Spartans' Meador honored as 5-5A MVP
After missing a majority of district play last season with an injury, Centennial right-handed pitcher Jacob Meador made things tough for the Spartans foes in District 5-5A in his senior season.
Meador, a TCU signee, made quite an impression on the coaches of 5-5A and earned MVP honors on the all-district team.
“To have a guy like Jacob going for you through the season is a great thing,” Centennial coach Brian Tickell said. “It’s a good feeling being able to put someone like Jacob on the mound. It was exciting to watch him play this year.”
Meador took the mound eight times in district play and went 8-0 with a 0.57 ERA in 49.1 innings. The senior struck out 102 hitters and walked 10. He fanned double-digit batters in seven of eight starts. Meador allowed 16 hits and four runs.
When he wasn’t pitching, Meador played first base and added a nice bat to the Spartans lineup. He hit .351 with five runs, 13 hits. 11 RBI, two doubles and two triples.
“He was also strong swinging the bat,” Tickell said. “I hate to lose him. You are never going to be able to replace someone like Jacob Meador. He was just fantastic for us. He’s a great teammate.”
The MVP honor capped a great career for Meador who was an honorable mention player as a freshman, the District 9-5A Pitcher of Year as a sophomore and a first-team performer as a junior.
Meador wasn’t the Spartans only superlative player.
Senior shortstop Miguel Santos, a first-team player as a junior, was honored as the 5-5A Offensive Player of the Year.
“He was just a terrific hitter,” Tickell said. “His average was unreal. He could not only get on base but also drive in runs. He was able to spray the ball all over the field, he had power and was also able to lay down a bunt. He was just an unselfish player that wants his team to win.”
Santos hit a team-high .491 with 25 hits in 51 at-bats. He scored 19 runs, drove in 16 runs, had four doubles, three triples, and three homes runs.
Tickell said to go along with his bat, Santos, a McLennan Community College signee, was a tremendous shortstop.
“I have told many people that he is one of the best shortstops that I have seen in high school,” Tickell said. “He has great range and arm strength. He’s just a wonderful heads up baseball player.”
Tickell also garnered 5-5A Coach of the Year honors which he said was an honor for the team as a whole.
The Spartans had a great season going 12-2 in a district play and sharing the 5-5A title with Mansfield Legacy. Centennial won playoff series over Fort Worth North Side and Little Elm before getting swept by Lake Dallas in a Class 5A Region I quarterfinal playoff series. It was the Spartans third trip to the regionals quarterfinals. Centennial finished with a record of 25-12.
“Going through tournament season we struggled,” Tickell said. “At one point we were well below .500. It took some time for the players to understand the new system. By the time we got to district, they understood what was expected of them. It was a lot of fun watching these guys play.”
Centennial had three first-team players in senior right fielder Gabe Irwin, junior designated hitter Dawson Barnes and junior pitcher Brayden Freeman.
Irwin, a Stephen F. Austin signee, hit .347 for the Spartans with 16 runs scored, 11 RBI, two doubles and two triples.
“He’s on that field competing his tail off every game,” Tickell said. “He just competes. He did a great job at the plate and in the outfield, he was all over the place. I’m excited for him to go get to play at the next level.
Tickell said Irwin was a great clubhouse guy who wanted to win badly.
“He was a great leader and always had his teammates into the game,” Tickell said. “I’m really going to miss that kid.”
Early in the season, Tickell was searching for the right player to hit leadoff for the Spartans.
Tickell decided to move Barnes into the leadoff slot and the junior blossomed in the role.
“I think the first game he led off, he had three hits and he never relinquished that role,” Tickell said. “He had good speed and put the bat on the ball constantly. It was a little bit of an experiment when we put him there. We weren’t sure how it was going to pan out. He thrived in the leadoff spot. He got us going. If he got a hit, there was a
good chance we were going to score that inning.”
The junior hit .388 in district play with 18 runs scored, nine RBI and seven doubles.
Finding a Friday starter for district play was the biggest concern for the coaching staff.
Freeman stood out among all the candidates for the role and had a great junior year.
Freeman went 3-1 in district play with a 1.75 ERA in 32.2 innings. He gave up 15 hits, 11 runs (eight earned), struck out 41 and walked 16.
“Brayden being that number two pitcher behind Jacob Meador was huge for us,” Tickell said. “He pitched well in tournaments and kept performing that same way in district play. He just got out after out, after out for us. He threw multiple pitches over for strikes. He gave us a chance to win every time he was out there. To see him go out there and compete like that as a junior was exciting to watch.”
Centennial had one second player in senior third baseman Ethan Diaz, an Oklahoma Wesleyan signee.
The Spartans had three honorable mention players in senior catcher Hunter Prescher, a Stephen F. Austin signee, senior second baseman Seth DeLaRosa, and senior outfielders Zavier Fuller and Colby Stacy.