Matthew Wallace rejoined the baseball team to simply have a good time, but he ended his high school career with much more than expected.
After playing on varsity as a freshman and sophomore, Wallace decided not to play baseball last season to focus on football. Admittedly, Gatesville’s senior second baseman needed a little time to find his rhythm, but by the time the season was over, his play was impressive enough to earn him a spot on the District 8-3A All-District First Team.
“I came back and played baseball because I wanted to have fun, have something to do, hang out with the guys some more and be a part of the team,” Wallace said. “But (receiving this recognition) definitely sends me out on a high level.”
During district play, Wallace led the team in hits (18 for 34), batting average (.529) and was second in RBIs (5), while scoring three runs.
“He started the year, before district, down in the order around seventh or eighth,” Gatesville head coach Craig Keeton said. “As the year went on, I just kept bumping him up because he consistently kept hitting the ball. Offensively, he was a weapon for us and ended up batting cleanup for us.”
Wallace was one of eight Hornets to land on the all-district list released Monday, including senior catcher Cullen Mayhew and junior centerfielder Wyatt Crum, who were each named to the first team.
Like Wallace, Mayhew had no aspirations of making the all-district team when the season began.
“I wasn’t really worried about that,” he said. “I was more worried about (putting together a good season so) I could go play at college.”
Mayhew finished second on the team in hits during district, producing 15, including a team-high seven doubles, and led the team with 10 RBIs, but his poise was one of his best attributes, according to Keeton.
“He stood out at the plate and behind the plate,” Keeton said. “His arm strength and his overall ability to just call games and be a leader back there (was impressive).”
Crum finished district with a .346 batting average, scored eight runs and was responsible for the team’s lone home run in a game against district champion Liberty Hill.
“I feel like I accomplished a lot,” Crum said, “and I’m hoping for an even better showing next year. … I’m hoping to continue (playing after high school), and this is only going to give me more motivation to get there and accomplish my goal.”
Brownwood senior Scott Kinzler was named MVP, while Burnet senior Will Kyle was offensive MVP. Liberty Hill junior Dane Rumley received the defensive MVP, and sophomore teammate Jason Reeves was named newcomer of the year.
Gatesville seniors Tyler Jaynes and Hunter Dean both landed on the second team as a pitcher and outfielder, respectively.
“Tyler has been our rock,” said Keeton, who was disappointed Jaynes did not make first team, “but we just had a district full of good pitchers. … Hunter plays every sport known to man, and he just works his tail off.”
Lampasas senior pitcher Cullen Singleton joined the Hornets’ duo on the second team, while Badgers catcher Cutter Estep was a honorable mention. Gatesville’s senior designated hitter Trevor Barton was also a honorable mention along with teammates Seth Martin and Jeff Speer.
Despite falling two games shy of making the playoffs and failing to reach the postseason for a third consecutive season, Wallace has no regrets about any of the time spent with or without the team.
“I’m glad I came back and played, and I’m glad I played the two years before,” he said. “I’m honestly kind of glad I didn’t play last year. … I got myself ready for football, and it paid off because we went 13-1.”
8-3A ALL-DISTRICT TEAM
MVP — Scott Kinzler, Brownwood, Sr.
Offensive MVP — Will Kyle, Burnet, Sr.
Defensive MVP — Dane Rumley, Liberty Hill, Jr.
Newcomer of the Year — Jason Reeves, Liberty Hill, So.
Pitchers – Scott Kinzler, Brownwood, Sr.; Shae Edmonds, Burnet, Jr.; Dane Rumley, Liberty Hill, Jr.
Catchers – Cullen Mayhew, Gatesville, Sr.; Colby Schmidt, Liberty Hill, Jr.
First Base – Nick Melvin, Burnet, Sr.
Second Base – Bryant McDaniel, Brownwood, Sr.; Matthew Wallace, Gatesville, Sr.
Shortstop – Will Kyle, Burnet, Sr.
Third Base – Colton Rockafellow, Burnet, Sr.
Outfield – Rhett Brooks, Llano, Sr.; Zach Evans, Burnet, Sr.; Wyatt Crum, Gatesville, Jr.; Tristan Hiedelberg, Liberty Hill, Jr.
Utility – Seth Owen, Brownwood, Jr.
Designated Hitter – Blaine Schilling, Burnet, Sr.
Pitchers – Tyler Jaynes, Gatesville, Sr.; Cullen Singleton, Lampasas, Sr.; Kannon Prior, Liberty Hill, Jr.; Cody Remore, Liberty Hill, Jr.
Catcher – Josh Thompson, Burnet, Jr.
First Base – Mason Baty, Liberty Hill, Jr.
Second Base – Ben Rundzieher, Burnet, So.
Shortstop – Colton Guidry, Brownwood, So.
Third Base – Trent Carlton, Brownwood, So.
Outfield – Hunter Dean, Gatesville, Sr.; Jesse Barker, Burnet, Jr.; Taylor Sorensen, Llano, Jr.; Jason Reeves, Liberty Hill, So.
Utility – Holden Simpson, Llano, So.
Designated Hitter – Justin Osteen, Brownwood, Jr.
Brownwood – Emilio Salazar, Sr.; Austin Chick, Jr.
Burnet – Jeremy Ayers, Jr.
Gatesville – Trevor Barton, Sr.; Seth Martin, Jr.; Jeff Speer, Fr.
Lampasas – Cutter Estep, Jr.
Liberty Hill – Tyler Barrows, Sr.; Kyle Marshall, Sr.; Jake Stalder, Jr.
Llano – Andrew Decker, Sr.; Wil Siegenthaler, Sr.; Isaac Hutto, Sr.; Caleb Penny, Jr.; Eli Tiffin, Jr.; Chance Ware, Jr.; Logan Bauer, So.; Jalen Bauman, So.; Kyler Tarter, So.; Lance Reven, So.; Tommy Yennington, So.