For the Goulders, Cactus Shadows baseball is a family affair. Not one, not two but three Goulders start for the Falcons, who are ranked fourth in 4A Division II.
Senior Ollie is the team’s veteran catcher. Sophomore Jake is the Falcons’ left fielder while freshman Jackson is the starting right fielder and also a pitcher.
Ollie was relieved when he learned his two younger brothers would be joining him on the varsity. Last year, Jake played on the Falcons’ junior varsity team and Jackson was in middle school.
"I don’t have to go home and hear them whine about not playing, so that’s good," Ollie said, "but we’ve pretty much grown up playing together (but) not all three of us on the same team."
Heading into preseason practices, the Goulders didn’t expect to be grouped together. Sure, after being a key component last season on a team that made it to the 4A state tournament semifinals, Ollie knew he would be back starting on varsity. His younger brothers, though, expected different fates.
Jake, the quietest of the three, figured he would toil again on the junior varsity team.
"I thought I was going to be on the JV," Jake said. "I didn’t think it was going to be a possibility (to be on varsity)."
Being a freshman, Jackson assumed he would have to pay his dues with the junior varsity. With the Falcons having just four returning starters back, though, coach Tom Scala decided Jackson’s time to contribute to the varsity was now.
"I couldn’t believe it," Jackson said of when he learned he would be joining his brothers on the varsity.
Thus far, more is expected of Ollie and Jake. Ollie is slotted as the Falcons’ cleanup hitter and Jake hits behind him. Jackson is at the bottom of the order.
So who is under the most pressure this season? Ollie thinks that role is his.
"I feel pressure in that I can’t let any of these guys do better than me," said Ollie, who homered five times last season. "My average has got to be the best and I’ve got to have the most home runs, but that shouldn’t be a problem."
Ollie, who calls Jake a terrible interview, also said he feels pressure to bring his younger brothers along.
"It’s almost like sometimes you’re a player-coach," Ollie said. "Just being a couple of years older than these guys, my baseball IQ is higher, so I’ve got to bring the young pups along, teach them some stuff along the way."
Right now, the brothers consider themselves to be quite different hitters. Ollie sees himself as a power hitter. Jake said he is a line-drive man and Jackson thinks of himself as a situational hitter, meaning he expects to bunt a lot to move runners over.
Family baseball is not new to the Goulders. Two years ago, Ollie played on varsity with his brother Albie, who now plays first base at Louisiana Tech. There also is another Goulder. Sister Gracie is in seventh grade and plays baseball on a boys team.
Ollie believes he and his brothers along with the other Falcons can enjoy success this season.
"I think we can be really good," Ollie said. "I think we can definitely compete for a state championship, not now, but I think toward the end of the season, we’ll be there.
"We have to make sure the young guys progress."