Photo by Mario Puente | @LifeOfMarioP
At the start of their freshman season four years ago, Milby senior Jonathan Gonzales and some of his teammates taped a note to the wall of their homeroom classroom.
“We made it a goal of ours and wrote down that we were going to go past the third round (of the playoffs) in our junior or senior seasons,” Gonzales said. “We knew it had never been done before. We wanted to be the team to do it and make a state run.”
Gonzales’s teacher never took that note off the wall.
“So, for us to look back and know that our old selves would look up to the players we are today is a testament to the amount of work, faith and dedication we have to the team and the game,” Gonzales said. “The season has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. We’ve faced many ups and even more downs, but always trusted each other and got through it.”
Right now, the Buffaloes are on the highest of ups, 30-8 and in the regional semifinals for the first time. It’s been a season made for the movies.
Fourteen seniors are seeing their longtime goals come to fruition, and head baseball coach Carlos Morales and his three assistants Jesse Longoria, Ray Ramirez and Jorge Castillo—all Milby alumni—have captained the storybook campaign.
“It’s been great. It’s been exciting,” said Morales, Class of 1988, in his 26th year coaching at Milby and 20th as head coach. “I think all of us have been here and seen our season come to an end in the first or second round of the playoffs, year in and year out. For us to break that cycle and get past that has been awesome.”
Milby is 6-2 in the playoffs, with series wins over Angleton, Santa Fe and La Porte. The Buffs won District 23-5A with a 12-0 record.
Milby is in the regional semifinals for the first time in program history.Photo by Mario Puente | @LifeOfMarioP
FINDING A WAY
Milby enters this weekend’s best-of-three regional semifinals against Lake Creek having won 17 of its last 20 games. Not bad for a school with a baseball field that has no centerfield fence and was little more than grass and two slabs of concrete as recently as four years ago.
“To make it this far for anyone is huge,” Morales said. “But for an inner-city school that has a few more obstacles, it’s extra special. We don’t have all the nice facilities and stuff like other schools. There’s economic obstacles. But what we have, we have pride in, and we make the most out of it. Our guys find a way to do it on the field, just like they’ll find a way to deal with things later in life.”
It’s personal for the players.
“I don’t think Milby has been taken seriously and has been portrayed as something it’s not,” Gonzales said. “We’re more than the categories some may put us in. I’m proud to be a part of the generation that puts Milby and the community on the map. Coach Mo always tells us that players who may have it harder will always want it more because it means more. I definitely see those words guiding us and proving to be true.”
Gonzales and those 13 other seniors are the backbone of the program. Most of them are four-year varsity lettermen.
They have fostered a culture of hard work, leadership and love for one another and the game.
“We’re all pulling the same rope,” Gonzales said. “We all know our roles and parts on the team. All the hard work we’ve put in, not only this year but the past four years, is paying off and coming together. The fans … I don’t like to call them fans because they’re more than that. Our moms and dads, family, old coaches, friends, teachers and teammates … they’ve helped lead up to all of this.”
Morales knew this team had the chance to be good when it earned a few tough wins early in season against Tomball, Episcopal and Lutheran South.
“(Those are) Teams that are, year in and year out, in the playoffs and making deep runs, and we were able to find a way to win,” Morales said. “Some of those games were come-from-behind wins where our guys just kept battling. Our guys just don’t quit. Those are the times when you realize we could be pretty good.”
Milby baseball coach Carlos Morales, far right, looks on with his team during a recent game this season.Photo by Mario Puente | @LifeOfMarioP
FUN AND FOCUS
The Buffaloes are getting production from everyone.
Senior Fabian Ramirez is the ace with a 7-2 record and 68 strikeouts. Gonzales is a monster two-way talent at second base. Senior Jhaeden Bowers pitches and plays centerfield. Senior Jonathan Siguenza has stepped up big in relief this postseason. Senior Adam Rodriguez is a stalwart at catcher. Senior Christian Torres always manages to come up with consistent, workmanlike at-bats. Junior Arthur Perez is a sparkplug as the 3-hole hitter.
And then there are the youngsters.
