Around The Nation: June 23

Moody and Calallen draw large crowds

In 2007, two Corpus Christi, Texas baseball powers squared off in a region championship series. Moody and Calallen High played a three-game set at Whataburger Field, home of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. The series gained national attention, not only because both teams were ranked and gunning for a state title, but also because of the number of people that witnessed the event. Over 18,000 people walked through the turnstiles and saw Moody win an epic battle and advance to the 4-A state tournament, which it eventually won.

The stars realigned in 2009 as a rematch was set between Moody and Calallen. In 2007, Calallen took the first game, in extra innings, before Moody seized the last two to advance. This year was a little different. Moody won the opening tilt and had Calallen on the ropes. But the Wildcats were able to take the second game and force a decisive third.

"In the third game we came out, backs to the wall and blew it open," Moody head coach Corky Gallegos said. "That's one tough team. Calallen could have very easily been the team to go to the state tournament."

Moody marched on with another region crown, but this was witnessed by even more. Again at Whataburger Field, the the three-game series drew over 25,000 fans, who got to see another great series.

"We wouldn't have had it any other way," Gallegos said. "A sweep wouldn't have done it justice just because the fans got to enjoy an entire series."

The win still left Moody in the hunt for a national title but the Trojans faltered in the state championship. Texarkana's Texas High squeaked out a run late in the game and held on for the win.

"They were loaded," Gallegos said. "Prospects. Lefthanded pitching. We had four losses this season. All four of them came to lefthanded pitchers. The nature of this game is cruel."

One of the prospects Gallegos referred to was Slade Heathcott, who was selected 29th overall by the Yankees. Heathcott picked up the save in the title game, pitching one inning, striking out one and walking one.

Despite losing the championship, Gallegos was still excited about what his players experienced in the series against Calallen.

"My thoughts the whole time were I could see myself doing this every day," he said. "You get a feel of what big time baseball or Division I is like. Its definitely a different atmosphere. And the players, you see a difference in the way they handle themselves in that atmosphere."