Farmersville claimed the district championship last season, and is hoping to do so again in 2023.
The Farmers still boast plenty of returning talent from last year’s roster, with several key contributors back in the lineup. Seniors Cooper Strawn and Logan Dale lead the way, while juniors Brady Gray, Collin Berry and Caden Norman, along with sophomores Paxon Graves and Mason Erwin provide depth and talent.
Head coach Jon Nordin likes to keep expectations high for the program, and with the returners this season it’s no different.
“Our goals are no different than they were a year ago,” Nordin said. “We want to win the district championship and we want to win playoff games. We think we can be good enough to do both, but it will be a chore. Our district top to bottom is better than it was a year ago. All six teams expect to be in the playoffs, and all six teams have talented players.”
The competition will be stiff for a Farmers team that had no trouble in district play last year, and will continue to rely on their strong pitching rotation again. They had the best ERA in 2022, and most of their key starters are back, including Strawn and Norman leading the way.
“We’ll definitely lean on our pitching,” Nordin said. “We have some proven guys who were good a year ago, and we think they’re even better now. We’ll be good defensively in a lot of places, but we have some things to figure out in some spots too. We’re a work in progress defensively right now and are going to have to play better in some places.”
Strawn was the big name on the mound last season, leading the Farmers in wins, strikeouts, and ERA, and was one of the most dominant players in the district last season. The Texas A&M commit has high expectations for his senior year.
“Cooper took a big step forward last year, and I expect he’ll take another one,” Nordin said. “When your pitcher can put up big strikeout numbers, it makes you look better defensively, and Cooper gives us that. He puts a lot of time and effort into preparing to pitch, and he’s ready to go. We’re blessed because we really like Caden, Collin and Mason on the mound as well. We can win w all of them. We anticipate that they’ll all spend a lot of time on the mound.”
Two of those spots are the corner infield positions, where Aidan Marquez and Jason Gomez occupied the corner infield positions for the majority of the season. Kaden Johnson is expected to fill in at third, while Strawn will play first when not on the mound. Tye Thompson, Brayden Malone and freshman Landon Dunham are all expected to contribute around the diamond as well. Dunham will likely play first when Strawn is on the mound.
While the team feels good about Johnson moving to third base and his talent, Gomez’s glove at first and key bat in the heart of the order will be a key question for the Farmers this season.
“Jason was a special high school hitter,” Nordin said. “We won’t have one guy replace his production. We hope all of our guys have improved enough at the plate to help make up for him.”
One area the Farmers will not have questions about is behind the plate, where Gray helms the spot as one of the key returners last season. A recent commit to Abilene Christian, Nordin referred to him as one of the premier players at a key position in baseball.
“Brady is elite behind the plate and we are fortunate to have him,” Nordin said. “I try not to take him for granted. There’s never been a good baseball team without a good catcher, and we certainly have one. He’s another guy who has spent a lot of time over the years getting good at what he does and we benefit from that every time we play.”
Farmersville’s season begins on Feb. 23-25 as the team travels to Mesquite for their opening tournament. The team’s first home game is on March 7 against Frisco Panther Creek. As the Farmers prepare for a long season and potential playoff run, the key for Nordin and the team is staying healthy and being available for district play.
“We need to do all we can to have all of our guys available every game,” Nordin said. “There aren’t many of us, but there’s enough. It’s a close group that really likes each other and they all have the same goal, which is for the Farmers to win. I’m fortunate to get to spend so much time with them, and I can’t wait for us to get going.”
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