The Tolar Rattlers returned to a winning baseball season in 2013.
Now, with a new head coach, they are ready for a return to the playoffs, somewhere they haven’t been since moving up to Class 2A in the 2011 season.
Darrell Hogan takes over for the departed Trey Holcomb, who left to be an assistant coach in the Fort Worth school district. Holcomb’s final team in his three-year stint finished 13-11, but was 4-6 in District 10-2A.
Still, that was an improvement from the 1-13 mark in district the season before. And Hogan, in his first season as a head coach, believes the pieces are in place to continue improving on to the postseason.
“I feel like this year we are going to be competitive and make a run for the playoffs,” said Hogan. “We show a lot of promise.”
Hogan was an assistant coach at Hillsboro, Moody and Clifton before taking the Tolar job.
The Rattlers return three starters from last season, and the trio will help comprise what should be a very solid infield. Junior Dakota Endsley is at shortstop, junior Dusty Kimmell is at second, and sophomore Lance Smith will be at third base.
Three lettermen are also back, including the lone senior, Alec Elder. Hogan said he is looking for leadership from Elder.
Kimmell has also had some bright moments on the pitching mound. He was a second-team All-10-2A selection as a pitcher in 2013.
Endsley was also a second-team all-district pick.
“We have several kids that can pitch. They just need some fine tuning,” said Hogan. “Tyler McMillan (junior) pitched really well in our first scrimmage and had great control of all his pitches.
“Tyler Anderson (sophomore) will see time on the mound as well. Southpaw Stevie Morphew (sophomore) will be seeing innings as well, along with Dillon Morris (sophomore).”
McMillan was an honorable mention all-district pick in the outfield last season.
“The kids seem pretty solid fielding. Hitting-wise we have some kids that can drive the ball very well. Overall, we are going to put the ball in play and make the other team make plays.”
The Tolar junior varsity was competitive in 2013, and Hogan has a large freshman class that has played together quite a bit.
“I expect some of these freshmen to make an impact at the varsity level this year,” he said.
The Rattlers are once again in a tough district. Grandview reached the regional semifinals last season. Whitney, Maypearl and Godley are also tough.
The season gets under way Tuesday at Boyd. The first home game is Friday against Bosqueville. The first district game is March 21 at home against Rio Vista.
The Rattlers are also playing in one tournament at Ranger.
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