Coach John Roberts: All-state honors speak to quality of L-K baseball

LIDEN, Texas — The Linden-Kildare Tigers landed three of their players on the Texas Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A all-state team last week, and Coach John Roberts says it speaks to the quality of the baseball program.

“It gives everybody a sense of pride in the program and it also gives everybody a sense of wanting to achieve those goals also,” Roberts said. “It’s obviously good to get recognized when you feel like you did something good.”

Junior Nick Kunze made the first team as first baseman. Kunze’s offensive prowess was a chief reason for the Tigers to advance as far as the state title game against Dallardsville Big Sandy.

“He had a great year offensively,” said Roberts. “He helped us with a lot of clutch hits. He was definitely a big threat in our lineup. That was huge for us for the success we had offensively.”

While the Tigers did not have any representation on the second team, they did have two players on the third team in starting pitcher Jacob Owen and sophomore reliever Mason Johnson.

Owen demonstrated the quality in the clutch he also had on display during the fall as the Tigers’ starting quarterback on the football team.

Said Roberts: “[Owen] played every elimination game we had in the playoffs. In almost every series we lost game one and had to win game two. He was on the mound for game two and he was the man on the mound in our state semifinal game that got us to the state championship game. So, every must-win game we had, he was standing on the mound just about. He was a senior and his leadership was huge for us also.”

The recognition Johnson garnered is especially significant as it shows that while leadership and talent such as Owen’s is graduating, it is being replenished in the program by the likes of Johnson.

“It’s good recognition for our program and that’s huge,” Roberts said. “People want to be recognized for their success just like we as a program want to be recognized for our success, and those things do that. It recognizes the individual and it recognizes the program.

Even though Dallardsville Big Sandy, led by all-state player of the year in Broch Holmes, knocked off the Tigers, keeping them from reaching the ultimate goal, Coach John Roberts is nonetheless proud of his players, the season they had, the prognosis for the future, both as a team and in their individual lives.

“I’m really proud of the kids and the year that we had,” said Roberts. “I can’t say enough about any of those kids. They’re all great kids. They did what they needed to do for us to be successful.”