Tournaments | Story | 7/23/2020

Dallas Tigers Hernandez Function as Family

Brett Greenberg        
Photo: Ryan Johnson (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. – For Coach Hernandez and the Dallas Tigers organization, having a team compiled of players who are like family and have each other’s backs is of the upmost importance. This year’s 17U team embodies this in every way. The 2021 Tigers currently have 10 players who are committed to play college baseball, which include commitments to the University of Texas, University of Arkansas, Vanderbilt University, and others. Many of the players have played together since they were just 12 years old, something that is considered to be rare once you get to the 17U age group.

Some of the featured players on this team in the 2021/2022 class include:

1. Jordan Lawlar: #2 SS in the U.S. (Vanderbilt University commit)

2. Ryan Johnson: #7 RHP in Texas; #249 overall player in U.S. (Dallas Baptist commit)

3. Preston Tabor: unranked LHP out of Texas; (uncommitted)

4. Tyler Collins: #1 OF in Texas; #101 overall player in U.S. (Oklahoma State commit)

5. Nathan Humphreys: #5 OF in Texas; (Dallas Baptist commit) 

6. Ryan Walker: #7 OF in Texas; .500 batting average; (uncommitted) 

Having several players on the roster already committed to college is a testament to the culture that has been built around the Tigers’ organization and the way Coach Tommy Hernandez coaches. Coach Hernandez has been at the helm of this team for nearly 10 years and says he would not change it for the world. He mentioned family atmosphere and loyalty, which has contributed to his players getting so many offers. The players are the ones who are responsible for college coaches loving this team because “they [the players] had to do something right to engage the interest of scouts. It’s really our players who have been making the plays and playing the game the right way. We also have national recognition from players who have come through and played here in the past,” according to Coach Hernandez.

As for this season, the Tigers are competing in their first tournament due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Based out of Coppell, Texas, the pandemic greatly restricted what they were able to do as a team. They practiced on a field as a  team just two times before heading east to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in this week’s WWBA National Championship. Coach Hernandez is so proud of his players because each of them was able to get to a field or rent a cage on their own in order to work on getting in shape, be it pitching or hitting.

“We were completely shut down for three months,” said Coach Hernandez. “It was a slow start, but our players have been so good with trying to get back to where they need to be.”

Although this team will only be competing together for a month, Coach Hernandez made it clear that he wants to see his team improve upon defense and brain lapses in intense situations. The Tigers are based on fundamentals and take the extra base whenever they can. If you are lucky enough to watch this talented team, it is apparent that the coaching staff preaches doing the little things correctly, including executing pick offs and delayed steals.

The pitching staff has been tremendous allowing just seven runs in their first five games. This staff is not built on big pitchers who overpower opposing hitters, rather, the staff is compiled of pitchers who hit their spots and force groundballs. The pitchers trust the defense behind them.

The Tigers are undefeated in their short season so far, which is extremely impressive given the short amount of playing time each of these players have had with no high school season as well. Coach Hernandez says he preaches two things to his players: 1. Do not worry about the results as long as you work hard. 2. Execute and see what happens. These two simple rules to follow have allowed the Tigers to dominate the field this week.

As mentioned, the Tigers organization operates as a family. Coach Hernandez has been to weddings, events, etc. of former players and coaches. Hernandez and his assistant coach, Mike Humphries, have coached together for several years and in fact, Humphries has had all three of his boys go through the Tigers organization. The coaching staff preaches loyalty and respecting opponents and umpires.

The Tigers won their first bracket game over the FTB Giants and will be playing Thursday morning at 10:15 a.m. at East Cobb against 5 Star Performance 17U National. By the end of the day, the field will be narrowed down to the final four teams, with the semifinal and championship games being held on Friday morning.
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