The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Sports

June 21, 2013

H.S. Baseball: 2013 Dogwood Circle Baseball Teams

BETHEL — In his first three seasons on the diamond for Cayuga, Chantz Holland was a reliable, solid player.

He always occupied a second or third spot in the pitching rotation, played a solid infield and was serviceable at the plate.

In 2013, things had to change. No longer would he be a No. 2 or No. 3, he was a No. 1. No longer were there the big bats which had surrounded him in the lineup his first three seasons.

How did Holland respond? He’d be just fine, thanks.

All the Vernon College-bound Holland did in 2013 was lead Cayuga to the regional quarterfinals, going 13-3 on the mound with a minuscule 0.83 Earned Run Average. He struck out 137 in 72 innings (1.9 Ks/inning) and walked only 13.

At the plate, he was just as strong. Holland hit .519 on the year, drove in 32 runs and stole 25 bases.

“He really became the leader of this team early in the season,” CHS coach Greg Branch said. “He was a guy we could always count on to get you deep into the ballgame.

“But what impressed me the most was how he turned his season around at the plate.”

For his play, Holland has been named the Dogwood Circle baseball Player of the Year for 2013.

The most spectacular thing about Holland’s rise in 2013 didn’t actually come on the field, per se.

He’d always been a very good ball player, one who kept his head down and did his job.

But, until 2013, there’d always been someone else there to lead the Wildcats, whether that be Gunner Thompson or Jake Nash or Jimmy Johnson.

In 2013, there was Holland, and he responded to the challenge put forth to him by Branch, his teammates and, most importantly, himself.

“It was just my responsibility,” Holland said. “There was no added pressure at all.”

Added Branch, “He never really shows a ton of emotion, he just goes about his business every single day. That’s the approach he took this year...but you could tell at times he put this team on his shoulders.”

The 2013 Cayuga team wasn’t Branch’s most talented in the last three or four years, but they advanced to the regional quarterfinals on will more than talent, and despite issues surrounding the program.

A lot of that will was helped put in place by Holland, who took on his leadership role like he did everything else, with a quiet persistence.

“I just said we had to focus on baseball,” Holland said. “Forget all the drama, forget all the injuries. Baseball isn’t a one-person sport, it’s a team sport.”

Now, Holland is headed to North Texas to rejoin Nash and Johnson on the diamond, this time at Vernon College.

The former Wildcat is expected to make a quick impact on the mound for the Chaparrals.

“After the loss (to Harleton), I was sad but at least I had something to look forward to,” he said. “That was a big plus.”

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