By Kevin Posival
The Cove Herald
They could've played with some other league baseball teams in the summer and fall and found more success, but Copperas Cove's quartet of all-district seniors chose to play with their Bulldawgs teammates.
Their dedication to the club was their greatest contribution - the biggest and most meaningful.
Seniors Austin Greene, Jhar Devilme and Ty Johnson were all District 12-5A all-district first-team selections and Warren Nealy earned honorable mention.
"They were all extremely hard workers in the weight room and offseason, but I think the biggest part that they taught the younger guys was the dedication to the program," said Cove coach C.J. Wilk. "They're kids that probably could've gone and played with other travel teams, but they always put their team first. ... They were always there leading the way."
Greene (outfield) hit .406 with 12 RBIs and 34 stolen bases. Johnson (third base) had a .347 average and led the team with three home runs and 20 RBIs. Devilme had a 3.48 ERA with 80 strikeouts and hit .245 with 10 RBIs and seven stolen bases as the all-district utility player.
Neely hit .309, stole 19 bases and had seven RBIs.
Copperas Cove finished tied for fifth with Harker Heights this season and will rely next season on a large group of returners, including juniors Duncan Purnell and Joel Hogan, who were boht second-team selections.
Juniors Brandon Smith and Julian Doubleday and sophomore Sevonne Spinks were honorable mentions for Cove.
"They're going to be huge because in the past, we haven't had the number of returners that we have," Wilk said. "So, the experience they've already got is going to be an advantage and what's more important is they've been able to see the level that they're going to have to get to for us to remain competitive and hopefully get one of those top four spots next year."
Shoemaker freshman Raven Saucedo was the district newcomer of the year and A&M Consolidated senior Riley Farrell was the district MVP.
Outside of Sauceda and a pair of Consolidated juniors - pitcher Logan Howell and designated hitter Gabe Singer - the 23-member all-district first team is entirely seniors.
Belton, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights were all represented by a trio of standouts on the first team and Ellison was led by its one first-teamer, senior outfielder Felix Marbury.
Pitcher Blayten Magana, second baseman Max Hogan and outfielder Shane Ward were first-team selections for Belton, which was third in 12-5A behind Consolidated and Bryan.
Harker Heights pitcher Hunter Mayo, shortstop Emery Atkisson and outfielder J.T. Gilmore were the Knights' three representatives on the first team.
"Every day, they just made such an impact even on our younger kids as far as how to prepare yourself, how to get ready to play," Heights coach Glenn Cunningham said.
"That leadership quality is what a lot of them had. They're just exceptional kids because of that work ethic and what they've accomplished because of that work ethic."
Sauceda hit a team-best .405 with five RBIs, a home run, six doubles and nine stolen bases in district play to earn the newcomer of the year honor.
Shoemaker junior Elijah Hilliard was a second-team selection. Also making the second team were seniors Hunter Houston, Austin Bishoff and sophomore Jarred Janczak from Belton and Harker Heights seniors Zach Moseley and Stefan Flores.
12-5A All-District team
MVP - Riley Farrell, A&M Consolidated, Sr.
Newcomer of the year - Raven Sauceda, Shoemaker, Fr.
Pitchers - Logan Howell, A&M Consolidated, Jr.; Austin Ray, A&M Consolidated, Sr.; Blayten Magana, Belton, Sr.; Hunter Mayo, Harker Heights, Sr.; Ryan McNeil, Temple, Sr.; Ty Culbreth, Bryan, Sr.; Travis Gibson, Bryan, Sr.
Catcher - Jacob Huckabay, Bryan, Sr.
1st baseman - Zac Slaydon, Bryan, Sr.
2nd baseman - Max Hogan, Belton, Sr.
3rd baseman - Ty Johnson, Copperas Cove, Sr.
Short stop - Emery Atkisson, Harker Heights, Sr.
Oufielders - Felix Marbury, Ellison, Sr.; Austin Greene, Copperas Cove, Sr.; J.T. Gilmore, Harker Heights, Sr.; Joe Joe Garcia, Temple, Sr.; Shane Ward, Belton, Sr.; Chander Russell, Bryan, Sr.; Ford Moore, A&M Consolidated, Sr.
Utility - Jhar Devilme, Copperas Cove, Sr.
Designated hitter - Gabe Sager, A&M Consolidated, Sr.
Pitchers - Elijah Hilliard, Shoemaker, Jr.; Zach Moseley, Harker Heights, Sr.; Hunter Houston, Belton, Sr.; Brandon Gamboa, Temple, Sr.; Seth Holbert, A&M Consolidated, Sr.; Marshall Laine, Bryan, Sr.
Catcher - Ben Kennedy, A&M Consolidated, Jr.
1st baseman - Austin Bishoff, Belton, Sr.
2nd baseman - Colby Turton, A&M Consolidated, Sr.; Colin Fry, Bryan, Sr.
3rd baseman - Alec Paradowski, A&M Consolidated, Sr.
Short stop - Duncan Purnell, Copperas Cove, Jr.
Outfielders - Stefan Flores, Harker Heights, Sr.; Joel Hogan, Copperas Cove, Jr.; Zach Allen, Temple, Jr.; Matt Muniz, Bryan, Jr.; Cody Hamilton, A&M Consolidated, Sr.; Jarred Janczak, Belton, So.
A&M Consolidated - Kyle Barfield, So.; Kyle Nelson, Jr. Belton - Chase Cryer, So.; Juan Laqunas, Jr.; Walker Winders, So.; Jarret Pickens, Sr. Bryan - Carson Scalaban, Sr.; Austin Gallego, Sr.; Tyler Jordan, Sr. Copperas Cove - Warren Neely, Sr.; Sevonne Spinks, So.; Brandon Smith, Jr.; Julian Doubleday, Jr. Ellison - Tyler Bark, Jr.; Giamcarlos Perez, Sr.; Felix Collazo, Jr. Harker Heights - Caleb Dean, So.; Robbie Sluss, Jr. Shoemaker - Reggie Penney, Sr.; Joey Kraus, Sr.; Trevor Johnson, Sr. Temple - Masin Hesse, Jr.; Seth Culp, Sr.; Josh Cruz, Sr.; Jordan Garcia, Sr.