Texico returns all but four players from last year’s state title team. (Staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
For some teams, a trip across the state would be a distraction. Texico coach Richard Luscombe said this week’s trip to Los Lunas is completely normal for his team.
“Most of my kids play football and basketball,” Luscombe said. “They’re used to getting on the bus and traveling; it’s nothing new to them. In football and basketball, three hours away is a district game. (Traveling) is really the least of my concerns.”
The third-seeded Wolverines play sixth-seeded Penasco today in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
Another element Texico is used to is winning; the Wolverines won the state title last season.
“They’ve been there,” Luscombe said. “They understand what it’s like. I understand what it’s like.”
The Wolverines (11-7) lost four players from last year’s championship team but have an upper-classmen-heavy roster looking to repeat.
Seniors Aaron Vaughan and Zane Anderson are Texico’s biggest offensive threats. Vaughan is hitting .600 and has hit 11 home runs. Anderson is hitting .550 and has five homers.
Vaughan said last year’s state experience should weigh in Texico’s favor.
“I really think it will help our nerves,” said Vaughan, who catches, pitches and plays shortstop. “I think we’ll be able to keep calm.”
Junior Theo Mare has been the Wolverine’s most consistent pitcher, earning an 8-2 record this season.
Luscombe said he does not know much about Penasco (15-6).
“I know they hit the ball well,” he said. “It’s a team we’ll have to play well to beat. It’s going to come down to who can hit.”
The Wolverines have looked dominant at times, winning their district games by an average score of 20-4.
“Sometimes it helps you and sometimes it hurts,” Luscombe said of the competition disparity. “But I think the top eight teams in the state are all pretty good.”
The Wolverines will be heading to the state tourney on a two-game losing streak. They lost 19-1 in an exhibition against Clovis, then fell 11-10 to Elida on Thursday.
Elida also beat Texico 16-10 early in the season.
“We haven’t been able to play them at 100 percent yet,” Luscombe said, citing the fact three of his players missed the latest game due to the state track meet. “But still, they hit the ball in crucial situations, and we didn’t.”
The Wolverines will get another shot at the second-seeded Tigers if both teams win their first-round games.
“I hope we do see them,” Luscombe said. “They’ve been real close ball games. Hopefully the third time around we’ll beat them.”
Vaughan said the Texico seniors are looking for a little redemption after a trying year in which the Wolverines finished as state runner-up in football after two straight titles and failed to qualify for state in basketball.
“We kind of want to go out with bang,” Vaughan said. “The class before us set an example and we’d like to at least do well in baseball.”
Texico won state football and baseball titles in the 2004-05 school year.