Sophomore Jacob Lopez has impressed as Rodriguez’s backup. Sophomore shortstop Fredy Romero is a stud in the making, often leaving Morales in awe by making difficult plays look easy. Sophomore Leo Berrones is invaluable as a utilityman, playing and excelling wherever needed on the left side of the field.
“It’s a lot of guys contributing right now,” Morales said.
Morales is an old-school coach. No-nonsense. Big on discipline and fundamentals. A throwback.
For instance, Morales doesn’t show players their batting averages. They know better than to ask to see them. Instead, he shows them their “quality at-bats,” which the coaches keep track of, and how effective they are moving people into scoring position.
“I appreciate that these guys have bought in that if they are to be successful, it will be because of all of them, together,” Morales said.
But as rigid as Morales is on the field, he’s just as empathetic and loyal off it.
Morales and his staff often relay stories from their days to the players. They are not just coaching the game. They are coaching life.
Everything—baseball, life, Milby High School—simply means more to the players because of Morales and Co.
“It helps in the sense that when we talk to them, they can relate,” Morales said. “Even me being older, growing up in the 80s, we’re from the same area, same neighborhoods, and they know when we speak, it comes from the heart and a true place. We can relate to their upbringings and struggles.”
These days, they are relating to their triumphs. Relishing their victories.
“It’s one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time,” Gonzales said. “Understanding that we’ve worked hard and that it will all translate to the games. Remembering to have fun and pick each other up when things get rough, and staying focused and not letting up when things are good. We’re ready to give everything we got.”
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The Greater Houston area is loaded with elite talent in every sport. Welcome to the VYPE Playmakers, powered by UTMB Health, where we highlight five student-athletes making a difference on the field or track.
Pearland senior Logan Scott.Courtesy of Logan Scott social media
>> Logan Scott, Pearland, baseball
Scott drove in two runs for the Oilers in their 6-2 Class 6A regional quarterfinal win over Clear Creek last weekend to advance Pearland to the regional semis. The senior infielder has been steady for the Oilers all season, hitting .264 with 23 RBIs. He is dynamic with the glove, with only five errors in 68 chances in the field. Scott has turned seven double plays this season and boasts a .926 fielding percentage.
Friendswood junior Collin Goolsby.Courtesy of Collin Goolsby social media
>> Collin Goolsby, Friendswood, baseball
Goolsby came up clutch in helping the Mustangs sweep Crosby in their Class 5A regional quarterfinals last weekend. In the decisive 4-1 Game 2 win, Goolsby went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs to pace Friendswood. The night before, Goolsby was even more electric at the plate in a 12-0 Game 1 win, going 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. The junior is a Houston Baptist University commit.
Friendswood sophomore Baileigh Burtis.Courtesy of Baileigh Burtis social media
>> Baileigh Burtis, Friendswood, softball
Burtis had an outstanding sophomore campaign, helping lead the Mustangs all the way to the regional semifinals before falling to No. 1 state-ranked Lake Creek last week. Burtis hit .413 with 32 RBIs and three home runs. She led the team in hits with 52 and had a .456 on-base percentage. Burtis and Friendswood will be a premier threat once again in Region III-5A next season. The Mustangs only graduate two seniors.
Clear Springs junior Anna SolesVYPE Media
>> Anna Soles, Clear Springs, softball
Soles was central to an impressive 2022 season for Clear Springs, which went 28-6, won the District 24-6A title and made it to the regional quarterfinals. Soles hit .417 with 29 RBIs and led the team in hits with 40. The junior had a .500 on-base percentage and as many walks as strikeouts (13). The Kansas commit was perhaps even more spectacular in the circle, going 7-2 with a 1.55 ERA and allowing 11 earned runs in 49 2/3 innings,
La Porte senior Naomi Green.Courtesy of Naomi Green social media
>> Naomi Green, La Porte, cross country/track and field
Green was a dominant force on the track and course in 2022, resulting in a scholarship to run for Sam Houston State University. In cross country last fall, Green finished second at the district championships and seventh at the regional championships to qualify for state. Her personal record in the 5000 meter run is 19:15.00. This spring, on the track, Green finished fifth in the 3200 meters run at the regional meet and 10th in the 1600 meter run at the regional meet. She has PR marks of 5:27.59 and 12:07.35 in the 1600 and 3200, respectively.
