|Wildcats rely on pitching, catching duo for district run|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 24, 2006 - When you look at the lineup for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, seniors Alex Aguilar and Scott Stewart jump out as players who have stepped up their play with new head coach Jerrod Hammack.
Stewart was a Second Team All-District catcher last year - a season in which he batted .286 with 19 RBI and seven doubles - and has taken a step up this season in which he is batting .394 with 13 walks, nine RBI and two home runs in 16 games.
"I think just experience of seeing varsity pitching and finally being able to get my swing and timing down this year helps me a lot," said Stewart, the son of Daniel and Caroline Stewart. "The key is to hit the pitch that you want to hit and just be patient."
Stewart is in his third season on varsity and second year as the starting catcher for the Wildcats. A district title is on his mind and those of his teammates.
"We are going to win district, unlike last year, and we will have tough competition and they will all be good games," Stewart said. "Right now, we are looking for the district championship, but the state playoffs are our ultimate goal, and we want to get to that goal."
The Wildcats will be riding the arm of three-year lettermen Aguilar for six of the 10 district starts - as he has thrown 20 1/3 innings this year giving up 13 hits, striking out 33 batters and walking only one with two earned runs. Aguilar had a 2.54 ERA in 77 1/3 innings last year.
"It makes me feel pretty good and it makes my confidence go up a lot and I am looking forward to starting in all of them," said Aguilar, the son of Paul and Laree Aguilar. "I will be looking for a challenge and Paris will be a good one to start out with. I hope we come out with a win."
The Wildcats (11-5) open the District 12-4A season tonight at home against Paris.
Stewart said he is comfortable catching for Aguilar and knows exactly what Alex needs to do during his starts.
"Alex has to bring that fastball inside quick, and with anybody that is pitching you want to get ahead of the count and be able to mix up all of your pitches," he said.
With the defending district champions coming to town tonight, Stewart said the Wildcats are ready to face them again this year in a battle for the district crown and the early lead in district play.
"Both games that we played them in last year were tough games and good games all around," Stewart said. "We played them there in the first game last year and now we get them here, so we are going to show them how to play some baseball and we are ready for them."
Aguilar said now is the time for the team to really start coming together and that the defense needs to continue playing the way they have this season.
"We have to come together as a team and be able to hit the ball when it needs to be hit and score a lot of runs," said Aguilar. "It has been good, and I hope they are able to keep it up during the district season."
Both players said their ultimate goal for the season is to win the district and get past the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
"I hope that we can make it to the playoffs and go at least two rounds deep for me and that is what my goal is," Aguilar said.
Stewart knows the experience of the Wildcats this year will help in reaching their goal for the season.
"Definitely lack of experience last year was a big thing and we came into a new situation with everybody's first year on varsity in the playoffs and we didn't know what to do," he said. "Throughout district, we will take each situation as it comes and make the most out of it."