Unlike many of his classmates, Hendrickson baseball player Chase Piper didn’t get the chance last weekend to see the girls soccer team win the school’s first state championship in a UIL-sanctioned team sport.
Not that Piper needed to see coach Rennie Rebe and her players celebrating their Class 6A title to understand the reasons behind their historical triumph. Piper has spent enough time at the Hendrickson field house to realize how much effort the Hawks had put into winning a state championship, starting with summer workouts and ending with the final whistle in the Class 6A final. He knew, too, that such dedication has been the norm this school year during a superb run for the Hawks’ various teams.
“We train hard, all of us,” Piper said Tuesday night, moments after pitching 6⅔ innings during a 4-2 victory over Round Rock. “All the teams, both boys and girls. Preseason and postseason, we just work hard. We never take a day off.”
With a second consecutive victory over 13-6A rival Round Rock on Friday, Hendrickson would claim its first district title in baseball while competing at the UIL’s highest classification. The Hawks’ only two district championships came in Class 4A in 2010 and 2012.
“We’re having a good run,” said Hendrickson baseball coach Doug Pearce, who’s in his third season. “When one team is successful, it shows that you can do it, too.”
Hendrickson will finish the 2016-17 school year having qualified for the postseason in every UIL-sanctioned team sport, a feat currently matched by only one other Class 6A school in the Austin area — Bowie.
The Hawks compete in the ruggedly competitive District 13-6A, though, along with Cedar Ridge, which also will qualify each of its teams for the UIL postseason if the Raiders baseball squad rises from fifth to fourth in the 13-6A standings.
Pearce stresses that the Hawks’ senior-laden team has goals that go beyond winning a district title. Hendrickson (19-4, 8-1) boasts a deep pitching staff and a steady defense. Its balanced lineup, which can wreak havoc on the basepaths, has produced a district-best 150 runs.
“When one team is successful (like girls soccer), it just shows that you can do it, too,” Pearce said. “Everybody is always talking about how tough this district is — and it certainly is — but that doesn’t mean you have to bow down to the teams that always win it.
“Seeing the girls win (in soccer), it just gave us more confidence.”
That confidence comes partly from the potent pitching combination of Piper and Colin Wyman. Piper, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior left-hander, leads the Hawks with eight wins and boasted a solid 1.31 earned-run average entering this week.
The 6-3, 195-pound Wyman brings a bit more heat, with a team-leading 41 strikeouts in 44⅓ innings and a team-best 0.38 ERA.
Pearce also has the option of pitching team captain Chris Alvarez, especially if the Hawks find themselves in a three-game playoff series.
Alvarez showed his mettle in the victory over Round Rock on Tuesday, entering the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with the tying run on second base and a raucous Dragons home crowd rooting for a rally and a win. Alvarez promptly forced a harmless flyout by Round Rock’s last batter to clinch the victory.
“That guy (Alvarez) would be a starter for any other team,” Pearce said after the win.
This season, though, there are few teams in the area like the one at Hendrickson.