HENDERSON — Carlisle’s Gunner Baker prefers to lead his team, evidenced by the positions he plays in football and baseball — quarterback and pitcher.
The junior excels in the roles, too.
“It’s a big responsibility,” he said Wednesday at his family’s home in Henderson. “You have to stay really focused.”
Last fall, Baker finished with more than 3,000 yards in total offense to help guide Carlisle on a deep playoff run. And this spring, he’s perfect on the mound after pitching the Indians to the regional finals last season.
In football, Baker rushed for 1,541 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 1,137 yards and 14 more scores as a junior. The Indians went 11-1 and reached the Class 1A Division I regional playoffs.
“It was exciting,” Baker said. “It was my most exciting season so far. I felt like we took control.”
Said his dad, Carlisle head football coach and athletic director Rocky Baker: “It’s different aspects as a coach and a father. I don’t really get to enjoy it or see what he’s actually done until the season is over.
“When the game’s going on, he’s just another one of the players trying to accomplish the goal that we’re trying to get.”
Prior to the start of baseball season, Baker was named First-Team All-America by Louisville Slugger (multi-position player) after being picked honorable mention as a sophomore.
The selection was a pleasant surprise, coach Baker said.
“First of all we are a small school that doesn’t get enough respect as it should,” he said. “I’ve coached at all levels and coached 10 kids who play pro ball, and there’s some good kids at all levels.”
This season, Baker is 5-0 with an 0.30 ERA with 36 strikeouts and seven hits allowed in 23 2-3 innings of work, plus is batting .500 with 14 RBIs, 13 runs, four triples and three doubles.
Carlisle is 7-2 on the year and travels to Union Hill on Friday.
“Mainly growing up we just did baseball; I didn’t really play football that much,” Baker said. “Baseball was all we did. We had a batting cage in our backyard and every day we would go hit. Ever since I was born I’ve been at the baseball fields watching my brothers or playing.”
Elkhart Rolling Through Season
Elkhart, which began the season ranked No. 10 in Class 2A by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association, has been tearing through the schedule so far.
The Elks will carry 15-1 overall and 2-0 in District 21-2A records into next Tuesday’s game at Frankston.
Cam Reeves hurled a no-hitter in Tuesday night’s 11-0 win against Arp, which went only five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“He just pitched a really good game,” Elkhart coach John Adair said after the game. “He gave up a couple walks, which he was upset about, but we also had real good defense behind him when they did put the ball in play.”
So far, Elkhart’s only loss has been to Centerville, a 1-0 defeat.
Coaches Urged to Call in Stats
Area baseball and softball coaches are asked to send in statistics to run in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Fridays, beginning next week.
Please include in the stats batting average, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.
In the pitching category, include wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, earned run average and saves.
The deadline to send in stats is 4 p.m. Thursday.
Stats can be called in, faxed or e-mailed.
The sports department’s phone main number is 903-596-6292, its fax number is 903-595-0335 and its e-mail address is sports@tylerpaper. com.
Area Softball Teams Ranked
Multiple area teams are in the most recent Texas Girls Coaches Association Softball Poll, released March 8.
In 3A, Lufkin Hudson is ninth, Henderson is 10th and Lindale and Rusk are tied for 20th.
In 2A, Nacogdoches Central Heights is fifth and Mineola is sixth.
Hallsville is 11th in 4A, while Grapeland is second and Alto is 17th in 1A.