Coach Nick Cantu finds it easy to explain the connection between good grades in the classroom and solid performance on the baseball diamond. The Edinburg North coach said that having smart kids in his program has given him a number of “coaches on the field” for the Cougars the past few years.

The program has made three straight playoff appearances thanks in large part to a trio of players who were recently named the Academic All-State baseball team by the Texas Association of Baseball Coaches. The double-play combo of Chris Cavazos and Chris DeLuna, along with pitcher-DH Rick Fuerte, gained the honor last week, and their long-time mentor praised the group for the accolade.

“Of course, it helps to have smart kids out there,” said Cantu, who sent Cavazos and Fuerte to the Senior All-Star Showcase in Sharyland Friday. Teammates J.D. Escobar and hard-hitting first baseman also represented the Coogs in the game. “It makes it easier for the staff because we know those guys understand what it takes to win. They always did things right.”

North says good-bye to six senior starters off the second-place winner from 31-5A, with all the academic stars headed to big-time schools. The slick-fielding DeLuna will attend Baylor while Fuerte will land in Austin at UT and Cavazos is bound for Texas A&M in College Station.

But Cantu welcomes back a good nucleus to build around, including All-Valley Newcomer of the Year Andrew Arteaga, last year’s Newcomer Noel Cruz, and speedy outfielder Joel De los Santos, among others. Look for Nicholas Escobar, J.D.’s younger brother, to step onto the mound as a junior now that the elder Escobar and Fuerte have moved on.

“I guess I will have to get back to coaching around here,” joked Cantu, noting that his senior-laden club has been together for the better part of the three seasons.

At the All-Star Game in Sharyland, EHS Bobcat stars Bubba Anthony, Austin Casas, and Michael Kaz were on the roster. Those three led the ‘Cats into the playoffs with an excellent run, after most preseason predictions had the graduation-gutted club destined for the middle of the pack, at best.

NOTES: Saturday marked the softball all-star game, also played at Sharyland. Samantha Cruz represented EHS while North sent Jennifer Kotzur and Anyssa Avila.