Reaching the 20-win mark and earning a top 10 state ranking are among the outstanding achievements already reached by the Falls City Beavers baseball team so far during the 2021 campaign, but the team has bigger goals it hopes to accomplish.
Under the leadership of Will Gates, in his third year as head coach, the Beavers have already reached a plateau that many other teams could only dream about, much less attain.
But the drive to accomplish even more is what is propelling this team, which has compiled a 20-3 mark, including 7-1 in District 30-2A play. The Beavers lone loss in district play so far was an 11-7 setback to the Sabinal Yellow Jackets on March 23. After that, the Beavers went into overdrive, winning eight straight, including an 8-5 triumph over Sabinal in a rematch of the teams on April 13.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Gates said “They come ready to work hard every day and always give you their best. And they are winners. They know how to win.”
The Beavers had an 8-3 record in 2020 when the season was abruptly terminated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the team hungry to accomplish more this year.
Falls City was able to rely on seven returning starters this season, two seniors, Tanner Soliz and Alex Hofauer; four juniors, Grant Jendrusch, Jaxson Pipes, Cody Arrisola and J.D. Sartwelle; and sophomore Ayden Gates.
“Tanner has been our leader,” Gates said. “He starts off every game as our leadoff and has been our No. 1 starter on the mound. Alex leads us in batting average and has been a solid bat for us. Grant is our catcher, works hard behind the plate, and has a solid bat for us in the lineup. JD hits the ball well for us, and plays second base.
“Jaxson has locked down shortstop for us and makes a lot of plays. Cody has a lot of power at the plate and is an athletic first baseman. Ayden has been solid for us on the mound, gets on base a lot for us — he has a high on base percentage.”
Jacob Hofauer and Wesley Molina have also helped spark the Beavers outstanding season, Gates said.
“Jacob Hofauer missed most of his sophomore year with an injury and all of last (shortened) year with an injury. He came back out his senior year and has made some really incredible plays in the outfield and hits for power at the plate. Wesley Molina plays the outfield for us. He plays multiple positions, he is a solid outfielder who continues to get better.”
Gates said he knew early in the season that the Beavers had a chance to do great things.
“We beat Flatonia and Round Top Carmine in one day in the Flatonia tournament,” he said. “We had 24 hits in those two games. We beat D’hanis 4-1 and they are ranked second in (Class) 1A. We got down 5-0 to Sabinal here in Falls City and were able to come back and win 8-5. Tremendous team effort in all of those games.”
The team’s drive and attitude has fueled its success, Gates said adding that what stands out to him is “their competitiveness. They are a very close group of kids. They all support each other. Everyone brings something to the table. It was a tough start to the year. With the snow and COVID closures we didn’t get started till late. We had one practice before our first game.”
The Beavers have made the most of the season so far, and were scheduled to face Johnson City in a May 7-8 clash at the Converse Judson baseball field in the opening round of the playoffs. Results of those games were not available at presstime.