Scots Look to Hit the Ground Running

Highland Park will open the 2014 baseball season today at a tournament in Leander.
Highland Park will open the 2014 baseball season today at a tournament in Leander. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

The biggest change at Scotland Yard this season might be in the dugout, instead of on the field.

Travis Yoder has taken over as head baseball coach at Highland Park with the mindset that while he doesn’t want to mess with success, he does want to add some of his own wrinkles to the program.

Yoder takes over from Fred Oliver, who retired after last season. Oliver won 101 games in four seasons with the Scots, capping a 28-year career as a head coach at the high school level.

His successor has head coaching experience as well, including a five-year stint at Adamson before becoming an assistant coach under Oliver in 2006. He said he wants to bring an aggressive mindset to HP’s approach, both in terms of hitting and base running.

“We’re going to do different things to put pressure on defenses,” Yoder said. “I’m trying to bring the idea of attacking everywhere we can.”

The Scots finished 19-15 last season and shared the District 10-4A title with Forney. However, HP lost to Prosper in a three-game series in the bi-district round of the playoffs, which still lingers with some of the returning players and coaches.

“We’ve moved on and learned from our mistakes,” said senior Matthew Lillard. “We want to make it deep into the playoffs this year.”

HP opens the regular season today against Class 5A powerhouse Southlake Carroll in the Rock Hardball Classic in Leander. Also in the three-day event, HP will face Leander, Belton, Round Rock McNeil, and Brenham.

The Scots will co-host the Scotland Yard Classic on March 6-7 as part of its typically difficult nondistrict schedule. The Scots also will play Keller on March 8 at Globe Life Park in Arlington before opening district play on March 11 at Forney.

The Scots lost several seniors from last year’s team to graduation, but still have five starters back. Yoder expects major contributions from shortstop Jon Skidmore, third baseman Cooper Chaltas, and outfielder Brett Matthews near the top of the lineup. On the mound, returnee Ryan Buss is joined by Layne Looney, Kyle Robertson, and Brandt Gros.

“I think the kids are enjoying being out here and they’re coming together. They’re buying into the team concept,” Yoder said. “We’re trying to continue the winning tradition that’s already in place.”

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