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High School | Rankings | 1/31/2019

Witt set to lead No. 3 Heritage

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Bobby Witt Jr. (Colleyville Heritage baseball)

2019 Perfect Game High School Preview Index


No. 3 Colleyville Heritage Panthers (Colleyville, Texas)

State Association/League: Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) Class 5A/Region I District 7
Head Coach: Alan McDougal (13th season as head coach).
2018 Results: 34-9-1 overall, 14-0 District 8 champion; UIL Class 5A regional semifinals.

Key Departures: LHP Tim Richmond (Weatherford Coll.); 1B Coleton Hinkle; 3B Dean Lawler; OF Cole Brown.

Key Returners:  Sr. SS/RHP Bobby Witt Jr. (Oklahoma); Sr. 2B/3B Mason Greer (Auburn); Sr. OF/1B Jacob Guerrero (New Mexico); Sr. 3B/OF/RHP Chandler Freeman (Dallas Baptist); Sr. C/1B Nicolas Balsano (Baylor); Sr. LHP/OF Jakob Berger (Dallas Baptist).

Key Newcomer: Sr. OF Logan Britt (Texas A&M).

Notable Matchups: Feb. 21-23 vs. Baylor Healthcare Classic; Feb. 28-March 2 vs. Arlington Martin Tournament; March 7-9 vs. Lubbock Tournament; March 12-April 26 vs. UIL 5A-7 opponents; March 23 vs. Southlake Carroll; April 6 vs. Flower Mound; April 20 vs. LD Bell.


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IF EXPERIENCE IS INDEED THE BEST TEACHER THEN THE SENIORS
that are a part of this year’s Colleyville Heritage Panthers' roster have earned master’s degrees after learning how to compete at the highest level in Texas Class 5A baseball. But there are still more lessons to learn.

Long-time head coach Alan McDougal returns one three-year starter and five two-year starters from a team that won 34 games in 2018 and were an undefeated district champion. That wealth of returning experience is recognized today when Colleyville Heritage debuts as the No. 3 team in the Perfect Game High School Preseason National Top 50 Rankings.

“There’s a swagger, of course, just because of the number of kids that are going to get an opportunity to play at the next level, and pretty high at the next level,” McDougal said of his 2019 Panthers during a recent telephone conversation with PG. “A lot of it is trying to justify what everyone thinks is just a really solid group. That helps, and just the fact that they’ve been so close and they’re hungry.”

The core of this senior group  (class of 2019) is led by the No. 1-ranked national prospect in the class, shortstop/right-hander Bobby Witt Jr., a 2018 PG All-American  who was the recipient of the 2018 Jackie Robinson Award as the PG National High School Player of the Year; he’s an elite player by anyone’s measure.

Complementing Witt are the senior group of No. 135 Chandler Freeman, No. 356 Jakob Berger, No. 392 Mason Greer and top-500s Jacob Guerrero and Nicolas Balsano. They represent the epitome of seasoned veterans that have come within just a couple of wins of achieving the ultimate goal: winning a Texas state championship.

The senior Panthers were part of a team that reached a UIL Class 5A regional final when they were sophomores in 2017 and a regional semifinal as juniors last spring but were stopped short of the state tournament both years. Witt has actually been a varsity starter the last three seasons and the other guys are two-year starters coming into this season.

“They can kind of feel what it tastes like and I think they’re ready to move to the next level and get to where we’re trying to get,” McDougal said. “All of these guys are certainly battle-tested.”

And the Panthers added another very significant piece to what was already a Grade-A roster. Senior outfielder Logan Britt, a 2018 PG All-American ranked No. 61 in the 2019 class, moved into the district over the summer and will be eligible to play for Heritage HS immediately.

“He’s an awesome kid,” McDougal said. “Hopefully, just like all these other ones, if they’re as good of baseball players as they are kids then we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

He noted that a lot of these guys have known each other and been friends since they were in elementary school, or ever since they were playing tag out on the playground during recess. That adds up to over a decade of friendship that really has turned into a brotherhood of sorts, and they really want to go out as Texas Class 5A state champions.

“For them to be able to kind of add something to it and put some meaning with it and get places that this school has never been before, I think would be special to everybody,” McDougal said. “Too many times, through (travel) baseball, they get a lot of opportunities in the summer to do some things and I’m not real sure in some instances how important the high school season is.

“For these guys, with what they’ve accomplished thus far, I think they do see some added incentive going into this senior year, which is always good for the high school coach.”

As talented as many of his teammates are, it really is Witt Jr. who makes this team go. McDougal noted that while he is very fun-loving and easy-going, Witt – the son of 18-year big-league right-hander Bobby Witt – carries himself in a very business-like manner. He does everything to the best of his ability and strives to never disappoint, regardless of the activity.

Witt happened to be in McDougal’s college algebra class at the high school and performed at a very high level in an academic setting, as well (he carries a 3.90 GPA at CHHS). It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a drill in the cage, a drill in the field or a drill in the classroom, this is a kid who is just trying to win.

He has signed a letter-of-intent with Oklahoma, but Witt is projected as a top-five overall pick in the upcoming MLB June Amateur Draft, with several early mock drafts predicting the Orioles to select him No. 1 overall.

“When the people that are watching him – which most of the kids are – see him compete at that (level) it’s very easy for me as a coach to say, ‘Look at what this guy’s doing,’” McDougal said. “Of all the ones that are out here he could take a backseat on a lot of this stuff, but not only does he not do that but he wants to get to the front of the line.”

With the presence of Witt, Britt and several of the other highly regarded prospects in the Panthers’ lineup this spring, it is certain their games will be must-see for scouting department personnel from all 30 major league teams. Just knowing that some very important sets of eyes are watching their every move, that should raise all of the Panthers’ level of play.

“That’s the added bonus of all these people coming to see Bobby and a few of the other guys,” McDougal said. “They don’t just look at those players, they have to look at the rest of the bunch that rounds it out. That’s an opportunity for our guys that are maybe a little bit under the radar to get on the radar.”

The spoken goal of everyone associated with the Colleyville Heritage HS program is to win a state championship this spring and the outward appearance is that the Panthers have the horses to achieve that goal.

Viewed from a late-January perspective it can be difficult for a young player to envision exactly what it looks like to win a state championship in early June, but these guys’ experiences of having gotten so close the last two years should help them with that vision moving forward.

It’s a day-to-day process that requires consistency and nothing can be put-off until tomorrow. If that approach is maintained over the next four months – being really good at everything they do on a daily basis – there’s a good chance the Panthers will be rewarded in the end.

“What we’ve got going on our side is that we’re a really talented group,” McDougal said. “I’m not having to convince these guys that they’re good enough to be in this situation and I want them to embrace that. They’ve earned that right through their development over the last few years and I want them to embrace the target that we’re going to have.

“Every time we go out there everyone’s going to want to beat us and they’re going to want to send a message to what people think might be the best player in the country,” he concluded. “It looks good for everyone’s resume to beat the Panthers and I don’t want to shy away from that.”



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