The Nacogdoches area was well represented in the 2021 state baseball playoffs from various classifications. Three athletes from surrounding schools have been presented with another postseason honor by being invited to play in the 47th Annual Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association (THSBCA) All-Star games this weekend.
There are two games scheduled, with the Class 2A-4A All-Star game being played Saturday at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, with the first pitch set for 1 p.m. Alto third baseman Cody Watson and Garrison outfielder/pitcher Dayton Dewberry were both invited to play for the South squad.
Dewberry, who signed to play college baseball with Stephen F. Austin this spring, will not be able to play in the game due to a leg injury suffered in the Class 2A State Championship game last week against New Deal.
The Class 5A-6A All-Star game is also set for Dell Diamond on Sunday at 1 p.m. Nacogdoches graduate and TCU signee Kolton Koonce will play on the South team.
The participation by the athletes has been scaled back from years past because of COVID-19. Instead of going in the night before and having dinner and activities with their teammates, players will arrive the day of the game, go through hitting and limited drills three hours before the contest and then play in their all-star matchup.
CLASS 5A-6A ALL-STAR GAME
Forty active players will be on hand for Saturday’s 5A-6A game, with 20 athletes suited up for each team. Four players invited were unable to attend.
A few of the notable players joining Koonce on the South team include: Braden Davis (1B) of Westlake, Ryan Brome (OF) of Katy, Lane Brewster (OF) of Clear Creek, Cameron Cauley (SS) of Barbers Hill and Tristan Cavazos of McAllen.
Some of the players playing for the North All-Stars include Hunter Autrey (1B) of Corsicana, Trenton Bush (3B) of Longview, and Tyson Neighbors (OF) of Royse City.
Koonce, who is coached by David Greer at NHS and helped the Dragons to a 24-12 record this past season, said being part of the all-star weekend is a great experience in his career.
“I’m pretty excited,” Koonce said Monday. “I didn’t know much about it before this weekend because it’s just for seniors. But hearing about it and learning about it and asking questions, I’m pretty excited and ready to go.
“From what I’ve heard it’s going to be limited because of (COVID-19), but I’m still super excited and I’m ready to get down there because it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Koonce said he’s familiar with teammates Cauley, who is committed to Texas Tech, and knows Robert Fortenberry of Frisco Wakeland, who is going to TCU and he is good friends with, although Fortenberry won’t be playing in the game because of an injury.
“I think I’ll know more guys than I think because looking at the names I don’t necessarily recognize a lot, but when I see faces I’m sure I’ll recognize more guys from summer (baseball) because I’ve played for four years.”
Koonce said, although this honor is a postseason honor, it is different than other honors, such as all-district.
“It’s a big honor,” he said. “It’s more show than an all-district selection. You can just say ‘I’m a first-team all-district player,’ but playing in a game is different because you participate in it and represent Nacogdoches.
“It’s very important to me to represent my town at something this big. It definitely ranks pretty high when you’re representing your team and your town.”
CLASS 2A-4A ALL-STAR GAME
Eighteen other players besides Watson and Dewberry were invited to play on the 2A-4A South squad for Saturday’s contest.
Some of the other South All-Stars include Ty Winkenwerder (1B) of Shiner, Sawyer Smith (2B) of Carthage, Zerick Warren (C) of Elkhart, Bryce Blinka (OF) of Caldwell and Colton Warren (SS) of Hudson.
Some of the North All-Stars include Kyler Reed (1B) of New Deal, Dylan Carrell (2B) of White Oak, Jacob Davilla (P) of Bosqueville and Brian Reid of New Boston.
Watson played for Chris Moore this past season, helping the Yellowjackets to the District 22-2A championship before losing in the Class 2A Region III Semifinals after a 25-9 season mark.
The third baseman, who currently doesn’t have any plans of playing college baseball, but is planning on attending SFA and majoring in Kinesiology, said he’s honored to be a part of the all-star weekend.
“It was all kind of unexpected at first, but I’m really honored to be a part of it,” Watson said. “There’s only a select amount of people and they only take a few, so it’s an honor to be one of those invited.
“When you see your teammates get nominated, but you are the only one chosen it shows how much of a big deal it is.”
Watson said he knows several players at the game, including Dewberry, Zerich Warren of Elkhart and Bryson Adair of Malakoff. He admitted that knowing people playing will make it even more fun.
He also said being chosen makes the honor special.
“This is definitely one of the top things from my high school career,” Watson admitted. “I’ll remember this for a long, long time. It’ll rank up there with one of the most successful things I’ve accomplished in my baseball career.”
Dewberry had a memorable senior season, leading Garrison to the Class 2A State Championship game for the first time in school history. Playing for third-year head coach Dempsey Compton, the ‘Dogs posted the first-ever undefeated baseball District 23-2A record (16-0) to capture the championship and finished 29-9 pm the season.
“I always knew we had a good team. But everybody has been saying we were good and we had a chance at (winning) state and I knew that for years, but it never happened,” Dewberry said. “Garrison had been known for having a third-round (playoff) curse, so we didn’t get ahead of ourselves this year. But it definitely was a year we went above and beyond.”
Although he won’t be playing in the all-star classic, he said he’s excited to attend and be a part of it.
“(Being invited) means a lot to me,” Dewberry said. “Not very many people get a chance to do it. And, especially being from a small town like Garrison, we’ve already put ourselves on the map, but it’s another great achievement under my belt.
“I’m very honored to be invited to the all-star weekend because it’s the best of the best, so being invited means I’m among this group of great players and I’m proud to represent my team and my town.”