CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Ray Texans are the top ranked program in UIL 5A in the Coastal Bend. No. 6 in one preseason poll and No. 2 in the other, but the hard work starts now to get back to playoffs.
It's Texas A&M signee Jack Bell's fourth season practicing with varsity, but like every year each player has to earn their starting role.
"The friendly competition you know. We take it back to the locker room," Jack Bell, Texans senior shortstop, said. "Maybe some ping pong after, but definitely like I said the friendly competition you know. Everyone wants to have a starting job."
On defense the Texans have a lot of senior veteran leadership on the mound, but it also starts right here at shortstop.
"If I'm vocal with the new third baseman, maybe a second baseman that could be new, depends on the rotation," Bell said. "We have such new guys at new positions, it's going to need a vocal leader."
The Texans' new catcher will have a strong support system at the bump. Last season, Keevyn Goss (6-0)dished out 75 strikeouts and Christian Martinez delivered 72 punch outs and went (9-0).
"Our pitching staff is always doing our jobs with following up with a great defense, but when our offense comes through it's unbeatable," Christian Martinez, Ray senior pitcher, said.
Ray's results last season still sting after falling short in the regional semifinals to eventual state champion Georgetown.
"Knowing that feeling of going home early compared to where we wanted to be last year I think that our players are going to know and it's going to resonate with them," Kiernen Cruger, Ray senior pitcher, said. "So they're going to want to go all the way this year and not ever have to relive that experience again."
Ray starts their season at home against Laredo United on Monday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.
The @raytexanbsbl finished in the fourth round of UIL 5A playoffs. They’ve got some roles to fill, but their veteran experience is ready to pave the way for another run. ⚾️ @jackbell2023 @keevyn_goss @KRIS6sports @JPeralesOTE @wbrayhs pic.twitter.com/OlxcRPPAyK— Larissa Liska (@LarissaLiska) January 25, 2023