Houston coach Brent Hall only needed one word to describe his team’s key to success in the district tournament.


The Tigers have struggled at the plate during an up-and-down season, especially at the bottom of the lineup. Hall knows his team will need offensive production when it opens the Class 3 District 10 tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday against Liberty at Ava High School.

“If everything else would stay the same – our pitching has been good enough, our defense has been good enough and our hitting has not,” Hall said.

The Tigers, who moved up a class this year, are seeded third in the seven-team field. Houston (11-10) defeated Mansfield 6-4 Tuesday after getting swept Saturday by Licking without starters Kyle Poynter and Caleb Smith.

Hall likes his team’s chances. The Tigers beat top-seeded Ava on the road in April, and No. 2 Rogersville had the best record at the seeding meeting with an 11-6 mark.

But the Tigers have to hit.

Houston is batting just .267 as a team. The number dips even lower when you take away the top four hitters in the order.

After leadoff hitter David Weybright (.348), Chris Mooney (.333), Smith (.360) and Poynter (.491), the Tigers’ bottom five hitters are a combined 45-for-268 (.168).

Hall is bringing players in two at a time before and after school this week. He said the one-on-one sessions are not optional.

“Some of them, you don’t want to revamp them this late in the year,” Hall said. “But some of them I’m going to because our hitting is that bad. Some of us need to start from scratch and come up with a different approach.

“Any way you look at it, we’re not hitting the ball, so we’ve got to do something different.”

Pitching has been the team’s strength this season. The staff ERA is 3.31, and the Tigers have given up just 59 earned runs in 124.2 innings.

Mooney, who is 2-5 despite a 2.40 ERA, will start the opener against Liberty. If Houston advances, Poynter will square off with most likely Rogersville in Monday’s semifinals. Poynter is 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA.

The championship game is Tuesday. Hall said a combination of Eli Smith, David Foster, Weybright and maybe Mooney would all be eligible candidates to pitch.

Pitchers will be limited to 10 total innings in the tournament.

“We can go through our season stats – pitchers have done their job and pitched a lot of low-scoring ballgames, and we just haven’t hit the ball,” Hall said.

Houston split the season series with Liberty, winning the first matchup 10-0 in five innings before losing 4-3 April 16 at home.

Tuesday’s game

Houston 6, Mansfield 4

Saturday’s games

Houston 001 00 – 0 1 1

Licking 280 2x – 12 12 0

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – ESmith 3b 2-0-0-0. Mooney ss 2-0-0-0. Weybright p 1-0-1-0. Pounds c 1-0-0-0. Campbell rf 1-0-0-0. Knetzer 1b 1-0-0-0. Case cf 2-0-0-0. KaPoynter 2b 2-0-0-0. DFoster p 2-0-0-0. Barton rf 0-0-0-0. Totals 14-0-1-0.

houston ip h r er bb so

Weybright, L 1 7 9 6 2 1

DFoster 2 5 3 2 4 4

Record: Houston 10-10.

Licking 010 101 1 – 4 8 0

Houston 000 000 0 – 0 3 1

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Case cf 3-0-0-0. Mooney p 3-0-1-0. Weybright ss 3-0-2-0. ESmith 3b 3-0-0-0. Pounds c 3-0-0-0. Knetzer 1b 2-0-0-0. KaPoynter 2b 1-0-0-0. DFoster rf 1-0-0-0. TFoster 2-0-0-0. Totals 21-0-3-0.

houston ip h r er bb so

Mooney, L 7 8 4 2 2 6

Record: Houston 10-9.

Thursday’s game

Houston 312 15 – 12 7 0

Willow 100 10 – 2 3 5

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Weybright cf 4-2-2-2. Mooney 3b 2-1-1-1. CSmith c 2-3-0-0. KyPoynter ss 3-2-1-0. ESmith p 3-1-2-3. DFoster dh 4-0-0-0. Pounds 1b 2-0-0-0. Barton rf 2-1-0-1. KaPoynter 2b 2-2-1-1. Totals 24-12-7-8.

2B: ESmith. SB: Weybright 2, Barton. SF: KaPoynter.

houston ip h r er bb so

ESmith, W 5 3 2 2 2 1

HBP: CSmith, KyPoynter, ESmith.

Record: Houston 10-8.


Thursday’s game

Houston 9, Willow Springs 3

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