THSB Top 25 Stories of 2021

1. Bullard’s Hagen Smith Ties Texas High School Baseball Record with 7 No-Hitters

Hagen Smith, a Senior LHP from Bullard, threw 7 no-hitters in 2021, tying a Texas High School Baseball record set by Colt Molloy from Memphis, Texas in 2007. Smith threw 3 no-hitters in a row early in the season and went 34 innings before giving up his first run. 2 of Smith’s no-hitters came in the playoffs. He has committed to the University of Arkansas.

2. Texas High School Baseball Season Starts and Finishes after 2020 Pandemic Shutdown

Private Schools had their first official games on February 2 and UIL High Schools started their official games on February 23 as the Texas high school baseball season got underway with high hopes and great expectations after the 2020 early shutdown of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Texas schools were 3 weeks into the 2020 baseball season when the UIL suspended all spring sports and activities and then eventually cancelled all the spring sport seasons. Thousands of seniors missed their final season of high school baseball. Teams and players who got off to great starts were left wondering what could have been. But 2021 had high hopes with the start of the season. A number of teams dedicated their seasons to the Seniors of 2020. Fortunately, the number of CoVid 19 cases began a downward trend and while there were a few teams that missed some games because of a coronavirus outbreak, the Texas high school baseball season moved along basically unscathed culminating in a full TAPPS and UIL State Tournament with 13 State Champions crowned!

3. Jordan Lawlar Named Gatorade Texas Player of the Year

Dallas Jesuit Sr SS Jordan Lawlar was named the 2021 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year. Lawlar is the third Gatorade Texas Baseball Player of the Year to be chosen from Dallas Jesuit (Kyle Muller, 2017 and Josh Bell, 2011). The 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior shortstop posted a .412 batting average with six home runs, 46 runs scored, 37 RBI and a .556 on-base percentage this past season, leading the Rangers to a 32-6 record and a berth in the Class 6A area playoffs. The nation’s No. 1 draft prospect as ranked by Perfect Game, Lawlar also stole 32 bases without being caught and walked 27 times this season.

4. Malakoff Walk Off Gives Them Dramatic Win in 3A State Championship in Coach Adair’s Final Game

Malakoff scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th in a crazy ending to beat Corpus Christi London 8-7, wrapping up Coach John Adair’s high school coaching career in a big way. Adair had announced earlier in the season that this would be his last season to coach baseball. Keeping the game a family affair, Adair’s son Bryson, a senior SS on the Malakoff team, was named the Championship Game MVP. Coach Adair finished his career with 619 career wins. Down 7-4 going to the bottom of the 7th, Malakoff scored 2 runs in the 7th to make it a 7-6 ballgame. Then with the bases loaded and two outs, two hit batters brought in the tying and winning runs.

5. Rockwall-Heath Battles Through Season to Capture 6A State Championship

Rockwall-Heath beat Keller 4-3 to win the 6A State Championship. It was the second baseball state championship in Heath history (2012/4A). The Championship game with Keller was a close battle to the end, indicative of the Heath 2021 season. Heath tied Rockwall for the 10-6A District Championship and lost to them in the seeding game. 4 of their 5 playoffs series went to a 3rd Game. Heath played 50 games this season, the most in Texas High School Baseball, and finished the season with a 38-11-1 record.

6. Texarkana Pleasant Grove Captures Another 4A State Championship

The Pleasant Grove Hawks beat Rusk 2-1 to capture the 4A State Championship, their third State Championship in school history (2010, 2012). Pleasant Grove becomes only the 24th team in Texas high school baseball history to win 3 or more baseball state championships. It was also the 10th appearance in the State Tournament for Pleasant Grove and puts them in a tie for 8th for the most appearances at the Texas High School Baseball State Tournament. The Hawks finished 2nd in 15-4A to cross town rival Texarkana Liberty Eylau. Pleasant Grove met up with Liberty Eylau in the Regional Finals but beat them in 2 games. They beat Stephenville 13-0 in the State Semifinal game.

7. Barbers Hill Claims 5A State Championship, First Baseball Title in School History

Barbers Hill beat Hallsville 2-1 to win the 5A State Championship, the first State Baseball Championship in school history. Barbers Hill finished the regular season as the #2 seed out of 21-5A. They got on a roll in the playoffs beating #1 Friendswood in the Regional Finals in two games. Barbers Hill beat Amarillo 12-8 in the State Semifinal before beating Hallsville in the Championship Game.

8. New Deal Wins 2A State Championship

New Deal came into the 2A State Tournament ranked as the #1 team. They proved more than worthy of the ranking with a 14-1 win over Shiner in the Semifinal Game and a 7-2 win over Garrison in the Championship Game to capture the 2A State Championship. It was the first baseball state championship in school history for New Deal.

9. Lutheran South Wins 3rd Consecutive TAPPS Division II State Championship

Lutheran South had 18 hits and scored 16 runs to defeat Southwest Christian 16-0 in the TAPPS Division II State Championship game. It was a three-peat for Lutheran South as they won the title in 2018 and 2019 as well. They also won the State Championship in 2015. Lutheran South finished as the #2 seed out of Division II District 5 but rolled through the playoffs without giving up a run in 5 playoff games.