Our specialists recognize the importance of being able to maintain an active lifestyle and whether you’re looking to address a joint injury, receive prompt treatment for a concussion, or simply improve your overall athletic performance, UTMB Health Orthopedics Sports Medicine is here to help.
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25 May, 2022
Hockaday athletes have been building quite the legacy for the athletics department over the course of a few years. Most recently, the Daisies Lacrosse team won the 2022 SPC Lacrosse State Championship in an exciting matchup to mark their third state title (2018, 2021, 2022) under the same head coach- Molly Ford Hutchinson. VYPE DFW was given the opportunity to interview Coach Hutchinson and some of the athletes following their title victory!
To read the interview, become a VYPE Insider today!
History of Excellence
The Hockaday Daisies Lacrosse team has made state appearances all six years that Coach Hutchinson has been at the reigns. While some might think keeping a team focused on a common goal throughout the off-season, coach Hutchinson believes that one of the main reasons the athletes remain in focus even through the off-season is that the majority of them are multiple-sport athletes. "Many of our athletes are multi-sport athletes which gives them the opportunity to play other sports, develop a field sense, hand-eye coordination, and a deeper IQ of team sports," Hutchinson said. "We start mid-February so the season is quick for us and the girls are focused the entire season. The coaching staff and team have an expectation to be playing in the SPC and State Finals every year."
With high expectations, the mantra of "We Are One," and the drive to be great, the team has been able to post several successful seasons. Many people might wonder what has been the secret for Hockaday Women's Lacrosse. "We meshed really well on and off the field," said Hutchinson. "You can feel the camaraderie and energy every day at practice. We also had depth on our bench. We run two midfield lines which keeps us fresh throughout the game. We also had freshman that were big contributors to the team."
Hutchinson acknowledged that the freshman class made big plays throughout the season, but also added that the senior class was extremely special. "[The seniors] were selfless and wanted what was best for the team," Hutchinson started. "We had one of the top players in Texas on our team- Minje Kwun. She has dominated for the last three seasons and has made a significant impact on the program. Landry Grover was a workhorse in the midfield for us and our defensive backbone. She will be heading to Denver next season. Anna Gum, will also be heading to play in college at Hamilton. She is our ground ball queen and was always a consistent player for us."
VYPE was given the opportunity to talk to two of those seniors (Grover and Kwun) before she focuses on the next chapter in her career. "Wearing the Hockaday jersey is one of the best parts of stepping on the field," Grover told VYPE. "It means playing for a school that really cares about female success in sports and a coach that pushes us to exceed the Texas Lacrosse standard. That is was Hockaday Lacrosse is all about. I'm very proud to call myself a Daisy."
Kwun went on to add her feelings about playing for Hockaday: "Our coaches- Coach Molly, Coach Morgan, and Coach Posie are the most thoughtful and intelligent people, so I feel very lucky to have learned from them. Also, our athletic director- Coach Surgi- and Hockaday athletics truly cares for each student-athlete, so it was amazing to represent the program."
Making Memories through Big Accomplishments
Any coach or athlete will tell you that with each season comes new goals, new accomplishments, and new memories. For coach Hutchinson, some of her favorite memories come from state title victories. However, if you were to ask her what some of her favorite memories have been outside of winning championships, it comes down to using time to bond with the team even on trips while contributing to their winning record. "Our California spring break trip [was a favorite memory from this season]," Hutchinson told VYPE. "We played Torrey Pines, La Jolla, and Coronado. This was great momentum for us heading into the second half of the season."
The little moments have truly paid off in big moments and the way the team has battled through each moment has shown a lot of growth for the Hockaday Daisies. With growth comes the ability to accomplish huge things on and off the field. "The seniors had never won a SPC Championship and that was huge for them," Hutchinson said in regards to what she felt was one of the biggest accomplishments on the season. Aside from winning state, though, Hutchinson believes another big accomplishment came on the California spring break trip where the team was able to go 3-0 out of state at the beginning of the season.
"I knew this team was going to be very special," Hutchinson told VYPE. "After winning in 2021 with a very good team, adding eight impactful freshman to the mix, plus the growth of our veterans was going to make this team even deeper."
