BY TJ GARCIA
MISSION – Mission Veterans is still a fairly new school compared to its older, more established neighbors Mission High and Sharyland.
But when it comes to baseball, the Patriots are beginning to make history of their own.
Veterans has won four straight district championships and made the state playoffs’ sweet sixteen (fourth round) in 2015. About half a dozen or more of those players on that playoff team are still around, and they expect to go just as far or further with this talented, senior-laden squad.
Mission Veterans (1-0 in District 31-5A, 9-2 overall) is off to a good start this year with only two losses to two good up-state teams. But Coach Casey Smith said talk of deep playoff runs is premature at this point in the season. The Patriots have to be ready to fight every night to pile up district wins.
“We don’t talk about championships very often. We talk about being a champion every day in practice, every day on and off the field,” said Smith, in his 8th year at Veterans. “Our district is extremely tough. Every team in our district is a legitimate playoff contender. Every single team one through nine.”
He’s right. Roma (which Vets hosts tonight), Valley View, Pioneer, Sharyland and the Laredo schools all pose significant challenges to the defending champs. But again, Smith has cupboard full of talent at his disposal, and he’s proven he can lead them to playoff success.
Smith has eight regular players, so far this year, hitting above .300 with four of those batting over .400 – and that includes junior first baseman Alex Rangel, senior catcher Eddie Galvan, junior infielder Anthony Gonzalez and sophomore utility Alex Guajardo. Senior Noel Vela leads the team with 16 RBI.
Galvan (3-0) has already picked up three victories from the mound, meanwhile, Guajardo and Cristian Ramos are both 2-0. Seniors on the team include: Vela, Galvan, Ramos, Jay Garcia, Jacob Guerrero, Roman De Leon and William Pena.