10. Midland Christian Captures TAPPS Division I Championship

Midland Christian beat Concordia Lutheran 1-0 in a tight contest in the TAPPS Division I State Championship Game to claim the 2021 D1 Baseball Title. For most of the season, Midland Christian had relied on a strong and aggressive offense for their success. They had scored 43 runs in their 3 playoff games to reach the Championship final. However, they held Concordia scoreless in the championship game and scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth with two walks and a delayed steal rundown that scored the runner from third.

11. Fayetteville Wins 1A State Championship

Fayetteville beat Kennard 6-4 to capture the 2021 1A State Championship, their 3rd Baseball State Championship in school history (1997 and 2012). Fayetteville became only the 23rd team in Texas high school baseball history to win 3 or more baseball state championships. Fayetteville is becoming one of the top programs in small school baseball. They have made it to the State Tournament 3 out of the last 4 seasons and have been to the State Tournament a total of 8 times, going back all the way to 1979. Only 17 teams in Texas high school baseball history have been to the state tournament 8 or more times.

12. JD Thompson Wins THSB Strikeout Title

Rusk’s junior LHP J.D. Thompson led all Texas high school baseball players with 194 strikeouts. Thompson picked up his strikeouts in 99.2 innings, averaging 1.95 strikeouts per inning. He had 20 strikeouts in a 7-inning game against Center on March 30. He had 18 strikeouts in a 6-inning game in his first outing of the season. He had two other games with 17 strikeouts. Thompson has committed to Vanderbilt University.

13. Friendswood Had 30-Game Win Streak, #1 National Ranking

The Friendswood Mustangs won their first 30 games of the year and was ranked the #1 team in the nation in May. With 8 starters returning including Izaac Pacheco, one of the top players in Texas, Friendswood was ranked #6 in the THSB 5A Preseason Poll. The Mustangs went 8-0 in two tournaments and then marched through district undefeated with five run-rule games and 6 shutouts. After 5-0 and 10-0 wins over Nederland in Bi-District, which included a one-hitter and a two-hitter, Max Preps and Collegiate Baseball named Friendswood the #1 team in the nation. Friendswood was 30-0 before they lost to College Station in Game 2 of their Regional Semifinal series. Friendswood went on to win that series but then lost in two games to Barbers Hill in the Regional Finals.

14. Bellaire Episcopal Wins Ninth SPC Title

Bellaire Episcopal beat Fort Worth Country Day 4-0 in the Southwest Preparatory Conference Championship Game. It was the third baseball title in the last 4 years for Episcopal and their ninth overall. Instead of a tournament this year, the SPC’s championship game consisted of the winner of the North Division (Country Day) and the winner of the South Division (Episcopal) in a single championship game.

15. Bay Area Christian Grabs TAPPS Division III State Championship

Bay Area Christian defeated Lubbock Trinity 3-1 to claim the TAPPS Division III State Championship. It was the first baseball state championship for Bay Area Christian. Bay Area Christian was strong from start to finish breezing through district with a 6-0 record and finishing the season at 28-4-2.

16. Weatherford Christian Repeats as TAPPS Division V Champions

Weatherford Christian pulled away early by scoring 9 runs in the first two innings and went on to a 14-2 run-rule win over Hallettsville Sacred Heart to give them their second consecutive TAPPS Division V Championship. Weatherford Christian were State Champions in 2019 with a very young team. Expectations have been high for the Lions. They more than responded to the expectations by breezing through district with a 12-0 record and by outscoring their playoff opponents 50-7.

17. Midland Classical Comeback Gives Them TAPPS Division IV Title

Midland Classical scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 6th with timely hitting and aggressive base running to grab a 5-4 comeback win over the Rosehill Christian Eagles to capture the 2021 TAPPS Division IV State Baseball Championship. Midland Classical wins an improbable championship after struggling to find 9 players to finish the season only 3 years earlier.

18. Tyson Neighbors Wins THSB HR Title

Senior Tyson Neighbors, a CF/RHP from Royse City, led all Texas high school baseball players with 11 Home Runs. He did not hit his first home run until the 7th game of the season. He caught fire with the long ball during the Richardson ISD Tournament hitting 3 home runs in 5 games. He continued to pick up home runs during district play and had 9 home runs with two district games left to play, one behind Kingwood Park’s Matt King. He then hit home runs 10 and 11 in a district game against Highland Park to lead all Texas players. Royse City lost in the first round of the playoffs but the home run lead held up throughout the playoffs. Neighbors has signed with Kansas State.

