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As son of an MLB stalwart, Lake Travis shortstop Kaeden Kent leads area's top 6A team

Rick Cantu
Austin American-Statesman
Lake Travis' Kaeden Kent, leading off in front of Vista Ridge's Owen Groch during a game last season, leads the Cavaliers with a .449 batting average. He has only struck out four times in 115 plate appearances this year.

If Kaeden Kent wears a major league baseball uniform someday, it won't be the first time he has spent time with the pros.

The Lake Travis shortstop remembers going to Dodger Stadium when he was 4. He had a front-row view of the players taking batting practice. A few years later he attended spring training with the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz., and made fast friends with All-Star catcher Buster Posey.

It helps when you follow the coattails of someone who spent 17 seasons in major league baseball.

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His dad.

Jeff Kent was a five-time All-Star who earned National League MVP honors in 2000. His 377 home runs are the most ever recorded by a second baseman. He played for six teams — the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, Giants, Houston Astros and Dodgers.

Many years later, the roles have switched. Jeff Kent and his wife Dana are now regulars at Lake Travis baseball games. The Cavaliers, the top-ranked Class 6A team in Central Texas, will begin their playoff journey when they play a best-of-three series Friday and Saturday against Vandegrift.

On a team loaded with talent, Kent recently was named MVP. He finished the regular season with a .449 batting average, striking out only four times in 115 plate appearances. A part-time pitcher, he is credited with 30 strikeouts in 22 innings and has three saves.

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Perhaps he will play in the big leagues like his dad someday. He already has a scholarship to play baseball next season at Texas A&M. But before he finds greener pastures elsewhere, he has other goals before he graduates from high school next month.

"Right now I'm living life in the moment, taking it all in," Kent said before a recent workout on the campus diamond. "My dad always told me to take pride in what you have right now."

Lake Travis senior Kaeden Kent, posing in front of a stadium poster that bears his name, said his first coach was his dad, former big leaguer Jeff Kent.

Kent can take pride in a team that enters the playoffs with a 25-4-3 record. The Cavaliers are ranked as the No. 3 Class 6A team in the state. Nothing short of an appearance at the UIL state tournament next month at Dell Diamond would be a disappointment for a team with 13 seniors.

"Kaeden is a real down-to-earth kid," Cavalier coach Mike Rogers said. "You'd never know who his dad is. He's very hard on himself, very demanding. It's very rare for kids to be that focused."

Rogers pointed to a recent Cavalier game as an example of Kent being critical on himself. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Kent went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and scored two runs.

"He told me he wasn't happy because one hit came off the end of the bat and the other was up on the handle," Rogers recalled. "But they were hits, you know. Most kids would say, hey, I'm 2-for-2. But the hits weren't pure enough. Sometimes a baseball player can get by with some stuff, but he knew deep down inside he didn't square the ball up."

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Kent credits his dad for his development as a baseball player. Jeff Kent spent countless hours teaching him the mechanics of the game and showing support by always showing up for his games.

Lake Travis shortstop Kaeden Kent slides home during a game against Austin High this season. After the playoffs, he can turn his attention to a college career at Texas A&M.

"He's a great father and coach," Kaeden said.

Lake Travis is blessed with a deep pitching staff, which should come in handy if the Cavs make a deep run in the playoffs. College-bound pitchers such as senior Ethan Calder (Baylor), senior Luke Jackson (Texas A&M), senior Pierce George (Texas) and senior Charlie Bower (Baylor) have been as good as advertised. The Cavaliers have limited 25 of their 32 opponents to three runs or fewer.

"Sometimes a team will have only one good pitcher," Calder said. "It's good to know that if you have a pitcher who's not on his "A" game, you've got people who can back them up. Depth is huge, especially in the playoffs. In a three-game series, you need five or six pitchers."

Lake Travis MVP Kaeden Kent got his start by playing in the Lake Travis Youth Association when he was 5. Today he prepares for his final journey as a member of the Cavalier baseball team.

Lake Travis talent isn't reserved for only pitchers. When it comes to offense, the Cavs look to first baseman Cole Johnson (Oklahoma State), outfielder Daniel Ripple (Hendrix College) and infielder David Ripple (Hendrix College).

Calder said the senior class has been talking about going to state for four years. When the current seniors were freshmen, they were reserves on the 2019 Lake Travis team that reached the state semis, losing to eventual champion Southlake Carroll 6-2 at Dell Diamond.

Kent, for one, said Lake Travis has a "reasonable shot" to reach the state tournament June 8-11. Calder agrees. Both tap the brakes, though, saying the only game that matters is Friday night against Vandegrift.

Something about living life in the moment.