NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Ryan Gray, Fr., Neches
No year in recent memory produced as many good newcomers as 2013 did in the area, but most of those newcomers were able to assimilate into strong lineups for protection.
Not the case for Neches freshman Ryan Gray. Gray was the Tigers best hitter all year long, even though he was only in the ninth grade.
Gray hit .413 for the Tigers in 2013, and was beat out for a first-team all-district spot at shortstop by Cayuga stalwart Hunter Johnson.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Greg Branch, Cayuga
When the calendar moved from 2012 to 2013, Greg Branch wasn’t the Cayuga baseball coach.
In fact, when his team left the field at UT-Tyler at the end of last season, Branch thought his coaching career was done as he moved into administration.
That, however, wasn’t the case and despite not having a set schedule or an assistant coach for much of the year, Cayuga once against won 24 games, making it four-straight season the Wildcats won at least that many games under Branch.
Branch also did it with a patchwork lineup that seemed to almost vary from week-to-week and a team that was, admittedly, short on the star power of years past.
Still, the team advanced to the regional quarterfinals, owing as much to Branch’s steady influence in the dugout as any of the play on the field.
2013 Dogwood Circle Baseball Team
MVP — Chantz Holland, Sr., Cayuga
Offensive POY — Jacob Cheatham, Sr., Elkhart
Defensive POY — Levi Smith, Sr., EHS
Pitcher of the Year — Jordan White, Sr., EHS
Newcomer of the Year — Ryan Gray, Fr., Neches
Coach of the Year — Greg Branch, CHS
P: Chico Herod, Jr., Palestine — The definite ace of the Wildcat staff, Herod went 6-2 for Palestine with a 2.05 ERA. He also struck out 103 in only 68 innings.
P: Chantz Holland, Sr., CHS — The Vernon College-bound senior ended his career in style, going 13-3 on the mound with an ERA under 1.00. Also hit better than .500.
P: Jordan White, Sr., EHS — White filled the ace role nicely for Elkhart, going 10-2 with a 1.35 ERA on the year, striking out 107 along the way.
C: Levi Smith, Sr., EHS — The SFA-bound Smith was once again stellar, earning 1st team all-state honors after batting .435.
1B: John Vickery, Jr., CHS — A transfer into Cayuga, Vickery held down first base, committing only one error on the year while batting a robust .435.
2B: Brian Johnson, Sr., EHS — Johnson wrapped up a solid if not spectacular career in 2013, batting .325. In his four-year career, the senior made only five errors.
3B: Jacob Cheatham, Sr., EHS — The numbers for Cheatham speak for themselves: .556 average, all-state infielder and national record 17 triples.
SS: Juan Trejo, Sr., PHS — One of Palestine’s senior leaders, Trejo led the Wildcat back to the postseason with a .400 average and an almost .600 On Base Percentage.
OF: Cullen Adams, Soph., EHS — Adams was a revelation for the Elks in a much needed place, batting .423 during the 2013 season.
OF: Hunter Johnson, Sr., CHS — Johnson did it all for the Wildcats, batting .418 and stealing 24 bases while playing everywhere on the field. Was also 7-0 on the mound.
OF: Zane Worsencroft, Sr., PHS — A transfer in from out of state, Worsencroft’s impact was quick. The 19-3A Defensive Player of the Year hit .440 while also stealing 17 bases.
DH: Austin Brown, Sr., PHS — Another of the Wildcats’ stellar seniors, the big first baseman hit .405 and led the Wildcats in home runs to wrap up his high school career.
Util: Lane Stringfield, Sr., Westwood — 2013 was a rough one for Westwood, but Stringfield was a silver lining. The senior hit almost .400 at the plate, and struck out 60 batters in less than 50 innings.
P: Brian Gummelt, Jr., PHS
P: Waylon Morris, Soph., Frankston
P: Hunter Parker, Sr., EHS
C: Jaret Walthall, Sr., CHS
2B: Justice Bean, Fr., FHS
3B: Payton Wallace, Jr., CHS
SS: Cole Bridges, Sr., EHS
OF: Jackson Adair, Fr., EHS
OF: James David, Soph., PHS
OF: Devin Harris, Sr., PHS
DH: Ryan Gray, Fr., Neches
Util: Tye Griffin, Sr., FHS
Hunter Jenkins, Brayden Walthall, Cota Wilburn (CAYUGA); Hunter Mewbourn (FRANKSTON); Ryan Jones (NECHES); Ryan Zavala (PALESTINE);
Players picked for the Dogwood Circle team were nominated by their respective coaches. Players who were not nominated were not eligible for selection.