19. Rusk Rides Arm of Thompson to 4A State Championship Game

Junior J.D. Thompson made 4 consecutive starts for the Rusk Eagles in the playoffs, leading them all the way to the 4A State Championship Game. Rusk beat Waco La Vega and La Grange in the first two rounds of the playoffs and was facing #7 China Spring, winners in 19 of their last 20 games. Head Coach Ross McMurry opted to flip for a one-game playoff and rest his hopes on a strong performance by Thompson. He won the coin toss. Thompson held China Spring to one unearned run in 8 innings and Mason Cirkel held them off the last 5 innings and Rusk won 3-1 in 13 innings. McMurry won the coin toss again for a one-gamer the following week and with Thompson on the mound Rusk beat Orangefield 3-2. McMurry pulled off his magic one more time the following week with a coin toss win and Thompson and the Eagles beat Bellville 2-1 to advance to the state tournament. In the semifinals, Rusk met #1 ranked Sinton and with Thompson on the mound, Rusk defeated Sinton 6-3. In the state championship game, Cirkel pitched a great game but Rusk fell short to Texarkana Pleasant Grove 2-1. During his four consecutive playoff starts, Thompson gave up only 3 earned runs against some of the best 4A teams in the state.

20. Concordia’s Rick Lynch Passes Away

Rick Lynch, Head Baseball Coach at Concordia Lutheran for the past 9 years, passed away suddenly on December 22, 2020. Lynch had also coached at Tomball, Westfield and Santa Fe. He had 639 wins in his high school career and was ranked #12 in career wins among active coaches in Texas heading into the 2021 season. Lynch led the Concordia team to a TAPPS State Championship in 2015. The Concordia Lutheran team retired his #25 jersey this year and hung his jersey on the fence by the dugout for each game. Concordia made it to the TAPPS Division 1 State Championship Game before losing to Midland Christian.

21. Jordan Lawlar Expected to Go High in MLB Draft

Dallas Jesuit Sr SS Jordan Lawlar is one of the names being mentioned as a high draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft held July 11-13. In the various Mock Drafts, Lawlar is always considered as one of the Top 10 Picks. ProspectsLive predicts Lawlar being drafted with the 7th pick while projects Lawlar as the #5 pick. CBSSports had Lawlar selected with the #2 pick in the draft. Baseball America and Bleacher Report both project Lawlar as the #1 pick in the draft. Lawlar was a 3-year starter at Dallas Jesuit, hitting over .400 each year. In 2021, he hit .412 with 46 Runs, 37 RBIs, 6 Home Runs and 32 Stolen Bases.

22. Flower Mound Marcus Beats Florida Powerhouse IMG Academy Baseball Team

The National High School Baseball Classic was held at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field on February 25-27 in the first week of UIL play. The tournament included 7 ranked 6A teams from Texas and Florida’s IMG Academy, the preseason #1 team in the nation. IMG Academy is a school that many parents send their athletic children to attend where they can get a high school education but also have a focus on their specialized sport. Their stacked baseball team will likely have 6 players drafted in the upcoming MLB Draft. In their first two games of the tournament, IMG had two big wins over Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound. Next up was Flower Mound Marcus. Unintimidated, Marcus’ Jake Duer hit an RBI single to break a 5-5 tie and Marcus went on to defeat the powerhouse team from Florida 6-5. Tyler Schott was 3-for-4 in the game and Duer was 2-for-3.

23. Odessa Permian Baseball Player Intentionally Walked in 10 Consecutive At-Bats

Permian’s Sr OF Teo Banks opened up their 3-game series against crosstown rival Odessa High with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs in the first game of the 2-6A contest as Permian went on to win 7-1. With two more games to go in the week, Odessa High decided that Banks’ bat would not beat them in the remaining two games. Banks, Permian’s leadoff hitter, was intentionally walked to start the bottom of the first. He came up to bat 5 times in the game and was intentionally walked all 5 times. Permian still won 10-3. In the third district game, Banks was intentionally walked to start the game. And again, he received intentional free passes for each of his 5 at-bats in the game. The Permian hitters behind Banks responded with 10 hits in the game and Banks scored 3 runs as Permian went on to sweep the series with a 16-6 victory. Odessa High wasn’t the only team to intentionally walk Banks. On the year, Banks was intentionally walked 19 times. He had a total of 37 walks during the season.

24. Odessa Permian Wins First District Title Since 1966

Odessa Permian clinched its first outright baseball district title since 1966 with a 5-3 win over Frenship on the last day of the regular season. They finished 2-6A district play at 15-3, one game ahead of Midland Lee. Permian shared the district crown with Abilene Copoer in 1989 but it has been 55 years since they could claim the outright baseball district championship. Permian advanced to the Regional Quarterfinals this year and finished the season at 30-10.

25. Benjamin Davis Wins First Baseball District Championship in School History

The Benjamin Davis Falcons captured the first baseball District Championship in school history. Davis finished the district season 13-1, one game ahead of Spring High. The school opened in 2012. It was the fourth time Davis had qualified for the playoffs. They were the #2 seed in 2016 when they made their first ever appearance in the baseball playoffs. They were the #4 seed in 2017 and the #3 seed in 2018.

26. Barbers Hill Wins Both Baseball and Softball Championships in 2021

Barbers Hill became the 7th School in UIL History to win both a UIL State Baseball and Softball Championship. Barbers Hill and Aledo (2014) are the largest schools to accomplish this feat.

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