Louis DeLuca - Staff Photographer Kyle Johnston, Player of the Year, RHP, Flower Mound / The 5-11 senior tossed a perfect game against South Grand Prairie to start the area round, striking out 16. And when he faced cross-town rival Flower Mound Marcus in the Region I final, Johnston was against untouchable, throwing a five-inning no-hitter. He sent Flower Mound to the state final with another masterful performance in the 5A semifinals, allowing a run and four hits to Pearland in a complete-game win.
Brad Loper - Staff Photographer Darius Hill, OF, Hitter of the Year / The 2013 SportsDayHS newcomer of the year continued punishing pitchers. The District 9-5A co-offensive MVP – along with W.T. White’s Juan Rivera – Hill hit .534 with 45 RBIs and 45 runs scored. Amazingly, 34 of his 63 hits were for extra bases, including 11 triples, the nation’s highest total in 2014 according to MaxPreps.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Danny Wallace, Coach of the Year, Flower Mound / His first season at Flower Mound ended in disappointment, bounced in the first round of the 2013 playoffs after going 15-0 in district play. Wallace’s second season ended in elation – as Flower Mound built momentum and rolled to the state title, the Dallas/Fort Worth-area’s first Class 5A baseball champion since 2008.
Courtesy - Courtesy Tristen Lutz, Arlington Martin, RF/P / In the long and distinguished coaching career of Martin coach Curt Culbertson, freshmen rarely get the chance to make an impact on the varsity. Lutz is only the second freshman since Culbertson’s been at Martin (2003) to break into the starting lineup and stay there through district. Teammate and rising senior Josh Watson is the other.
John F. Rhodes - Special Contributor Kyler Murray, IF, Allen / It’s no shock that the two-time football state championship MVP is as smooth on the diamond as he is on the field. The Texas A&M football pledge is the son of an 11th round MLB pick (father Kevin Murray) and the nephew of an All-American (uncle Calvin Murray). Murray hit .404, with nine home runs, 35 RBIs, 35 runs and 25 steals.
Matt Strasen - Special Contributor Kent Myers, IF, Sachse / In an era where multi-sport athletes are a rarity, Myers showed it could be done at the highest level. The Utah State football signee was the District 11-5A MVP in baseball (as a shortstop) and football (as a quarterback). He finished with a .500 on-base percentage, 30 runs, and 22 steals – batting .444 with runners in scoring position.
John F. Rhodes - Special Contributor J.T. VanGelder, IF, Frisco Liberty / Frisco Liberty made the regional semifinals for the second-straight season, thanks in part to this slick-fielding second baseman. The District 9-4A defensive MVP, VanGelder didn’t commit an error over Liberty’s 14-game district schedule. Batting near the top of the lineup, he hit .397, with 25 RBIs and 26 steals.
Mark M. Hancock - Special Contributor Brendan Venter, IF, Flower Mound Marcus / District 5-5A was one of the most talent-laden districts in the state (its playoff teams went 14-3), and Venter was its MVP. The 6-3, 200-pound junior third baseman hit .294, with 20 RBIs, 10 doubles and 22 runs scored for the 5A Region I finalists. With a strong arm and quick bat, he will be one of the area’s biggest recruits in 2015.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Jacob Patterson, LHP, Richardson Berkner / No one struck out batters with the same frequency as Patterson – but he didn’t do it by overpowering the opposition. Instead, the Texas Tech signee used pin-point control. Named 9-5A MVP, Patterson averaged nearly two strikeouts per inning (139 K in 71 IP), while walking only 10 batters. He finished the season at 6-3 with a sub-1.00 ERA.
