PEARLAND, Texas — Though football players are strapping on shoulder pads and volleyball athletes are lacing gym shoes in preparation for the fall, the eyes of Texas hadn't forgotten the boys and girls of the spring.
The Texas Sports Writers Association named Italy's Brycelen Richards, former Maypearl Panther Dakota Davis and Tanir Horton and former Midlothian Panther Russell Smith to its list of All-State honorees last week.
The group consisted of players that were a select contingent of the greater number of athletes in their respective districts to receive recognition from the association.
Russell Smith, a current Texas Christian University Horned Frog and a Chicago Cubs' 38th round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, cracked the Honorable Mention rotation after striking out 100 batters in 171 innings.
Smith was the team's MVP and the 2017 Golden Arm award winner and picked up Pitcher of the Year District 10-5A honors. He recorded 100 strikeouts and a .33 ERA. It was among the top five in the state in that classification.
The 6-foot-9 and 220-pound left-hander posted a 24-5 overall career record and threw 273 career strikeouts, including four no-hitters.
Davis, a 3A Honorable Mention pitcher, led Maypearl High School to the regional semifinals of the UIL 3A playoffs. He struck out 83 batters in 82.1 innings and posted a 1.530 ERA.
Blinn Junior College's newest right-handed pitcher also went 39-for-93 (.419 batting average) at the plate with 27 RBIs.
Horton earned an Honorable Mention catcher nod despite being thrust into the position after an injury — the first time he'd manned the space behind the plate in his varsity career.
In addition to placing pitches for Davis and junior pitcher Lonnie Brooks, he finished his senior season with a .500 batting average and .552 on-base and .615 slugging percentages. He also went 3-2 in seven appearances, earning a 3.68 ERA and striking out 21 batters.
Richards became one of 39 players to receive the annual first, second or third team honors. In 19 games, she accumulated 43 hits, 52 RBIs, 28 runs, a .683 batting average and a .704 on-base percentage en route to helping the Lady Gladiators finish their District 15-1A/2A schedule undefeated at 12-0.
Three of those hits were home runs.
The Italy incoming senior joined the likes of D'Hanis High School Player and Catcher of the Year Shelby Gayre and Ralls High School shortstop Payton Calderon on the All-State First Team as a first baseman.
---- Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.