Chad Ricker had one of the worst summer baseball campaigns of his career prior to his senior season at Argyle.
Fortunately for the Eagles, it didn’t take long for him to get back on track by the time high school baseball season rolled around.
Ricker cemented himself as the team’s ace and had another productive season at the plate to lead Argyle to its second consecutive state championship and a 40-1-1 record.
“I didn’t preform like I could have over the summer, but I kind of turned it around,” Ricker said. “There’s something about high school baseball — you have a goal in mind. In the summer, the guys who are already committed [to colleges] don’t take it too seriously and the guys who aren’t are stressing.
“It’s a different vibe, and I kind of like high school more. It’s a team-oriented game.”
Ricker was dominant in the regular season, but he took things to a different level during Argyle’s playoff run. The senior tossed 21 1/3 consecutive hitless innings as the Eagles cruised through the postseason, and Ricker tossed a five-inning shutout against La Vernia in the state semifinals to get his team back to the title game.
Ricker finished the year 12-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. He allowed just 36 hits and eight earned runs while also posting a .333 batting average with 37 RBIs, 24 runs and a 1.064 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
His performance in District 8-4A play resulted in offensive player of the year honors, and Ricker went on to be named a Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association first-team all-state selection.
Ricker is the fifth straight Argyle player to be MVP of the Denton Record Chronicle’s All-Area Baseball Team, joining Connor Mushinski, Tanner Boyzuick and Rixey Boyd.
“It’s pretty cool to carry on that tradition,” Ricker said. “I’ve kind of noticed the last few years it’s been the 4-hole hitter and the ace of the pitching staff. It’s cool to just keep that going.”
In Ricker’s three years as a starter, the Eagles won more than 94% of their games, going 102-4-2. While last year’s undefeated state championship was special, Ricker said his senior year — capped by a second straight title — was even more memorable.
“Winning state in general is pretty special,” Ricker said. “Last year was cool — going undefeated, national champions, all of that. But this year has probably been a little bit more special to me because it was my last time on the field with the guys.”
Ricker had his plans for college lined up after committing to Texas-San Antonio in November, but the Roadrunners didn’t offer him a scholarship for next season, instead asking him to earn one with a strong freshman campaign. Ricker was essentially a preferred walk-on, and decommitted from the program after receiving scholarship interest from other schools late in the season.
Now his suitors include a handful of Division I schools and just about every junior college team in the state. Ricker is expected to make a decision in the coming days.
“I had such a good year that it kind of opened up some options for me,” Ricker said. “It’s a little weird not having it lined up right now, but hopefully I can make that decision pretty quickly.”
Classic of Denton All-Area Baseball Team
MVP — Chad Ricker (Argyle, P/1B, Sr.)
Ricker has done whatever it takes to get on the field for Argyle over the last three years. He played catcher and third base as a sophomore before playing first base and pitching as a junior. With last year’s DRC MVP Bryson Hudgens off to Weatherford College, Ricker emerged as the Eagles’ ace early this season. He was 12-0 with a 0.88 ERA and had 96 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. At the plate, he hit .33 with 37 RBIs and a 1.064 OPS. Ricker was a first-team all-state selection and the Offensive Player of the Year in District 8-4A. After decommitting from UTSA, he has yet to make a final decision as to where he’ll play next year.
Co-Offensive Player of the Year — Ryan Hull (Lake Dallas, SS, Sr.)
Lake Dallas put together a Cinderella run through the 5A playoffs, and Hull was vital to the team’s success. The senior was the Offensive Player of the Year in District 8-5A and hit .389 with 20 RBIs and 36 runs.
Co-Offensive Player of the Year — Preston King (Argyle, 2B, Sr.)
King was a key part of Argyle’s success and there’s no denying the importance of his role over the last few years. The Texas-Rio Grande Valley signee was as consistent as they come in the lead-off spot, batting .385 with 26 RBIs, 51 runs, 31 walks and a 1.11 OPS. He was the District 8-4A MVP.
Defensive Player of the Year — Austin King (Argyle, C, Sr.)
King secured his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award at the district level, helping Argyle cruise to its second consecutive state championship. The UTRGV signee hit .314 with 23 RBIs, and he posted an impressive .995 fielding percentage behind the plate.
Pitcher of the Year — Joe Wolf (Liberty Christian, P, Sr.)
Liberty Christian has had a handful of big-name pitchers on its roster over the years, but few have provided the consistency Wolf has in his time with the Warriors. As a senior, Wolf was 7-1 with a 1.31 ERA. He had 97 strikeouts in 75 innings and also hit .329 with 18 RBIs and 11 runs.
Utility Player of the Year — Rece Parker (Denton, SS/P, Sr.)
Parker did a little bit of everything for Denton to help guide the program to a second straight district title. The senior was the District 8-5A Defensive Player of the Year and hit .361 with 22 RBIs while recording nine saves with a 1.88 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
Newcomer of the Year — Nic Bennett (Braswell, 1B, So.)
