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Eight Coyotes return for Another Baseball Season

 

The Weatherford College baseball team matched its best postseason performance in team history last season, knocking on the door of the NJCAA World Series with a Region V championship series appearance.

Baseball 2018 logoNow, with four returning position players, four returning pitchers and a slew of new talent, plans are to break through the door this season.

“We’re returning some key players that have been in the fight before,” said head coach Jeff Lightfoot.

The Coyotes are also fueled by the tradition Lightfoot and his teams have created since he came onboard as the only head coach in program history in 2003. Last season he won his 600th game as a head coach. His 2004 team reached the regional finals. Also, prior to coming to Weatherford, Lightfoot won a NJCAA Division III World Series in 2001, a year after reaching the finals.

“Expectations are set extremely high,” Lightfoot said. “Our guys understand that comes with suiting up for the Coyotes. They are ready to meet the challenge.”

Lightfoot’s career record over 18 seasons is 616-426, including 473-354 at Weatherford College.

The Coyotes finished 35-23 last season after standing 19-19 at one point. They fell to McLennan in three games in the best-of-three regional final, with the Highlanders going on to finish fifth in the World Series.

Returning sophomore position starters for the Coyotes are catchers Landon Gray (7 home runs, 52 RBI, 32 walks, All-North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference) and Jake White, first baseman Blake Burns and second baseman Andrew Keefer (.448 batting average, 6 home runs, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 73 hits).

Keefer was named the conference Offensive Player of the Year.

Returning sophomore pitchers, all right-handed, are Jake Lyons (8-3, 2.87 ERA, 119 strikeouts, 15 walks, 87.2 innings, all-conference), Toby Davis (4-0, 53.2 innings), Mitchell Walters (4-4) and Zach Boyett.

Last year, Lyons set team records for strikeouts in a season and in a game (18). He was drafted in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres, but opted to return to the team. He was also named the NJCAA National Pitcher of the Week twice during the season.

Gray was also drafted in the 38th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but also opted to return.

Lightfoot is also excited about a host of new freshmen recruits, including shortstop Yaniel Ramos (Puerto Rico), third baseman J.T. Thompson (Frisco), outfielder Garrett Crews (Frisco) and right-handed pitchers Maddux Miller (Arlington) and Eric Jones (Flower Mound).

Lightfoot said, as usual, the NTJCAC will be arguably the toughest conference in the nation. Ditto for the region.

“McLennan is loaded again; Grayson returns many sophomores as well,” Lightfoot said. “The rest of the conference will be very tough.”

As for the region, Lightfoot added, “Howard, New Mexico and Odessa are expected to be very good as well.”

And Lightfoot said something else in the conference is the toughest in the nation – the Coyote’s home field, Williams Ballpark – and issued an invitation to locals.

“We need the full support of Parker County at Williams Ballpark, the toughest place to play in the country,” he said.

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by Rick Mauch