Kelly Mead has been coaching baseball at Kingwood for 14 years. He has never had a situation like this year.
This year's team has zero returning varsity starters.
Assistant coach Miguel Carlos thought the beginning of the season would be rough for this very new team, but he has been surprised by the team's early success. After the scrimmages to start the season, in which the team showed their youth and inexperience, the Mustangs won 11 of their 13 games heading into district play.
Senior Evan Loyka said he is not particularly nervous being a first year starter but rather views each game as an opportunity to have fun.
He doesn't see the team's absence of returning starters as a big deal. He has been playing baseball with these same teammates since he was young, some since he started playing baseball at age 4.
"It's not really for me about the returning starters for me; it's more about the team bond that we have. I think what we have here is pretty incredible," Loyka said.
Mead agreed team chemistry is an essential ingredient for success.
"The team chemistry on the field, outside of the field, in the locker room, on the bus, all of it is really good right now," he said, noting the team's early success has strengthened the bond between the players even more.
Mead said, in addition to the lack of experience, this is the youngest team he has ever had and it might be the youngest team Kingwood has ever had, but the younger players have been stepping up and that is a big reason for the team's success.
"Our young players have a lot baseball savvy. They have a lot of baseball knowledge, so the younger kids, our freshmen and sophomores, are playing above their age," he said.
Carlos said he believes that a spectator who was not familiar with the team would not be able to tell which players are freshmen and sophomores and which are juniors and seniors.
One of the freshmen on the team is Masyn Winn, who has become the team's No. 1 pitcher.
Wynn admitted to being extremely nervous before his first start.
"I thought I was going to go out there and just get raked off of," he said. He did well, winning his first start and now feels much more comfortable on the mound.
As the Mustangs now head into the district schedule, Carlos thinks one of the keys to the team having continued success is the players remaining level-headed.
"All the wins are great to a point, but, once district starts, everybody's 0-0," he said.
Mead said he saw the first regular season game, a home game against Milby, as a turning point. The Mustangs got out to an early 3-0 lead, but Milby scored some late runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh. Kingwood strung together a couple hits in the bottom of the seventh inning and won the game on a walk-off double.
"I think at that moment, when we got that walk-off win, we clicked," Mead said.
Mead used two pinch runners in the bottom of the seventh of that game, both sophomores.