It had been expected that, because of the 2019 season they had, and the talent returning, that Kilgore High School’s baseball program would get a hefty dose of respect when the preseason state polls were released.

That has came to pass.

Kilgore, coached by Eugene Lafitte, is ranked second in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Class 4A state preseason poll. Only one school – defending 4A state champion Argyle – is ranked over the Diamond ‘Dogs.

Kilgore reached the University Interscholastic League’s 4A state tournament last June, played at Disch-Falk Field on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. The Bulldogs lost to Sweeny in the semifinals, and then Argyle topped Sweeny in the championship game. Kilgore finished the ’19 season with a 32-8 record, obviously a new single-season record for wins.

The Bulldogs got within a round of the state tournament the year before, in 2018, when they lost to Argyle, who has won the last two 4A state titles.

Lafitte returns a lot from last season, including pitcher Chase Hampton, headed to Texas Tech University to continue his education and baseball career, as well as players like Jayce McFarland, Donovan Adkins, Cade Pippen, Brayden Johnson, and Dalton McElyea.

The start of the season is still a month away.

Along with Argyle and Kilgore, rounding out the THSBCA’s 4A preseason top 10 is Carthage, Sinton, Benbrook, Iowa Park, Robinson, Liberty Hill, Decatur, and Rusk. Among those receiving votes but just missing on the top 10 is Kilgore District 16-4A rival Spring Hill, and Melissa, a Kilgore playoff opponent a year ago.

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