High School Baseball: Benavides aiming high under first-year coach
The last time Benavides was state-ranked in baseball was in 2011.
Since then, the Eagles have only had one playoff appearance, which came during the 2016 season.
In 2021, first-year coach Gilbert Garcia is looking to put an end to the drought.
The Eagles are off to a good start under Garcia after starting the week ranked in the Top 15 of the latest Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 1A poll.
Benavides was also named the THSBCA Class 1A team of the week after winning first place at the Riviera Tournament.
The Eagles are off to a 4-1 start with two wins against Riviera, Agua Dulce and Pettus.
"It's exciting for the kids and it's exciting for the town of Benavides," said Garcia, who graduated from Ben Bolt. "We finally have a program coming together. It's been a rough season in the other sports, but it feels good starting out on top. I told the guys, 'The only way we can go now is down.' The kids have the motivation that they can do something."
Garcia, 28, has been impressed with seniors Damian Viera, Andres Hinajosa, and Ryan Guzman.
But Garcia admitted his freshman duo Matthew Cadena and Ruben Pena and junior Edward Hernandez have helped set the tone throughout the early part of the season.
Even after the Eagles' season-opening loss to Class 3A Mathis, Garcia said the players were ready to get back to work.
"We're a young group with a lot of freshman," Garcia said. "Ever since the loss to Mathis, they've opened up."
The Eagles open District 32-1A action March 9 against Bruni. Benavides will also compete against Lasara and San Perlit in league play.
The Eagles continue non-district play Thursday in the Rockport-Fulton tournament against the Pirates, IWA and Orange Grove.
"It was tough at the beginning, but I told them we were going to play a tough preseason," Garcia said. "We're not going to play lower class teams. To be the best, we have to beat the best."