The Magnolia West Mustangs are ready to fulfill some big goals and expectations in 2019.
“We’re a program that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014,” Mustangs coach Justin Faltysek said in a recent phone interview. “The players are setting expectations and lofty goals. Having said that, they are attainable goals.”
The Mustangs, coming off a 14-13 record last spring, return experienced players all over the field.
It starts on the mound with ace pitcher Connor Phillips, who signed with LSU last week.
“Connor looks sharp,” Faltysek said. “He’s excited and has been getting a lot of attention right now. He’s handling it well. He isn’t losing focus on his senior year. This team, this program is a big priority for him. Connor is being Connor and doing what he’s supposed to do.”
Phillips had an ERA of 1.75 as a junior and batted .410 at the plate (he also plays center field).
The 6-foot-2 righty is the centerpiece of a deep pitching staff. Faltysek remarked that his team has 10 varsity-ready pitchers with five of them being left-handed.
Zach Wall, Brady Huckfelt, Carson Carpenter and Dylan Van Wicklen can all pitch. The Mustangs also return a pitcher in Robert Revels, who signed with Hill Junior College last week. Revels missed his junior year due to injury. Senior John Matocha, the school’s quarterback the past three years, re-joins the baseball team this spring and can pitch as well.
Rounding out the Magnolia West roster are Prairie View A&M-signed D’Angelo Hinojosa, Willie Ibarra and Austin Maddox.
Wall signed with Air Force Academy last week. He was district Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore.
“He’s just another guy who’s a team leader,” Faltysek said. “He’s a kid that’s going off to play baseball at the Air Force Academy. That just kind of tells the type of kid he is.”
The Mustangs will compete in the newly-established District 19-5A for the next two years. The league features not only a rival in Magnolia but also College Station, A&M Consolidated, Bryan Rudder, Waller, Brenham and Katy Paetow.
“So many talented and well-coached teams,” Faltysek said of the district. “Brenham and College Station are in every preseason poll that you see. A&M Consolidated and solid and Magnolia is obviously going to be there.”
Faltysek became head coach last year and worked his first year on campus under head coach James Dillard, who now heads the program at Bryan. The second-year head coach is hoping to see his program continue to trend up.
“There’s a little more energy in the program and a lot of excitement,” Faltysek said. “With the returning players coming back, expectations are rising as well. We’re a program that is working hard to turn the corner and establish our baseball identity and create a successful program.”