It’s not a surprise.
Daniel Cole was recently named All-District 8-6A MVP, and it was unanimous.
But Harker Heights head coach Randy Culp said he had nothing to do with it. Cole’s performance during league play spoke for itself.
The senior pitcher was 6-2 in league play with an ERA of 1.42 while striking out 78 hitters in 49 1/3 innings. He also hit .376 with five home runs as the Knights’ leadoff hitter.
“I think it’s fitting,” Culp said. “It’s a big honor, because I don’t get to vote. It’s voted on by the other coaches in the district, and it was a unanimous selection. It just makes you feel good that the other coaches in the district felt he deserved the highest honor you could get.
“It’s a true representation of your ability in their eyes, and Daniel has probably taught me just as much as I have taught him, as far as how to approach the game how to deal with adversity. All we talk about is his successes, but he’s had some setbacks.”
Cole battled shoulder stiffness in pre-district play this season and didn’t set foot on the hill for Harker Heights until 8-6A play began, as the coaching staff wanted to take it slow with his recovery.
But in regard to his success, Cole doesn’t bask in it. Rather, he gives credit to those around him.
“It all starts with the support I get,” Cole said, “from my family, my coaches and my teammates. I surround myself with good people — people who have the same goal as me. My family has always been very, very supportive of me and pushed me to be the best person I can possibly be — not just on the field, but off the field.
“I feel like I have improved as a person. I interact more with people, and playing baseball for four years in high school has helped me be a better person off the field. That’s kind of the ultimate goal — you don’t always want to excel, but you want to be a better person in the community.
“I feel like I’ve excelled in that.”
And he looks at Culp in a special way.
“Coach Culp has done a great job with me over the past four years,” Cole said. “I look at him as kind of a father figure. Both he and my dad (Whitney) have done such a great job raising me from being the freshman on varsity to a leader as a senior on varsity.
“I just set goals for myself every year — I never settled. I never want to be mediocre. I set goals that are kind of out of reach every year, and it pushed me to work harder and harder with each practice to be that leader for my teammates.
“I feel like I have reached every goal I set. I set a lot of goals for myself, and having the support system I have – like coach Culp, my teammates, my family and friends — it makes it easier when you have that kind of support behind you.”
8-6A ALL-DISTRICT TEAM
- MVP—Daniel Cole, Sr., Harker Heights
- Pitcher MVP—Brandon Pflingsten, Sr., San Angelo Central
- Offensive MVP—Trey Bell, Sr., Belton
- Defensive MVP—Clayton Stewart, Jr., Waco Midway
- Newcomer of the Year—Couper Cornblum, Soph., Waco Midway
Pitcher—Andrew Brown, Sr., Waco Midway; Jaylen Smith, Jr., Copperas Cove; Jacob Mitchell, Sr., Harker Heights; Dylan Blomquist, Soph., Belton.
Catcher—Chris Olivas, Sr., Waco Midway.
Infield—Carson Griffin, Sr., Waco Midway; Brock Martin, Sr., San Angelo Central; Breck Potvin, Sr., Belton; Aaron Krueger, Jr., Belton.
Outfield—Bryce Turner, Sr., San Angelo Central; Michael Goudeau, Soph., Copperas Cove; William Tunstall, Sr., Ellison; Riley Lambert, Jr., Waco Midway; Matt Miles, Sr., Waco Midway.
Utility—Matt Smith, Jr., Harker Heights
Designated Hitter—Caden Henderson, Sr., Waco Midway.
Pitcher—Jonathan Limon, Jr., San Angelo Central; Cameron Johnson, Jr., Copperas Cove; Shane Mejia, Jr., Belton; Logan Dickey, Sr., Waco Midway; Brayden Bowles, Jr., Waco Midway.
Catcher—Nixon Brannon, Soph., San Angelo Central.
Infield—Remington Lutz, Sr., Belton; Kaven Jones, Jr., Harker Heights; Daniel Madrid, Sr., San Angelo Central; Rance Rosas, Soph., San Angelo Central.
Outfield—Avery Whitehead, Sr., San Angelo Central; Julian Jasmin, Jr., Killeen; Kevin Mial, Jr., Shoemaker; Jose Hernandez, Sr., Shoemaker; J.J. Davis, Soph., Waco Midway; Payton Vybiral, Jr., Belton; Spencer Young, Soph., Harker Heights.
Designated Hitter—Jared Jones, Sr., Killeen.