Three area high school baseball players were honored when the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association released its all-state teams.
Avalon’s John De La Garza and Palmer’s Jeremy Gauna and Wayne Kemp were listed as second and third team honorees respectively.
For Gauna, a senior who was named to the third team as an outfielder, it was the second time to receive such an honor.
“He was a four-year starter and was all-state last year,” Palmer head coach Jay Johnson said. “He’s just a good, all-around athlete that works hard.”
Kemp, who just finished his third year at Palmer, was named second team third baseman.
The junior was also the top pitcher on the Bulldogs’ district championship team.
“Their ability to play different positions, working hard during practice and being coachable is what makes them all-state players,” Johnson said of the two Bulldogs.
De La Garza, playing at 1A Avalon, dominated his opponents whether he was on the mound or in the batter’s box.
The senior finished with an 8-3 record, 1.57 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 67 innings — while pitching.
He also had a season batting average of .589 with four home runs, 42 RBIs and he only struckout eight times.
“He’s been a leader ever since he was a freshman,” Avalon head coach Tony Hernandez said. “He’s very knowledgeable and became a leader quickly.”
De La Garza, who led Avalon to three playoff appearances in four years, is the first Eagle player to be named all-state since 1998.
Despite being in a district with state-ranked Dawson, De La Garza picked up his second District MVP award this season.
“We’ve known he was going to be special since his freshman year,” Hernandez said. “He was our ace pitcher — he could hit his spots — and he could hit the ball
It didn’t take much to realize how good he was and was going to be.”
On consecutive Friday’s this spring, De La Garza threw a no-hitter against Wortham and followed that with a one-hit shutout to beat No. 4 Dawson.
In the Eagles’ bi-district playoff game against Covington, De La Garza struckout 14 of 17 batters in recording his second no-hitter of the season.