Louis DeLuca - Staff Photographer Drew Gooch, LHP, Argyle / A four-year starter, Gooch made playoff runs with Argyle before, reaching the region finals in 2011 and 2012 and making the third round last season. But the TCU signee was determined to make that final push for a trip to the state tournament – and it showed. Gooch didn’t allow an earned run in his final three starts, all wins – including a one-hitter in the Class 3A semifinals against Sinton.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Ben Leeper, LHP, Southlake Carroll / The Stanford pledge and 4-5A pitching MVP was a huge reason why Carroll was considered a favorite for the 5A title, going 11-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 106 strikeouts. But it wasn’t meant to be; Leeper tore his UCL in the Region I quarterfinals against San Angelo Central, and Carroll lost to eventual champ Flower Mound in the following round.
John F. Rhodes - Special Contributor Tyler Ivey, RHP, Rockwall-Heath / Ivey is another in the line of great pitchers developed by Heath coach Greg Harvey. The Texas A&M pledge pitched alongside Jake Thompson and Jovan Hernandez in 2012, going 5-3 as a freshman as Heath won the 4A title. This year, the junior was named the District 12-5A pitching MVP, going 12-2 with a 1.34 ERA and a team-high 117 strikeouts.
Louis DeLuca - Staff Photographer Steele Walker, OF, Prosper / The 9-4A MVP announced on Tuesday that he was committing to Oklahoma – a fitting cap to a fantastic junior season. Walker posted a .516 on-base percentage, but he wasn’t a singles hitter. The centerfielder hit five home runs and 14 doubles, drove in 32 RBIs, scored 46 runs and added 13 steals for the Class 4A Region II semifinalists.
Thao Nguyen - Special Contributor Connor Wanhanen, OF, Flower Mound / Wanhanen improved on a stellar junior season – where he was named to the SportsDayHS first team – by winning the 5A state title. At the state tourney, the TCU signee went 4 for 7 with five runs scored. Flower Mound’s lead-off hitter and centerfielder, Wanhanen hit .421, scoring 52 runs and adding 10 doubles, 20 RBIs, and 21 steals.
Steve Hamm - Special Contributor Cody Farhat (1), OF, Plano / The Texas Tech pledge earned 10-5A MVP honors, helping Plano advance to the Class 5A Region II final. A centerfielder and lead-off hitter for Plano, Farhat terrorized opponents with his speed, posting team highs in runs (47) and steals (34). He hit .395, with three home runs, three triples, 12 doubles and 31 RBIs.
Courtesy - Courtesy Scott Balfantz, C, Irving Nimitz / The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi signee was instrumental in helping turn Nimitz from cedar dweller (0-16 in district in 2010) to a playoff program (11 district wins and runner-up finish in 2014). A jack-of-all-trades (P/C/IF), Balfantz was the 6-5A MVP, hitting .344 with 37 RBIs, 16 runs and 16 doubles. He’s also his school’s valedictorian.
Brad Loper - Staff Photographer Garrett McCain, UTIL, Wylie East / The 13-4A MVP and Oklahoma State signee went 9-1 with a 1.56 ERA and 96 strikeouts, hitting .493 with 33 RBIs, and 40 runs. Even in defeat, Wylie East’s left-handed ace came away looking impressive, allowing just four hits and one run in a 1-0 first-round loss, outdueled by Mount Pleasant’s Michael Kopech (a first-round MLB draft pick).
Andy Jacobsohn - Staff Photographer Layne Looney, UTIL, Highland Park / Highland Park coach Travis Yoder said that at the beginning of the 2014 season, he thought Looney might be a long reliever. Luckily, he stuck him into the rotation. The junior threw four no-hitters en route to unanimous 10-4A MVP honors, going 12-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 119 strikeouts. A part-time DH and catcher, he hit .370 with 20 RBIs.
Brandon Wade - Special Contributor Joe Heineman, UTIL, Southlake Carroll / Transitioning from a spot starter/reliever’s role into the heart of Carroll’s rotation, Heineman did so with a flourish. Named the District 4-5A MVP, he ended the season at 10-1, with a 0.89 ERA, two saves and 73 strikeouts for the 5A Region I semifinalists. Heineman also played shortstop, hitting .377 while providing solid defense.
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