The Flower Mound Jaguars experienced the full range of emotions in the 24 hours that began on Thursday, March 12. The Jaguars defeated Southlake Carroll 8-6 on Southlake’s own field, giving them just their second loss of the season as they are ranked the top 6A team in the state.
As news and rumors about the immediate future of high school baseball began to enter the minds of the young athletes, some, including Houston Cougars signee Patrick Dunn, actually pondered about the next game that Thursday, “This could be our last game in high school baseball.”
Flower Mound lost 3-2 on a walk-off to McKinney Boyd, ranked fifth in the state, one spot ahead of the Jaguars, both with the same record of 10-3-1.
Reflecting on the day, and especially on the loss to McKinney Boyd, Dunn said of his team, “We weren’t really too worried about that, we just worried if that was our last game or not.” He continued that he, “wanted to go out there with the team one more time.”
Then came Friday the 13th.
“That Friday, we go into the team room and we find out that our season is postponed until the beginning of April or so,” Patrick said. It is the same story that paused and potentially ended every high school baseball season in the state and most of the country.
Patrick Dunn is a senior at Flower Mound. The right-handed pitcher stands 6-foot-6 and is lean with room to grow as he gets ready to join the Houston Cougars. Before his senior year was halted, Dunn had pitched 15 innings in five games with 19 strikeouts.
Dunn discussed his 2020 effort thus far, “I was really happy with the season, I had progressed a lot not just on the physical side but on the mental side too, I had a lot of confidence out there and I just had a better mindset, thinking I was the best player to be out there at that time.” It is one thing to be six and a half feet tall and to be able to throw a baseball with some speed and movement. It is another thing to be out there and be confident in your ability against some of the toughest competition in 6A Texas baseball.
With competitive activity on hold, Dunn, like most players, is having to find ways to stay active and stay sharp, pretty much on their own time and in their own way. Dunn’s routine is full, “I’m doing bodyweight exercises to maintain where I’m at strength wise, and then I do some heavy ball work,” against what he calls the “perfect brick wall” at his home. A hitter can swing a bat almost anywhere with a certain radius clear, but a pitcher might have to improvise, and Patrick has done that, “I have a net in the garage that I can throw into.”
Flower Mound head coach Danny Wallace is extremely complimentary of Dunn’s intangibles, “He is a great leader on and off the field. His work ethic is outstanding and he has a passion to be great.”
Patrick is big on “team” and it is obvious in talking with him that he values the guys in the dugout. Discussing the 2020 Jaguars Dunn said, “We were a lot hungrier than last year because we made it so far and didn’t end up getting to the state tournament, but we all knew we could have done it, so this year we were really trying to prove a point and show that we were definitely one of the best teams, if not the best team in the state.” It is obvious that Dunn wants the 2020 season to resume at some point so he can “go out there with the team one more time.”
If the high school season never gets started again, Patrick, in accordance with the rules of the day, will hopefully get some games in with the summer team he plays on. If that does not happen, he plans to keep working until he reports to the University of Houston in either mid to late summer. His plan, he says, includes wanting to “pitch live at-bats to people I know so that I can just keep getting my work in.” Any takers?
Last summer, Patrick’s summer team played in one of the nation’s biggest baseball tournaments in Atlanta, Georgia. His team made it to the last day of action, and it so happened that Houston coaches were on hand to see “one of the best games I ever pitched,” according to Dunn. He had spoken to Houston coaches weeks before and with his outstanding performance in an unlikely game in front of the Houston coaches, he concluded, “Honestly, I feel like it was kind of meant to be.” He committed to the University of Houston before he left Atlanta.
“He has worked very hard to get to where he is and his better days are all ahead of him – he has a lot of upside,” Coach Wallace said of Dunn. “He throws a really heavy downhill fastball and the breaking ball is improving and will be a plus pitch as he gets comfortable with it. The velocity has continued to climb and he will be consistently in the 90s at UH.”
As a kid, attending Texas Rangers games, Patrick was impressed with how big the ballplayers were, how hard they threw the ball, and how far they hit the ball. Beyond those impressions though, baseball was a “bond” with his best friends, they all played together from first grade into high school, they all love the game. Patrick Dunn will have the chance to play at the next level now, and he will be in the mix for time on the mound when the 2021 Houston Cougars take the field. –