Friendswood star Maxcey puts Mustangs in play
Dylan Maxcey can find flaws in perfection.
Oftentimes after a game—even those in which the Friendswood senior catcher goes 4-for-4 or 3-for-4 at the plate, which are not rare outings—Maxcey can be found in the hitting cages, fine-tuning or adjusting something.
That’s after he’s talked with coaches about his performance and what can be better.
“He’s amazing,” coach Cory Benavides said. “His work ethic is super high, and for what he wants to do, it has to be. He’s blessed with a lot of talent, but it takes a lot more. His performances in the big moments speak for themselves because of how he prepares.”
Maxcey is not the lone reason Friendswood (29-7-1) is back at the state tournament for the first time since 2008, preparing to face Mansfield Legacy (32-9) in the Class 5A semifinal Thursday, but he’s an important one.
The Texas Tech signee has been unreal this postseason, hitting .588 with 15 RBIs and two homers. He went 4-for-4 in a game. Twice, he has registered three hits in a game. Six times in 10 games, he has had at least two hits.
In 34 at-bats, Maxcey has not struck out.
“I know strikeouts will happen,” Maxcey said. “But I see it as I didn’t battle as hard as I could. That’s what keeps me finding ways to get on base. Coach has told me all through these four years, ‘Just give your team a chance. Put the ball in play and fight.’ That’s what I’ve done.”
Maxcey is a baseball junkie, particularly when it comes to hitting. There is always work to be done. He is in the cages 3-4 times per day. Not week. Day.
\u201cStrong start to 2022 for @TTU_Baseball signee C Dylan Maxcey (@Dmaxcey1) @fhsballplayers with 3 hits on the day including a double. \n\n@ShooterHunt @NathanRode\u201d— PBR Texas (@PBR Texas) 1645908608
To be good is not enough. Maxcey must be great. It’s the mark of an obsessive competitor who has goals of playing in the Majors.
“My whole life has been to be an all-around hitter,” Maxcey said. “A lot of contact. A lot of sneaky power. I hate striking out. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Everything I work on in the cage is setting myself up not to strike out.
“But what keeps me at those low (strikeout) numbers, no matter how many at-bats, is I’m always ready to hit. Whether it’s a first pitch curveball that’s hanging, or anything in the zone I can get a good barrel to … most of the time I put it into play.”
Maxcey remembers his first strikeout. It came during a 12U tournament when he struck out nine times.
“I was going good all season, the three-hole hitter who did well in big spots, hadn’t struck out all season and this tournament hits … it wasn’t even special pitching,” Maxcey recalled. “I don’t know what it was. Strikeout after strikeout. Nine strikeouts and one flyout. I was hitless. I was like, if this happens again, we’re going to have some issues.”
He’s never had issues with his swing. Maxcey is a natural with a bat in his hand. His mentality, however, is what was holding him back all the way through his freshman year.
“I was so smart about hitting at a younger age that it almost hurt me sometimes,” Maxcey said; humility, not arrogance, dripping from his words. “I knew what I needed to feel, think and do, but sometimes I knew too much. I was trying to do too much perfect, and anybody who plays baseball knows, you can’t do that. You’ve got to simplify things.”
Maxcey was essentially a defensive specialist as a freshman catcher on varsity. He simply was immature for that level of pitching as a 14-year-old.
It was the dawn of Maxcey’s sophomore year when Benavides drilled into him the significance of knowing what type of hitter he is. Benavides said Maxcey always had impeccable hand-eye coordination and confidence. But once he figured out who he was at the plate, and what he was and wasn’t capable of, the hits came in bunches.
“That stuck with me,” Maxcey said. “Now I’m a gap guy. A doubles and triples guy. Singles. Homers will come and go. But I really learned the kind of hitter I am over the years. It was a confidence boost and a comfortability thing. I was able to be me.”
\u201c\ud83d\udca3#4 and Advance to round 2\n#UsVsTheWorld\u201d— Dylan Maxcey (@Dylan Maxcey) 1651969582
The Mustangs made a bold move early in district play, one predicated upon Maxcey’s prominent rise as a prolific hitter.
With the offense slumping, Benavides moved Maxcey from the 3-hole in the lineup to the leadoff spot. Maxcey hit leadoff in the fall for a couple of games. He was uncomfortable, didn’t like it and moved back to his normal spot.
But with Friendswood struggling to manufacture runs months later, Benavides and Maxcey revisited the notion. Maxcey accepted it because he saw it was what was best for the team.
He changed his approach. Get on base. Establish early pressure. No pitch is too daunting, whether it’s a nasty breaking ball or a sizzling fastball.
Maxcey loves setting things in motion for his team. His success initiates a domino effect throughout the rest of the lineup. He hates disappointing his team more than he even loves to win.
“He’s one of our biggest bats. He’s also the fastest kid in our program,” Benavides said. “He has to be the kid that has the most at-bats, and where can we do that? Put him leadoff. The other night (in an 8-3 Game 2 regional final win over Lake Creek), he’s the leadoff guy coming up with two outs and two runners on and gets a big home run. I’m blessed we have a relationship of trust to make what was a pretty big move for us.”
Maxcey took last season’s regional final loss to eventual state champion Barbers Hill personally. He said it was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to deal with.
“(It was) knowing we did not play anywhere near our potential or anywhere near what we’d been playing all season,” Maxcey said. “We thought we were just going to run through Barbers Hill. We just kind of laid down. I felt if we would’ve played to our potential, we could have very well won a state title.”
This year, Maxcey said the Mustangs boast a relentless fight that was absent last year. They take no one for granted. They now know what to expect.
And so far, they are taking advantage of it.
“The difference between last year and this year is this year we use the nerves to our advantage,” Maxcey said. “We use them to play our butts off. We play very loose and free. We do our job and do it as hard as we can. We trust the process, trust the work we’ve put in, and I think it shows in what we’ve done.”