In a perfect world, Glenn Cunningham wouldn’t need to play any of his underclassmen.
But that’s not the world the Harker Heights head baseball coach lives in, and last weekend the Knights were able to reap the benefits of having to play several youngsters.
One of those was sophomore outfielder and pitcher Michael Rae Zapata, who proved his value throughout the first few games of the season, nearly forcing Cunningham to start him.
“He got our attention pretty quickly, and so we kept giving him opportunities and he kept taking advantage of them,” Cunningham said. “He’s earned a spot and certainly come in and contributed to our team.”
With 1,048 of the total 1,762 votes cast this week, Zapata received 59.5 percent support to claim the KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week award for the week of Feb. 27-March 2.
Zapata earned the nod for his spot start on the mound, tossing a complete-game, five-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over Little River-Academy during the Wolf Pack Classic last weekend.
Zapata was also 6 of 11 at the plate and had a pair of RBI in the tournament as Harker Heights (5-5, 0-1 8-5A) claimed a share of the tournament championship along with Shoemaker after sweeping to five straight wins following an 0-4 start to the season.
“He’s a young kid that has some ability and has handled himself very well in a tough situation bumping up from playing freshman ball (last season) and stepping up to the varsity level,” Cunningham said. “He’s fit in very nicely.”
But it was Zapata’s play from the mound against Academy that really turned heads.
“We kind of had expectations for him to come in and play, but maybe not at the level or the magnitude that he’s come in and played at this point,” Cunningham said.
Zapata’s closest challenger was Salado junior pitcher Britton Hawes, who received 702 votes after he tossed a complete-game, one-hitter in a win over Corsicana to help the seventh-ranked Eagles win the Leander ISD tournament last weekend.
Also receiving votes were Belton senior soccer player Jamie Boone, who had a hat trick in a 5-0 win over Harker Heights and two goals and an assist in a 8-0 win over Ellison last week, and Belton freshman softballer Sidney Holoman, who threw a five-inning no hitter against Lampasas and finished Belton’s CenTex Hit-N-Run tournament with two wins.