Easton Culp waited for this moment.

Growing up as the son of Harker Heights’ head coach, Culp was part of the program long before ever putting on a uniform. Privileged to witness the inner workings from up close, he watched and learned as some of the Knights’ standout players passed through, including two-time all-district most valuable player Daniel Cole.

Before ever playing a high school game, the shortstop/pitcher understood his destiny.

“I set a bunch of goals for myself coming into my freshman year,” Culp said, “and being named MVP was definitely one of them. I got to watch a lot of great players come through Harker Heights, and after seeing Daniel win it back to back, I knew I wanted to get one.”

Now, his wait is over.

On the heels of an impressive senior season, Culp achieved his longtime goal by recently being named 12-6A All-District Most Valuable Player, and while the accolade is cherished, he does not want to be defined by it.

“It feels great to win this,” Culp said, “but I just hope I was a great example for all our underclassmen and anybody else who is coming into the program. I hope I showed them that you can set high goals and achieve them if you put in the work.

“That is really fulfilling, and I feel that is my biggest accomplishment.”

Culp posted a .345 batting average with 29 hits, including seven doubles, to go with 29 runs scored and 15

RBIs. On the mound, he struck out 14 batters in 10 innings pitched, earning a victory and two saves.

Despite the Knights finishing third in the final district standings, Culp’s performance could not be denied, and he was not the only Harker Heights player recognized with a superlative.

Knights senior catcher Tanner Wells was named defensive player of the year, while teammates Jett Millsap, a junior pitcher, senior first baseman Bryce Haws, senior third baseman Joseph Marin and junior outfielder Tyler Halvorsen were each placed on the first team.

Additionally, sophomore pitcher Michael Saiz, junior outfielder Alejandro Ramirez and senior designated hitter Dillon Barker were second-team selections for Harker Heights.

Undefeated district champion Bryan emerged with a pair of superlatives as senior Mason Ruiz was named pitcher of the year and sophomore shortstop Mason Garcia was named newcomer of the year.

Copperas Cove did not place a player on the first team after a fourth-place showing but captured the remaining superlative as senior shortstop Travis Sanders was named offensive player of the year.

Second-place Belton landed five players — senior pitcher Jacob Estrada, junior second baseman Mason Ramm, senior outfielder T.J. Johnson, senior utility player Jackson Shirkey and senior designated hitter Tanner Conroy — on the first team

“I was pretty excited when I found out,” Estrada said. “I knew I had a pretty good pitching performance this season, so it was great to see I made the team.

“I just tried to stay calm on the mound, and if I had runners on base, I just focused on the next batter.”

Killeen sophomore outfielder Cade Searcy and the Temple trio of junior pitcher Nate Mitchell, junior shortstop Isaac Ramos and senior outfielder Johnny Denoso were also placed on the first team along with six Vikings.

The Kangaroos landed five players — Bryce Prince, Connor Beeman, Jack Mellon, Jerryn Pettijohn and Keymoni Coleman — on the second team, while the Bulldawgs were represented by David Cimmino, Blaine Butler and John Garcia-Leon.

Ellison’s Eddie Fraizer also made the second team along with the Tigers threesome of Caleb Lamm, Tyler Tingle and Aaron Bain, giving Belton a total of eight spots on the list – third behind Bryan and Harker Heights with nine apiece.

For Conroy, the Tigers’ acknowledgements were well deserved.

“You always want the players on the field with you to get recognized,” he said, “and a lot of our team was seniors. We have a huge bond because a lot of us have been playing together since we were 5 years old.

“It is great to end the season this way with all of them.”

12-6A ALL-DISTRICT BASEBALL TEAM

MVP—Easton Culp, sr., SS, Harker Heights.

Offensive Player of the Year—Travis Sanders, sr., SS, Copperas Cove.

Defensive Player of the Year—Tanner Wells, sr., C, Harker Heights.

Pitcher of the Year—Mason Ruiz, sr., Bryan.

Newcomer of the Year—Mason Garcia, soph., SS, Bryan.

FIRST TEAM

Pitchers—Rylan Hill, soph., Bryan; Eric Perez, sr., Bryan; Jett Millsap, jr., Harker Heights; Jacob Estrada, sr., Belton; Nate Mitchell, jr., Temple.

Catcher—Kyle Kubichek, jr., Bryan.

First base—Bryce Haws, sr., Harker Heights.

Second base—Kyle Turner, jr., Bryan; Mason Ramm, jr., Belton.

Shortstop—Isaac Ramos, jr., Temple.

Third base—Joseph Marin, sr., Harker Heights.

Outfield—Chance Crawford, soph., Bryan; Hunter Harlin, sr., Bryan; Cade Searcy, soph., Killeen; Tyler Halvorsen, jr., Harker Heights; Johny Donoso, sr., Temple; T.J. Johnson, sr., Belton.

Utility—Jackson Shirkey, sr., Belton.

Designated hitter—Tanner Conroy, sr., Belton.

SECOND TEAM

Pitchers—Bryce Prince, soph., Killeen; David Cimmino, sr., Copperas Cove; Joseph Ojeda, sr., Temple; Connor Beeman, jr., Killeen; Mike Saiz, soph., Harker Heights.

Catcher—Jack Mellon, jr., Killeen.

First base—Aric Hickman, jr., Temple.

Second base—Jerryn Pettijohn, soph., Killeen.

Shortstop—Caleb Lamm, sr., Belton.

Third base—Blaine Butler, jr., Copperas Cove.

Outfield—Ben Torres, jr., Bryan; Eddie Frazier, fr., Ellison; Tyler Tingle, sr., Belton; Aaron Bain, sr., Belton; John Garcia-Leon, Belton, sr., Copperas Cove; Alejandro Ramirez, jr., Harker Heights.

Utility—Keymoni Coleman, sr., Killeen.

Designated hitter—Dillon Barker, sr., Harker Heights; Lezlie Jackson, fr., Temple.

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