Ace Whitehead and David Heath were forced to wait.
After the standouts helped guide their respective teams into the playoffs, each sat idly for weeks as Liberty Hill maneuvered its way through the Class 4A playoffs before falling one win shy of reaching the state tournament.
The end of the Panthers’ run transformed into reason for Whitehead and Heath to celebrate, though. With Liberty Hill eliminated, the 27-4A All-District Team was released, and the pair received lofty recognition on the list.
A sophomore at Lampasas, Whitehead was named offensive most valuable player, while Heath, a senior at Salado, was named defensive MVP.
The Badgers’ leadoff hitter, who was named newcomer of the year as a freshman, was instrumental as the program delivered its best district showing in more than a decade, producing an 8-2 record to place second in the standings.
For the Eagles, Heath, a catcher, anchored the defense as the team maintained its playoff streak under first-year head coach Emery Atkisson. Salado (5-5) finished third in district.
Heath was a second-team selection last season.
But the two were not the only players from Lampasas or Salado to be honored.
Four Badgers occupied spots on the first team, including junior Marty Ybarra (pitcher), freshman Logan Coleman (second base), junior Ethan Rascoe (shortstop) and junior Hunter Rebando (utility).
Additionally, Lampasas’ junior pitcher Austin Hilgenberg, senior third baseman Jon Davis and sophomore outfielder Gauge Gholson were placed on the second team.
Salado junior Konnor Baird (pitcher) and senior Rustin Hale (designated hitter) were the program’s only first-team selections, but four Eagles landed on the second team. Garrett Knight and Dalton Hawes each capped off their high school careers with second-team honors as a pitcher and shortstop, respectively, while junior outfielders Nader Smien and Cade Self also made the list.
Liberty Hill senior pitcher Wyatt Cheney was named all-district MVP, and Taylor sophomore Isaac Rivera was named top newcomer.