When people talk about Allen sports, they tend to gravitate toward the championships that define the football, basketball and wrestling programs. But let it be known: Allen’s baseball program is no joke.
With an overall record of 18-7-1 and a district record of 7-3, the Eagles are off to a hot start that has them sitting in first place in the district with regular season coming to a close.
“We’re off to a really good start,” senior shortstop Mason La Plante said. “We’re really finding out what kind of team we are. We’ve been in a lot of big games, playing some really tough competition early on. We’ve got some great leaders on the team. Not a lot of experience, but a lot of guys who know how to play the game the right way.”
Last season the team went 24-13 overall with an 11-3 record in district play, leading to the team’s first playoff berth since 2015. That team was 16-10 at this point in the season last year, meaning that this year’s team is off to an even better start.
“When you win, you learn to win and you expect to win,” head coach Paul Coe said. “Last year really helped us step in that direction as far as expecting to go out and win, not just hoping to win.”
The Eagles have averaged five runs per game while giving up three runs per game, resulting in a run differential of plus-47. The team has hit four home runs this season, led by sophomore first basemen Cole Latos with two.
“We’re just trying to do what we do,” Latos said. “What we do is win, so we’re going to try to do that.”
This year’s team is marked by an entirely new pitching staff, as all of last year’s pitchers graduated. One of the players stepping up to fill that void is freshman pitcher Brett Tanksley, a starter for the Eagles.
“I’m just helping the team whenever I can, however I can,” Tanksley said. “We’ve been practicing hard every single day. We’re staying relaxed through it all.”
According to Coe, an important factor in equipping younger players to be successful is having quality coaches.
“We’re blessed in Allen to have a really good coaching staff,” Coe said. “A lot of the schools in the state of Texas, they’ve got football coaches who coach baseball. Well, we’ve got guys that love baseball too.”
With 22 upperclassmen on a team of 27 players, several of Allen’s players have played baseball together for all of their lives, a fact which Coe says has helped the team be successful.
“No matter what talent level you have, you’ve got to have team chemistry,” Coe said. “We’ve got some guys who pull for each other, that are good friends on and off the field, which always leads to success. I think that’s the big starting point for any good team, and I think that’s kind of what we have with this bunch. ”
In a school where teams have won state in football, basketball and wrestling, playoffs have a special kind of pressure for Allen teams. But according to La Plante, that’s just a part of playing at Allen High School.
“Every team that we play wants to beat us because of the football program,” La Plante said. “We haven’t won as many state championships, but we feel like we’re on the rise. We talk about developing a culture at Allen, in every program, in every sport, and the culture and the expectation is to win a state championship, and it’s no different with us.”
All information in the article is up to date as of April 16.