The Weight of State
Each athlete has a goal in mind when they step onto the field before each game. For the Daisies, winning SPC state has meant a great deal for the athletes on the team. Kwun talked a little bit about what winning meant to her. "Winning state this year has been one of my favorite memories of my life so far. Playing with my teammates for one last time and making our coaches and Hockaday proud was the best feeling ever."
"Winning state definitely gives you the title of being the best in Texas, but for me it really just celebrates the amound of work we put in during the season and allows us to put Hockaday lacrosse on the map," Grover added.
Freshman Mae Flanagan also spoke about what winning state has meant for her. "It's super special, especially with this team, because we are definitely like a family. After all the hard work we put in all season, it was the perfect close. I think it also set a precedent for our next three seasons and will be our motivation to do the same next year."
Sophomore Riley Damonte added her emotions about winning state: "To me, winning state reflects the team's hard work that was put into this season. All the practices that ran long and infinite hundreds led us to this moment. It feels like a well-deserved title for all the work we put in."
In The Zone
To win state, athletes have to be focused as well as have a common goal. Kwun, Grover, Flanagan, and NAME outlined what the tone of the entire state game was like for VYPE:
"Our coaches set the tone before the tournament began," Kwun told VYPE. "They told us to play smart, support each other, and to never change our game plan based on our opponent. I believe we maintained this tone through the weekend during the semifinal and championship games."
Staying focused was a key part in winning state, according to Grover. "We really just focused on playing Hockaday lacrosse. We knew we had all of the tools to succeed, but we had to go out in the tournament with the mentality to get points up on the board and to not let our opponent get close to us. We like to use the phrase 'PTM' which means 'pedal to the metal' as well as 'protect the meadow' and that's what we did throughout our season."
"In our game against Flower Mound, we let them come back a bit at the end. During the championship game, I think we raised our intensity towards the end to prevent the same thing from happening. Our mindset coming in was to play Hockaday lacrosse and if we played our game, we would come out with the win. I think we ended up playing one of the most cohesive games of the season. Everyone on the field felt confident and supported by their teammates. The only thing we adjusted were our draws- we used different draw takers and sent the ball to various spots to gain possession throughout the game," Flanagan told VYPE about the tone throughout the state tournament.
Damonte also spoke about the tone on the field. "Going into the game, the whole team was very excited and ready. That energy translated right onto the field. During the game, we all remained very positive and continued to support each other as that was something we had been working on for the entire season. Some of my favorite memories this season were right after goals were scored and I think that speaks to our positive tone on the field. I think it's important to remind your teammates to stay positive because if they do, it has a direct impact on their game."
The direct impact Damonte speaks of is evident in such a strong team who not only is strong enough to win championships, but also to forge bonds with each other that are not easily shaken nor broken.
Learning from the Athletes
As much as athletes learn from their coaches, any good coach will tell you that their athletes have a fair share of lessons that they- in turn- teach the coaches. For Hutchinson, that lesson has been about hard work. "Hard work pays off; working on your craft is key to being successful and the best player on the field. They have taught me that this concept is not dead."
After the seniors had their chance to outline what playing for Hockaday has meant for them, Flanagan and Damonte were given the chance to tell VYPE what donning the Hockaday jersey means to them as athletes who will be reutning to the field:
"Playing for Hockaday is about so much more than just lacrosse," Damonte told VYPE. "It has allowed me to make amazing friends who I love spending time with and who I really treasure. Hockaday Lacrosse is more than just a team, we are a family and there is not one person on the team who I dislike. Additionally, playing for Hockaday allows me to play with the best players in Texas which is so amazing because every day I push myself to compete with my teammates."
"I think the whole team agrees that we would all not be where we are without the Hockaday coaching staff and Lacrosse program," Flanagan started. "They are the best coaches anyone could ask for. My family has a long history at Hockaday, so representing them while playing lacrosse has been the highlight of my year."
Focusing on What's To Come
The off-season is a time to sharpen skills. Since the team is comprised of many athletes who continue to play outside of the school's team, Hutchinson is confident that they will keep their skills topnotch for next season. "Many of our players play club lacrosse so they continue to keep their sticks in their hand. They are also dedicated to off season training in the weight room which makes a huge difference. We also have athletes that are playing other sports outside of lacrosse which helps us build an all around athlete.
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