Playing diamond on their minds

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

The Wharton Rotary Club invited coaches and athletes to speak during January luncheons. Wharton High School from left, softball coach Kelli Treybig, Bethany Gomez, Emily Simper, Cyra Rodriguez, Jacob Palacios, Kurtys Mayberry, Donovan Krushall, and baseball coach Wade Mathis.

In back-to-back weeks, coaches and athletes from various Wharton High School and Wharton County Junior College sports programs have spoken during Wharton Rotary Club luncheons at the Wharton Civic Center.

A lot of back and forth came of it as Rotarians asked athletes and coaches questions and were interested to know several things, among them how the athletes feel about representing their school in this community and in some cases, playing in new facilities.

Among the sports programs represented during a Wednesday, Jan. 15 luncheon were Wharton High School’s baseball and softball varsity teams. For WCJC, it was all three athletic programs that were represented, including baseball, rodeo and volleyball. 

WHS athletes present were baseball’s Donovan Krushall (catcher), Kurtys Mayberry (infielder) and Jacob Palacios (third baseman); and softball’s Cyra Rodriguez, Bethany Gomez, and Emily Simper. 

WCJC athletes present were volleyball’s Kamie Klesel, of Weimar; rodeo’s Garrison Koehn, also of Weimar; and baseballs’ Zachary Lee, of El Campo. All of them are sophomores and each spoke about how they have plans to enroll at a university, although each said they don’t know if an athletic career will follow them.

Each WCJC athlete had much more to say as they were asked multiple questions. Koehn received inquiries about the amateur and pro circuit. He said one rodeo is planned in Wharton this spring. Lee, being from Wharton County, answered questions about being near his hometown and the fact the Pioneers have started practicing in the new facility that is across the street from WHS. Rotarians were told the volleyball team was a close-knit group, the likes that some in the WCJC had not seen before. This was mentioned because of the struggles the season brought, but it didn’t deter the players from being divided, but rather bonded them even more.

Home sweet home

It may not look like much right now with all the construction and dirt, but WHS players will be competing in a new sports complex specifically made for Tigers baseball and Lady Tigers softball teams, and right on Boling Highway. Wharton ISD Superintendent Tina Herrington assured Rotarians that the sports complex would be used for the 2020 season. However, the WHS baseball team will not have home games at the beginning. The schedule that was released by WISD’s Athletics Department in December is indicative of that.

WHS’s junior varsity and varsity teams play their first baseball games in Van Vleck on Monday, Feb. 10. The Tigers’ first home game will be played against Bellville on Tuesday, March 10. Wade Mathis will begin his first year as baseball coach. For the Lady Tigers’ softball team, they were scheduled to begin practices on Friday, Jan. 24, weather permitting. According to their schedule, they host Schulenberg on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and Rosenberg Terry on Friday, Feb. 14. If there are conflicts due to construction, WISD will announce scheduling changes like it does for every sports event. Like Mathis, coach Kelli Treybig is beginning her first year leading this softball program after seeing success in Anahuac.

Both coaches graduated from Wharton High School, and both told Rotarians how humbled they are to be given the opportunity to coach where they once played and went to school.

WISD announced that a dedication and ribbon cutting of Lady Tiger Softball Field and the renovated Tiger Baseball Field would be Tuesday, March 17 at 4:45 p.m.

Baseball (5 p.m.) and softball (6 p.m.) games against Brookshire Royal will follow.

Ironically, the WISD sports complex site is across the street from WCJC, where the baseball Pioneers will be playing at Corbett Park, which is on Horton Foote Drive. Keith Case won’t have the chance to don a Pioneers baseball uniform like he had since 2014 after being named WCJC’s athletics director in September. Case was named AD last August after Gene Bahnsen stepped down following a 60-year career here.

Lot of new things for Case. This will be the first time in 36 years he has not been a baseball coach.

“I am excited about the future here. Before I had only one team. Now I have three teams,” Case said.

Case let Rotarians know about the Feb. 2 Corbett Park dedication at 1:30 p.m., which is a half hour before WCJC’s game against the Coastal Bend College Cougars.

“The game should be done in time to watch the beginning of the Super Bowl,” Case said.

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