Liberty-Eylau hopes to challenge for first district baseball title since 2007

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Liberty-Eylau baseball coach Zach Fowler was a pitcher on the Leopards' last district championship baseball team.


Third-year head coach Zach Fowler believes his 2019 baseball team is ready to challenge for Liberty-Eylau’s first district baseball title since 2007.

In 2007 the Leopards were the defending 3A state champions. They were favored to repeat with the return of pitchers Will Middlebrooks and Zach Fowler, but they lost in the state championship game.

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“This year it feels a lot better as far as the depth is concerned,” said Fowler, who played in the Baltimore Orioles organization three seasons. He enjoyed a solid collegiate career at Louisiana Tech, Texarkana College and Texas Tech. “There’s more talent nine through twelve than what we’ve been having. There’s no doubt in my mind that Liberty-Eylau is on its way back.

“We have the work ethic, and now I think we have the talent. It’s just a matter of time before we’re back to where we need to be.”

Liberty-Eylau was 9-17 in 2018, but the Leopards scored wins over some solid programs. L-E swept Paris in district play, and split with North Lamar. The Leopards had non-district wins over Kilgore, Rusk, Hallsville and Arkansas High.

Senior Marzavian Riles heads an experienced outfield for Liberty-Eylau in 2019.

Fowler welcomes back six starters from that team. That list includes seniors  Marzavian Riles in the outfield; outfielder/pitcher Dakota Miller; second baseman/pitcher Blake Carter; infielder/pitcher Drew Langford; first baseman Kevin Garza and junior catcher Ethan Brooks.

Senior Dakota Miller will pitch and play in the outfield for the Leopards.

L-E deep on the mound with 12 arms

“We have some quality arms back on the bump,” said Fowler. “Our junior varsity pitchers from last season have improved a lot. Spencer Aldridge will pitch a lot for us. Miller won some big games for us last year, and Ben Witterstaetter threw a lot of innings for us. Parker Gooman was a freshman on the junior varsity last year, and he’s looked good early.”

Senior Matthew O’Neal, junior Dawson Howard, sophomore Nate Moore and freshman Jackson Dean could all contribute at the varsity level.

Nothing has changed in regard to Pleasant Grove being the team to beat in district.

“Pleasant Grove is the one that everyone is always going to talk about,” said Fowler. “Pittsburg is good. It’s a tough district. If you want to win this district, it means you’ve got a chance to go to Austin. Hopefully, we’ll win district.”

Former schoolboy teammate Ricky Rushing, and 2010 L-E alumnus Cody Engstrom will once again be assisting Fowler.

The Leopards will hold their annual fundraiser Saturday with the varsity/alumni game. Breakfast will be served (9 a.m.) at H.E. Markham Park, a donation of any amount gets a plate. The alumni will take batting practice at 10 a.m. The game is scheduled to start at noon. Fowler urges all former L-E baseball players to come out an participate.

L-E’s season begins Feb. 22 in the Pine Tree tournament at Longview.

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