18th annual cookoff brings fun for kids
The annual South Belt Spectacular Cookoff will take place Thursday, May 1, through Saturday, May 3, at El Franco Lee Park, located at 9400 Hall Road.
While the event is primarily geared toward adults, organizers are placing a strong emphasis this year on Saturday being a family day, with several activities planned for children at no cost.
Free children’s activities include moonwalks, rock climbing, pony rides, Gabby the Clown, a bopping head video booth, a petting zoo, a train, face painting, hair braiding and extensions, a police cruiser and ambulance display and photos with a live Watusi bull named Oliver.
Children 12 and under will be admitted free during the day Saturday with the purchase of one adult admission. Admission will be $5 until 6 p.m. and $10 after 6 p.m.
While no outside alcohol will be allowed for patrons, it will be for sale on the cookoff grounds. Barbecue sandwiches, sausage on stick, chili, cotton candy and snow cones will also be available.
Now in its 18th year, the cookoff is the sole fundraiser for the South Belt Fourth of July fireworks display, also to be held at the area park.
Free shuttle service will be available from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. inside the park and from Dobie.
All motorists, including Dobie students, should be aware that no parking will be allowed along Hall Road May 1 through May 3 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Violators will be towed at owner’s expense.
The mental toughness, clutch pitching and tight defense that has forged the Dobie varsity baseball program this far has to continue. There’s no turning back now.
Coming off a 15-1 win over last-place Sam Rayburn April 20 at Maguire Field, the Longhorns will face state-ranked Pearland Friday, April 25, at Dobie High School. First pitch is 4 p.m. for what should be a whale of a game.
Both teams are 12-1 in District 22-5A and guaranteed to land either the No. 1 or No. 2 playoff seed moving forward.
Dobie has not won a district title since 1997.
In the first round of district play, the Longhorns got a brilliant pitching performance from sophomore Jesse Paredes and took advantage of five Pearland errors during a 4-1 win.
The loss was just one of two handed to Pearland all season. Yet this Dobie team has backed down from no one all season.
It would be great to win the District 22-5A crown, but the bigger goal is to make a deep playoff run. Realistcally, the playoffs start April 25, at Dobie.
“When I became head coach, one of my messages to the guys is that we wanted to have a program that wasn’t just happy with making the playoffs,” Torres said. “Making the playoffs is an honor, but we want to play deep into the playoffs. That’s still our goal this year. Of course we want to beat Pearland and win district, but we also want to keep playing into the playoffs well past this.”
Torres said the Longhorns, if they win the District 22-5A title, will face Channelview in the first round of the playoffs. Should Dobie slip to the No. 2 playoff seed with a loss to Pearland, Dobie will meet North Shore in the first round.
In the playoffs, opponents may either choose a one-game playoff or opt for a best-of-three series.
As difficult as it may be to keep things in perspective in the finale and simply play the game, Torres is confident the Longhorns will.
“The guys know what’s at stake,” he said. “They know the title is on the line. But they’ve done a great job all year of going out and just playing.”
Team captain Mike Munoz, arguably Dobie’s Most Valuable Player this season given his contributions both pitching and at the plate, will draw the start on the mound.
Paredes, who has also been terrific as one of the Longhorns’ starting pitchers, will be available out of the bullpen if needed.
“It’s Mike’s turn to pitch, and in essence we are turning to our captain,” Torres said.
“Hopefully, he can go out there and pitch the way he has all year. If we make the plays behind him and score some runs, we’ll be fine.”
Munoz was the winning pitcher as Dobie downed Pasadena 2-1 April 18 at Maguire Field. The Longhorns then downed Sam Rayburn 15-1 April 20, also at Maguire, as Travarus Ansley started on the mound.
“Travarus has logged some innings and will be ready to go in the playoffs,” Torres said. “We know the need for three pitchers or more in the playoffs, and we feel like we’ll be ready to go.”
First, though, there’s a playoff-like game coming against Pearland.
The Longhorns, not satisfied with merely making the playoffs or taking second these days, plan to be as prepared as possible.
Dobie will also be carrying the load for Pasadena ISD when the playoffs get started. With the Longhorns and Pearland occupying the first and second playoff seeds out of District 22-5A, Manvel will be third. Alvin has earned the fourth and final playoff seed.
In terms of the bidistrict playoffs, Deer Park and La Porte are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, out of District 21-5A, with North Shore third and Channelview fourth.
Of interest, Dobie has faced Channelview (2011), North Shore (2012) and Deer Park (2013) over the past three years.
The locals beat Chanelview and North Shore but fell to Deer Park in a one-game playoff scenario last season.
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