79° F Thursday, June 22, 2017

Frame by frame, the memories still remain from a season ago.

Only two starters return to the Lake Travis baseball team after the Cavs’ run to the state semifinals a season ago, and both of those seniors – lefty pitcher Daniel Castano and first/third baseman Baker Mayfield – are ready to replace the old images with new mementos.

Mayfield had a near-momentous shot during the state semifinals, a long fly ball that looked to be a game-winning home run before it inched foul at the last minute, a hit that could have given the Cavs a state championship berth and ended a 7-7 tie.

Castano came on in relief when the Cavs trailed and was in the game as the Cavs took a 7-6 lead, but they eventually lost the game 9-7 in eight innings as the then-junior got the ‘L.’

Armed with a slew of new players this season, and a new class to boot as the team moves up to Class 5A, the duo expects Lake Travis to continue its legacy of winning and take the extra step into the title game.

“We kind of put it on ourselves to lead this team and make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” Castano said. “We try not to talk about it because it hurts, but I think about it almost every day. I won the last game at Boerne Champion [to make the semifinals] and got the last loss, too [in the semifinals].”

Mayfield gained some 5A experience at the helm of the Cavs football team in the fall, and he might have another new role this year as he transitions to third base after playing first most of last year.

The image of the hooking foul ball remains, but Mayfield and the team are ready to supplant last year’s historic run with an even better one this season.

“We know what our role is and we have to be the leaders – it’s a lot of responsibility but we know how to handle it,” Mayfield said. “[I remember it] all the time. We say it all the time that we don’t want to end up in the semifinals; we want to end up in the finals and win it all.”

Though replacing eight of nine starters in the lineup, two starting pitchers and their ace reliever, the Cavaliers are still confident despite a slow start this season. Last year they started out 4-6 before a 7-1 streak to put them on track and on the way to a district title.

“We have the same expectations and we have the chance to be better,” Mayfield said. “We have depth and hope we can rely on that in the season. We’ve got some guys that are nervous out there. I don’t blame them.They’re young. It’s tough to come out and play for Lake Travis because we’ve been good in the past. They just need to relax, and we’ll be fine.”

Castano, who could have moved to Florida as his family moved last year but chose to stay in Lake Travis with his grandparents for his senior season, said he gleaned a lot from now-graduated lefties Philip Orr and Derek Stevens.

“We know what it took to win and are trying to carry that over to this team and have some of the same things,” Castano said. “But also new things because there’s new players and different talent … I plan to do it this year and do what Philip did and get us to the playoffs and the state round and just get win after win.”

While last year’s team had essential parts together for some time, this year’s team is still trying to find its footing.

That’s been tougher than expected in part because of the elevated level of play in 5A, Mayfield said.

“Baseball is a lot harder than football for [moving up to] 5A, there’s a lot more depth,” he said. “You’ll see teams that have two, three good pitchers instead of just one at 4A, so it’s tough at times.”

During the Langerhans Invitational over the weekend, Lake Travis learned it still has a little ways to go to get back to the level the Cavaliers are accustomed to playing at.

Tuesday night, Lake Travis lost a nail-biter 1-0 to Austin High in the District 15-5A opener as Castano held his own but the bats didn’t come around.

Going up against several possible bidistrict foes come playoff time, Lake Travis (4-11) lost to McNeil, Round Rock, Westwood and Hendrickson but did pick up a win over soon-to-be district foe Anderson. The Cavs also dropped a game to Hyde Park Baptist.

In a sterling pitching matchup Feb. 28, Baylor-bound Castano squared off with Westwood’s JR Holloway, who is going to pitch at Duke after graduation. Westwood got an early run and added two more in the third as Holloway kept the Cavs from creating enough offensively in a 3-1 Warriors’ win.

“We’re a very new team but we have a lot of talent,” Castano said. “I’m really excited; I think we can make a run this year and do what we did last year but hopefully win that game and get to the state championship actually. The pitching staff looks great. We have some little pieces we need to put together, but we can do it. We just have some work to do; we’re young.”

Later that night, Hyde Park Baptist put up double-digit runs in a 13-7 win.

Lake Travis dropped its first game Friday to Hendrickson 6-0 but came back to beat Anderson 3-0 later that day.

Connor Mayes picked up the win on the mound for Lake Travis, allowing just one hit in a 3-0 victory.

On Saturday, the Cavs narrowly lost to McNeil, 4-3, as the Mavericks scored three times in the seventh to complete the comeback from an earlier 3-0 deficit.

In the final game of the tournament, Round Rock jumped all over Lake Travis with two in the first and six in the second in an eventual 8-4 win.

The tournament leaves Lake Travis short of its goal to be .500 after tournament play, but has six more tourney games this weekend during the AISD Tournament.

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