one. … It puts us in a real good spot in our district.” Anna runs came in each inning - two in the first, four in the second, four in the third and six apiece in the fourth and fifth.
As for his third-inning solo dinger to left, Surdukan said, “I just tried to have a better approach from my first at-bat. I went out there and said, ‘I’m going to hit the ball.’ And I hit the ball.” True that, as motorists on Highway 289 who perhaps saw it land could attest. (Ditto for Odom’s three-run shot in the fifth.)
Howard spread seven hits over the five-inning, run rule-shortened contest, striking out nine and walking two. Only in frame two did Celina get something going, collecting a homer and four runs to trail, 6-4.
“In the second inning, he might’ve had a little blurp and didn’t command his pitches,” Hector said, “but then he got right back out there. Zach’s been a big pitcher all year for us. None of us are surprised by the outing he had today. It’s been what he’s had all year. And, really, to give up as few runs as he did on a day like today, with the wind blowing like that, that’s a testament to his pitches.”
A top defensive play for Anna occurred in bottom of third when a wind-blown fly ball to right dropped in front of Simmons’ reach. As the Bobcat runner tried for second, Simmons recovered, flagged down the ball and fired a strike to shortstop Hector who made the tag for out No. 2. Howard struck out the next batter to end the inning. “I just saw him running,” Simmons said, “and I threw it as hard as I could and hoped to get him out. And that was that.”
“Mason is probably our best defensive outfielder,” Hector said. “He works really hard at it. He understands that’s his role on the team. He should probably be a center fielder but Jaden Adams has really stepped up and taken the role there. But if you had to have a Defensive MVP, I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be Mason Simmons.”
With one out in the top of the fourth, the Coyotes posted three straight hits - singles from Jayden Rodgers and Surdukan, and Simmons’ double – to go up 11-4. As the strains of Robert Earl Keen’s Five-Pound Bass wafted through the stiff north breeze, Celina head coach Jake Davis - who may have preferred fishing at this point – strode to the mound for a pitching change. Another move came in the fifth with the Bobcats trailing 16-4.
The Coyotes’ 22nd run came on Derek Kirschner’s two-out single to left in the fifth.
So what does a win like this do for a team? “As weird as this is going to sound,” Coach Hector said, “I don’t think it does much of anything. It just counts as a win. We’ve got to go back to work on Monday and we’ve got another big game on Tuesday. In this district, everybody is about the same. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We know that.”
Simmons echoed the same tone when asked what the blow-out victory over Celina means. “Go out and work harder,” he said. “Win the next game.”