LBJ Baseball Leads Off in 2020 with Returning Starters and New Captains


Charles Taylor, Sports Editor

In 2019, the LBJ varsity baseball team secured the first playoff win for the program since 1982 against Kerrville Tivy. However, the team’s 12-2 loss in the third and final game of the series on May 4, 2019 marked an unsatisfactory finish to a 20-12 season. Head Coach Eric Martanovic said there are areas of improvement for the team, and the players look forward to playing together again.

The Jaguars retain their entire coaching staff for the 2020 season, along with four elected captains: senior catcher Walker Kohler, LBJ senior and shortstop Carlos Garcia, senior pitcher and infielder Jack Murphy and junior and third baseman Ikey Kohler. Martanovic said the captains have worked hard in the off-season and have started determining future team captains.

“Overall they have done a great job,” Martanovic said. “They lead their own off-season workouts and are busy identifying and developing the next set of leaders for next year. We have a great system in place to ensure continuity of leadership.”

Ikey Kohler said to improve this season, the team needs to work on winning close games. He said the Jags must pair their good defense with better hitting.

“We just need to win more tight games so we can win district this year,” Kohler said. “We were right in it last year, we just fell short, and hopefully we can hit better this year, because our defense was solid.”

Martanovic acknowledged this concern but said he believes the team’s offense will improve this year. He said the team’s experience, individual practice and better equipment will help with hitting.

“Historically, we have always been slow to start hitting and scoring runs,” Martanovic said. “I anticipate a change this year due to the number of seniors on the team and the amount of time they have spent seeking additional development on their own. We have also purchased new equipment we will use in practice to help us become more powerful hitters.”

Along with defense, Garcia mentioned unity as a major strength of the team. According to Garcia, having a starting lineup of seniors who have played together will strengthen the team’s already strong bond.

“I would say our biggest strength is how close we are to each other,” Garcia said. “You know how in different teams there are groups of people that stay away from each other? We’re all together. That’s what makes us special, because we all know each other. We are close to each other.”

Ikey Kohler said scoring consistently was a challenge for the team last year and is something the team is looking forward to improving this year. According to Kohler, because of the team’s good pitching, if the team can hit and get on a roll, it will have success.

“As long as we can hit the ball, we’ll be alright because we have pretty good pitching depth and then it’s really just getting hot at the right time,” Kohler said.

Garcia explained the team’s focused manner of improving in specific areas during practice. He said players constantly work to improve skills that were lacking in games during practice.

“We work every day in practice,” Garcia said. “As we see things that we need to work on, we focus on that thing until we become good at it and then see another thing and then work on that. So we see it during games, and then we work on it in practice.”

Martanovic said McCallum High School and Dripping Springs High School are teams the Jags anticipate playing most. He said the Jags have to adjust their style of play in order to be competitive in games that are within a day of each other.

“We never look past any opponent, but McCallum and Dripping Springs are always hard-fought games for us,” Martanovic said. “The two series both happen on short weeks for us this year. McCallum is during spring break on back-to-back days and Dripping Springs is during the week of Easter with one day between games. A plan is in place to make sure we have our key pitching rested and ready to go for these series.”

Garcia said the team is aiming to win 20 games like last year, and he said everyone is hoping for multiple wins in a playoff series. He said the team’s main goal is to win the district championship above all else.

“I would say we’re going for 15-plus wins, maybe 20 like last year, and we’re definitely looking forward to winning a playoff series,” Garcia said. “We won a game last year but couldn’t win the series, but this year, that’s what we want. And a district title, too. Those are the two main things.”

Ikey Kohler said the team should be successful moving forward during the season. He expects that the Jags will make a deep run at a district championship.

“We definitely have a very good chance of winning district this year,” Kohler said. “Last year, we won a playoff game, our first playoff win since 1982 against Kerrville Tivy. So we’re looking to make it deep in the playoffs this year and make a run.”