Five baseball Pirates garner academic all-state

Ask any coach and he’ll saysmart players are the best to have on a team.

Therefore, it makes sense that, wtih five academic all-state players on his baseball team, coach Brad Hart’s Granbury Pirates advanced to the area round of the 4A playoffs.

All seniors, Pirates honored by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association are outfielder/pitcher Miles Wagner, outfielder/pitcher Harrison Campbell, outfielder Tyler Titus, infielder/pitcher Daniel Stephens and infielder Brady Retz.

“Seeing as these guys are here as students first because that is the most important they accomplish, it is very important,” Hart said of the honors.

“I think it says something about these young men and how they can be committed to several things and accomplish those things at a high level. To me, that is a successful individual, and those skills and expectations will be with these kids for the rest of their lives, and no matter what they do they will be successful.”

Criteria for being selected includes grade-point average, class rank, ACT, SAT scores, and being in good moral standing.

The quintet helped the Pirates achieve a 17-14 record, their best mark since 2009. The advancement to area (second round) is also the first since 2009.

“It is very important at this level to have kids who are smart players,” said Hart. “Let’s face it, we want guys who can do what we teach them to do and who can think and correct things they are doing wrong.

“We want guys who can have a bad AB (at-bat) and be smart enough to say I know what I did wrong and I know how to fix it.”

Hart said all one has to do is look at the Pirates’ defense for proof of how smart his team was.

“When you look at how many successful pickoffs we had, a lot of those were called by our players and not a coach,” he said.

Of course, it also showed up in the offense, he said, as the team posted a .343 average, the best since he became coach in 2009.

“Look at how much these guys learned as far as how to be a successful hitter and how to approach certain counts,” said Hart. “By the time you are a varsity player, it is way more a mental game than a physical game.

“Fortunately, we had a lot of smart guys this season.”

On the field, Wagner was a first-team All-7-4A selection at pitcher, going 8-3 with a 2.02 ERA. Titus (.386 average) was a second-team outfield choice, and Retz was honorable mention at third base.

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