Brothers Zach and Austin Drury have been key to Wiregrass Ranch’s success this season.
The Bulls (16-6) enter next week’s district tournament as the No. 2 seed in Class 7A-8, but four teams tied for the league lead with 5-3 records.
The Drurys will play a big role in how far the Bulls can advance. They have saved each other’s victories on the mound this season and provided big hits for the Bulls and first-year coach Marshall McDougall.
“They have been very, very important,” the former FSU standout said.
We caught up with Austin and Zach recently to find out what they think about their playoffs hopes, a lifetime of playing together and their similarities and differences:
Who is the favorite in the district?
Steinbrenner, Sickles, Gaither and the Bulls finished 5-3 in the district. Freedom was 0-8.
“We knew it would be a tough district,” said Zach, a senior. “There isn’t really a favorite. Anyone can beat anyone. Even Freedom, they are way down there, but they can sneak up on you.”
The advantage goes to the team with the best pitching, the brothers say.
“We have the deepest pitching in our district, that’s for sure,” said Zach, who has a 1.77 ERA in six starts.
Austin has a 1.42 ERA in four starts. And when one brother pitches, the other has relieved in almost every game this year. When the Drurys aren’t pitching, senior Ryan Girard has been stellar.
Wiregrass has beaten first-round foe Steinbrenner twice this season, and also stunned the Warriors, then nationally ranked, in the second round of the playoffs last year.
The pitchers in all those games? The Drurys.
Who is the most competitive?
The brothers say they root for each other at all times, but make no mistake: they are also trying to top the other.
Zach has the better batting average (.391) and more power (three home runs), but Austin has more speed and eight extra-base hits.
“He definitely hits with more power, I’m more of a scrappy hitter,” said Austin, a junior. “I’m a leadoff guy, he’s a clean-up guy.”
On the mound, Zach throws a little harder at 90 mph, but Austin is two years younger (16) and throwing in the 85-87 range.
At home, everything’s a battle, and even dad Michael will get involved.
“We have a super competitive family, and Austin is super competitive,” Zach said. “Everything we do is a competition. We can just be throwing a sock in the living room trying to get it into a cup and it turns into a competition, with our dad, too.”
Line drives vs. fishing lines
Austin has bragging rights in the main off-field activity of the brothers: fishing.
His biggest catch was a 6-foot shark while fishing off the the Skyway Bridge.
“It was awesome,” said Austin, who tossed the not-so-great-white back.
He says it took 10-20 minutes to reel it in, and he used squid as bait.
His brother’s biggest catch?
“Probably like a big grouper, but nothing near mine,” Austin said, with a big smile.
The next step?
Both players are going to play baseball for North Florida. They committed last June. Zach has signed, and Austin plans to as soon as he can.
Next year will be the first year they play baseball without their brother sharing the same dugout. But they will reunite in Jacksonville.
“A dream come true,” Austin said.
“It’s been working throughout high school, throughout our life,” added Zach, “so why not?”
Class 7A-8 at Sickles
Tuesday: No. 4 Gaither vs. No. 5 Freedom, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Wiregrass Ranch vs. No. 3 Steinbrenner, 4:30; No. 1 Sickles vs. Gaither-Freedom winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7
Class 6A-10 at various sites
Tuesday: No. 5 Largo at No. 4 Dixie Hollins, 7
Wednesday: Largo-Dixie winner at No. 1 Osceola, 7; No. 2 Springstead at No. 3 Mitchell, 7
Friday: Final at TBD*
Class 5A-8 at Fivay
Monday: No. 1 River Ridge vs. No. 8 Gulf, 4; No. 2 Fivay vs. No. 7 Tarpon Springs, 7:30
Tuesday: No. 4 Land O’Lakes vs. No. 5 Dunedin, 4; No. 3 Sunlake vs. No. 6 Anclote, 7:30
Wednesday: Fivay-Tarpon Springs winner vs. Sunlake-Anclote winner, 4; River Ridge-Gulf winner vs. LOL-Dunedin winner, 7:30
Thursday: Final, 7:30
Class 5A-7 at Zephyrhills
Tuesday: No. 2 Wesley Chapel vs. No. 7 Weeki Wachee, 4; No. 3 Pasco vs. No. 6 Zephyrhills, 7; No. 5 Nature Coast at No. 4 Central, 4
Wednesday: No. 1 Hernando vs. Central-Nature Coast winner, 4:30; Wesley Chapel-Weeki winner vs. Pasco-Zephyrhills winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7
Class 4A-6 at Ridgewood
Monday: No. 4 Ridgewood vs. No. 5 Hudson, 6
Tuesday: No. 1 Trinity Catholic vs. Ridgewood-Hudson winner, 4; No. 2 the Villages vs. No. 3 South Sumter, 7*
Thursday: Final, 7
*If Ridgewood wins Monday, the game times would flip for the semifinals
Class 3A-7 at Bishop McLaughlin
Monday: No. 5 Brooks DeBartolo vs. No. 4 Seffner Christian, 7
Tuesday: No. 3 Carrollwood Day vs. No. 2 Bishop McLaughlin, 4; No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. BD-Seffner winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7
Class 2A-7 at West Tampa LL
Tuesday: No. 2 Cambridge Christian vs. No. 3 Academy at the Lakes, 3:30
Thursday: Cambridge-AATL winner vs. No. 1 Bayshore Christian, 3:30
*Higher seed hosts