Howe 13, Leonard 1

Go to any high school sporting event and you’re going to hear one common bit of encouragement — just have fun. It’s the thought that that action leads to confidence in playing the game.

The Howe Bulldog baseball team is brimming with that confidence and a loose approach to the game that propelled them to a 13-1 win in Leonard on March 31.

“We are playing with a lot of confidence right now, having fun and playing loose, some might say too loose, but it’s worked for us so far,” Howe head coach Heath Grant said.

The Bulldogs racked up 17 hits, everyone who got in the game got a hit, and sophomore pitcher Mason Riggs worked six and two-thirds innings, scattering five hits, while striking out nine.

Howe broke open a 1-1 game, scoring twice in the third inning and kept putting up the numbers on the way to its fifth league win.

“It’s fun to pitch with a big lead, you have more confidence and you can just put your head down and do what you have to do,” Riggs said.

When asked about everybody getting hits, Riggs wanted to talk about senior Tyler Grisham’s fourth inning sacrifice bunt that led to a couple of Howe runs.

It seems like nobody wants to take credit for the improved Bulldogs offense. Grant had a ready explanation for the offensive surge.

“It’s all on coach (Josh) Rollins,” Grant said. “I turn them over to him, he’s the hitting coach, and he gets it done.”

It would be hard to single out a hitting hero from this night as seven of the 10 batters with plate appearances had two hits.

Senior leadoff hitter Brennan Ross and sophomore second baseman Bryce Krantz each had two RBI.

Senior Tanner Hartsfield and Riggs each had triples, while senior Jaden Matthews, sophomore Spencer Akins, Krantz and sophomore Dyson Dillard had doubles and Dillard had two.

Riggs took care of the pitching duties and he had a couple of pitches working for him.

“My curve and a high fastball, getting them looking up and the curve works pretty good,” Riggs said.

He had to come out in the seventh due to pitch count restrictions.

“I would have liked to see him finish because he was doing so good but it’s the rule and it’s for kids safety,” Grant said.

Riggs had the solution to preventing early exits in future games.

“We’ve got to stop walking people and staying away from 3-2 counts,”Riggs said.

Howe, tied with Farmersville at the top of the district with a 5-1 record hosted Commerce on April 4 and travels to Lone Oak on the 7.