After losing many players and a couple of assistant coaches, nobody could be sure what the 2007 baseball season would bring for the Cleburne Yellow Jackets.

“Every year, people graduate from high school. It’s just a fact,” Cleburne head baseball coach Ross Taylor said. “We just had to make the decision to go on.”

And go on they did.

The Yellow Jackets finished with an overall record of 28-9 and reached the area finals before bowing out in a three-game series to Denton Ryan.

“These kids set several goals, one of which was to win 25 games,” Taylor said. “We won 28. And had it not been for an unfortunate injury late in the year, we could very well still be playing and winning a few more.”

The Jackets opened the season by winning 14 of its first 18 games, entering the District 8-4A campaign with a mark of 14-4.

Cleburne dropped a pair of games during the first half of district play, losing by a run to Aledo and on the road at Joshua after the game had to be restarted due to stormy weather the previous day.

The second half of league play saw Cleburne’s lone loss come to Crowley, while a comeback win over Aledo at home helped the Jackets build some momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Jackets opened the postseason with a sweep of South Hills, which included a no-hitter by freshman lefty Ty Taylor.

Cleburne moved on to the area finals and a series against Denton Ryan. Taylor was again stellar, leading the Jackets to a victory.

However, Cleburne lost senior Casey Walls to an elbow injury that may require Tommy John surgery later on.

Cleburne dropped the next two games of the series.

After the conclusion of the season, Ross Taylor and the coaching staff sat down with each player in a conference atmosphere.

“The seniors said we were better than they thought they would be,” Taylor said. “These guys proved to be very resilient and really matured this season.”

Taylor called each player up individually, talking a little bit about each one.

He announced their stats and what they provided to the team, both on the field and in the dugout.

“These are a great group of guys and classy young men,” Taylor said. “They work very hard and take a lot of pride in what they do.”

Walls, who batted .402 with a team-leading 41 hits and 38 RBIs, was named the Most Valuable Player by his teammates. Walls, a three-time all-district performer at three different positions, also went 7-1 on the mound, striking out 116 in a little over 50 innings of work.

The Triple D Award, which is for dedication, discipline and desire, went to junior Frankie Valdez and senior Chase Dawson.

Taylor also announced a new award named for Kenneth Tice, arguably Cleburne’s most faithful supporter.

The Kenneth Tice Love of the Game Award went to junior catcher Colby Braddock and senior John Brunner.

At the freshman level, Jose Martinez was named the MVP, while Austin Valis picked up the Triple D Award.

The junior varsity team had no MVP due to many players bouncing back and forth between the three squads.

However, Conner Marshall did earn the Triple D Award for the junior varsity squad.

Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or

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