High school baseball and softball are just around the corner – in fact, the programs at Kilgore High School are already playing scrimmages.

Like all spring sports that began in March 2020, KHS diamond sports didn’t get to finish last year – nor did anyone else – thanks to COVID-19. The Bulldogs, coached by Eugene Lafitte, were hoping for a return to the UIL Class 4A state tournament at Austin, and the Lady Bulldogs, coached by Cheyenne Kirkpatrick, were planning for another playoff season, and maybe not just getting there.

Those hopes were dashed when school and extracurricular activities were halted, with most schools across the U.S. going to a remote learning format. Any plans of district championships, playoff berths, playoff games or anything else ended, and sadly, seniors last year were left without a real conclusion of their athletic high school careers.

Things are resuming, finally. Kilgore’s baseball team, with Lafitte back for another season, played a pair of scrimmages over the weekend and Monday, and the Lady Bulldogs were to play one on Tuesday night, after the print deadline for this edition of the News Herald.

Kilgore baseball: The Bulldogs played scrimmages at Malakoff on Saturday, then at home against Athens on Monday, the first of quite a few before the Diamond ‘Dogs officially start the season on Monday, Feb. 22, against Sabine.

The ‘Dogs have an alumni game scheduled here at Driller Park on Saturday, but icy weather may force a postponement at best. See kilgorenewsherald.com this week for a decision on that.

Some highlights from those scrimmages against Malakoff and Athens:

  • Donovan Adkins, who recently signed a national letter of intent for football at Sam Houston State University, had three hits (including a triple) and two walks.
  • Cade Pippen had four hits, two singles, a bunt for a hit, and a triple with 2 RBI.
  • Dalton McElyea had two hits, including a double, with an RBI.
  • Hunter Pipak had two hits, one of them a double, with 3 RBI.
  • Kyle Wheeler, Bryce Long, and Zach Porter each had a hit.
  • So far on the mound, Pippen and McElyea each have thrown three innings, as has Heath LaFleur. Adkins, Wyatt Wilkerson and Lewis have each thrown two, and Bryce Long, one.

Next week, Kilgore scrimmages Longview, with varsity here at 5 p.m. and the junior varsity teams both at Longview, starting at 4. Next Friday, Kilgore’s varsity hosts Pine Tree in a scrimmage, starting here at Driller Park at 5 p.m., with the JV teams at Pine Tree, also starting at 5.

That season opener against Sabine is here at Driller on Monday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. (JV) and then 6:30 (varsity).

Looking ahead to next month, the Bulldogs are once again hosting the Oil Belt Classic tournament, a great tradition at Driller Park that dates back many decades.

They’ll welcome Sabine, Palestine, Central Heights, Harmony, Pine Tree and New Diana for the event, which begins Thursday, March 4 and continues through Saturday, March 6.

Kilgore softball: Kilgore softball also played a pair of scrimmages over the weekend, and Kirkpatrick said their alumni game, which also had been scheduled for this coming Saturday, will have to be played another time, due to the likely bad weather. It appears the alumni game has been re-scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, also at Stream-Flo at 6 p.m.

The Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to open their 2021 season at home against Nacogdoches, on a night where first responders will be honored, this coming Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 4:30 p.m., starting with the JV game. Kilgore High School softball plays its home games at Stream-Flo Field, right beside Driller Park on Commerce Street.

They’ll play in a tournament at Union Grove Feb. 18-20, and then play at Longview Feb. 23.

Kirkpatrick graded last weekend’s scrimmages in a text to News Herald sports editor Mitch Lucas on Monday.

“Pitching needs work,” wrote the KHS and Southern Arkansas University alumni. “But aside from that, it wasn’t bad.”

Last year, as mentioned, didn’t get a conclusion, but the Lady ‘Dogs made the playoffs the previous two seasons before that.

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