Bennett was in his first season with the Bengals but he finished with the highest batting average of any player in the Denton area. Bennett hit .420 with 22 RBIs and 14 runs to secure Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors in District 8-5A.
Coach of the Year — Ryan Howard (Lake Dallas)
Lake Dallas was 11-15 with three games to go in the regular season, but the Falcons (22-19) righted the ship and advanced all the way to the 5A Region I semifinals.
First Team All-Area
Dillon Carter (Argyle, CF/P, Sr.) — Carter, a Texas Tech signee, hit .400 with 23 RBIs, 57 runs and a 1.18 OPS. He went 3-0 with five saves and a 0.43 ERA, and earned first-team all-state honors.
Ryan Depperschmidt (Lake Dallas, P/CF, Sr.) — Depperschmidt anchored the Lake Dallas pitching staff and was the pitcher of the year in District 8-5A. The senior went 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 76 strikeouts.
Jordan Beminio (Guyer, 1B, Sr.) — Beminio was a third-team all-state selection and helped the Wildcats return to the postseason in Class 6A. He hit .385 with 25 RBIs and a 1.002 OPS as a senior.
Hayden Clearman (Argyle, RF, Sr.) — Clearman, who will play at Abilene Christian, had another productive year both at the plate and in the outfield. The senior hit .366 with 45 RBIs and scored 40 runs.
Brenden Dixon (Argyle, SS, Sr.) — Dixon moved to the No. 3 spot in the lineup and led Argyle in RBIs (48) and hit .353. He was a second-team all-state selection and will play at Texas next year.
Christian Herry (Denton, RF, Sr.) — Herry was one of three area players to earn MVP honors at the district level. He hit .325 with 11 RBIs to help lead Denton to its second straight district title.
Jaxon Holder (Aubrey, SS, So.) — Holder secured the middle of the infield at shortstop and was a big weapon at the plate. He hit .404 with 27 RBIs, and was the District 11-4A Co-Defensive MVP.
Cade Hamilton (Sanger, C, Sr.) — Hamilton was the District 11-4A MVP and earned third-team all-state honors. The senior captain hit .387 with 22 RBIs, 19 extra-base hits and a 1.207 OPS.
Sean Bolin (Argyle, P, Sr.) — Bolin had another stellar year that featured a dominant run through the postseason. The Utah signee finished 9-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 45 strikeouts as a senior.
Alex Gonzlaes (Argyle, LF, Jr.) — Gonzales, a Baylor commit, was a nightmare for opponents near the bottom of Argyle’s lineup. He hit .348 with 33 RBIs and scored 32 runs.
Connor Bivins (Ryan, P, So.) — Bivins was key in Ryan’s ability to sneak into the playoffs. The sophomore was 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA to earn Co-Newcomer of the Year honors in District 8-5A.
Jacob Hasty (Liberty Christian, P, Sr.) — Hasty, an LSU signee, helped the Warriors reign as back-to-back TAPPS Division I state champions. He went 6-3 with a 1.82 ERA and also hit .372 with 15 RBIs.
Cole Lee (Krum, SS/P, Sr.) — Lee was the senior leader on a Krum team that competed in a district with both Argyle and Decatur. He hit .338 with 11 RBIs and had a 3.92 ERA in 25 innings.
Second Team All-Area
Creighton Hansen (Liberty Christian, 1B/P, Sr.) — .327 BA, 15 RBIs, 20 runs, 10 doubles
Tate Van Poppel (Argyle, P/1B, Jr.) — 8-0, 45 2/3 IP, 1.77 ERA, 51 strikeouts
Cade Merka (Argyle, 3B, Jr.) — .279 BA, 21 RBIs, 19 runs
Kyle York (Lake Dallas, C, Sr.) — .319 BA, 19 RBIs, 14 runs
Connor Perry (Lake Dallas, 1B, Jr.) — .322 BA, 32 RBIs, 17 runs
Bristol Carson (Guyer, P, Sr.) — 64 IP, 5-3, 2.18 ERA; .313 BA, 10 RBIs
Luke Piper (Guyer, C, Jr.) — .340 BA, 16 RBIs, 10 runs
Justin Rumfield (Denton, 3B/C, So.) — .319 BA, 23 RBIs, 10 runs
Jan Cabrera (Denton, P/3B, Sr.) — 4-0, 28 IP, 1.00 ERA; .420 BA, 11 RBIs
Zak Taylor (Aubrey, P, So.) — 61 1/3 IP, 9-2, 2.85 ERA, 71 strikeouts
Hagen Coin (Sanger, SS, Sr.) — .410 BA, 1.010 OPS, 13 RBIs, 21 SB
Brett Huff (Liberty Christian, 3B, Sr.) — .389 BA, 18 RBIs, 13 runs
Brooks Garrett (Krum, P/1B, Sr.) — .345 BA, 12 RBIs; 1-1, 1.44 ERA, 51 strikeouts