AP NEWS

Kingwood finds playoff intensity after 3rd straight District title

May 1, 2019

Kingwood had a goal this season of winning a district title.

The Mustangs were looking to win their third consecutive district title for the first time in school history.

Coach Kelly Mead knew that a tough preseason schedule would be a great test for the Mustangs to start the season to prepare for a district run. The team only lost one game in district play.

“It all starts with making your schedule,” Mead said. “You have to have a strong preseason in order for that district run. You have to enter the right tournament and the play the right people. We faced some adversity with the rain, but we played some good competition and were able to get two tournaments in.”

The preseason made District 22-6A play a breeze for Kingwood as the Mustangs went 15-1 in district play to win their third-straight district title. The Mustangs were dominant in district play outscoring their opponents 156-13.

“Felt really good,” said senior centerfielder Carter Armanotnos. “To bring it home three years in a row is a great feeling. We’re not satisfied yet. We know that we’re a good team, but we can improve on the little things as we get ready for the playoffs.”

Balanced play

Kingwood had a bye week in the last week of district play and focused on the fundamentals of baseball to prepare for the postseason.

Kingwood had the best pitching and offense in the district.

The Mustangs posted a .393 team batting average and were led by junior shortstop and Houston commit Tre Richardson, who had a .604 batting average (minimum 24 at-bats).

“There’s always room to improve,” said Richardson who finished with 24 stolen bases and 18 RBI in district play. “We know that we can improve. We’re not big on stats, but we know that we have talented pitching, great offense and defense. We have to make sure that when we go into the playoffs that we’re ready to go from the first game.”

The Mustangs pitching staff is led by junior Masyn Winn and Sam Friday. Kingwood had a team ERA of 0.83.

Wynn finished district play with a 0.18 ERA with a district leading 62 strikeouts. Friday finished district play with a 1.83 ERA.

“I felt great on the mound,” said Winn, who is committed to Arkansas. “I have a great defense behind me, great catcher and a solid offense to back me up. I just go out there and throw strikes. If they hit me they hit me. If they don’t they don’t. So far they haven’t hit me.”

Mead knows how special Winn is for the Mustangs.

“He’s been doing it since his freshman year.” Mead said. “I’m a little biased, but I don’t think he’s one of the best players in the district I think he’s one of the best players in the state.”

Playoff intensity

Kingwood suffered one lose in district — to Humble ISD foe Summer Creek.

Andre Duplantier had a phenomenal pitching performance against Kingwood that opened the Mustangs eyes.

“It showed us what the playoffs are going to be about,” Richardson said. “Those are the kind of pitchers you’re going to see in the playoffs, and we have to bring the same intensity every time we play. After that loss we came back and showed that we’re a great team and finished off district strong.”

Mead felt like the loss to Summer Creek was a wake-up call.

“I think that was an eye opener for us,” Mead said. “You have to tip your cap to those guys. Duplantier is a heck of a ball player, and those are the teams that you want to play. When you get into the playoffs those are the teams that you’re going to have to beat. We were cruising along and feeling pretty good about ourselves. We remained humble and responded from that loss.”

Luke Johnson feels that the Mustangs are ready to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“I think we’re playing some good baseball right now,” said Johnson, who leads the district with 27 RBI and finished with a .395 batting average. “We have had a good relationship on this team the last four years. The juniors have been starting the last three years, and we have some young sophomore that have helped us out. It’s time for the playoffs and we’re ready to go.”

marcus.gutierrez@chron.com