Bulldogs baseball heads to state

Kilgore High School’s current catcher, recently-graduated Khalon Clayton (left), took a moment Thursday night for this photo with David Hedrick, Kilgore’s catcher in 1972, the program’s last appearance in the UIL state tournament.

There are four programs in the UIL’s Class 4A state baseball tournament next week – and Kilgore High School will be one of them.

Kilgore’s baseball program, guided by coach Eugene Lafitte, won the Class 4A Region II championship on Thursday night at Dallas Baptist University.  The Diamond ‘Dogs will represent the region in the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A state tournament next week at UFCU Disch-Falk Field at the University of Texas in Austin.

The celebration began on the field for the players right after the win around 9:30 p.m., and continued throughout the night on social media with friends and family, and members of the community.

It’s Kilgore’s first trip to the state tournament since 1972, and will be their fourth overall. Kilgore had near-misses in 2004, and again in 2018. But this year, there was no near-miss. Kilgore has a shot to win its first-ever state title in baseball.

KHS – now 32-7 overall this season – beat Benbrook, a Fort Worth school, twice this week to earn their trip to the state’s baseball final four. See today’s sports section for coverage of Kilgore-Benbrook.

The Bulldogs won’t play again until Wednesday at UT, either at 1 p.m. or at 4. The other series are ongoing, and at press time, Kilgore’s opponent and time were not set.

When it is set, likely this weekend, we’ll have that announcement on kilgorenewsherald.com, and on the News Herald’s Facebook page.

Tickets are all general admission at Disch-Falk, where the Longhorns play, and student tickets are $7 each. Adult tickets are $12 each. All-tournament passes are $35, although the other classifications’ tournaments are played at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

Parking passes for $5 each can be purchased for lots 109, 113, 114 and 121 (the new gravel lot located off 20th Street).

Disch-Falk is located at 1300 E. Martin Luther King Boulevard, in Austin, at the corner of MLK and Comal Street.

If you can’t go, but you’re willing to spend a little bit, all of the games will be broadcast online at nfhsnetwork.com/championships/spring/state/Texas?sport=baseball.com, for a subscription price. There are different levels. Click on the “subscribe” link on the left side of the page.

As a school, Kilgore seeks its first team state championship since 2017, when the boys soccer program won the Class 4A title in Georgetown. The Bulldogs’ football program won a state championship with an undefeated season in 2004 (16-0), and reached the state championship game in 2013 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Boys soccer has reached the state tournament numerous times in the last decade, and the girls soccer program has reached that level, too, but the last time, lost to Jasper in the state semifinals.

Kilgore’s boys 800 meter relay won a gold medal in 2017, and several individual athletes in track, tennis and other sports have reached the state’s brightest spotlight: Zoe Craven, Cristina Rosas and girls cross-country have done so, and most recently, Cameron Jackson and Calvin Woodside in the state track meet, and the boys doubles team of Jack Tyra and Kalen Ray just a couple of weeks ago in the state tennis tournament at Texas A&M University. Jackson took third in the state in the 4A boys 100 meter dash.


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