VMS unveils 2018 All-STAR baseball team

Lyford’s Klostermann named MVP for second consecutive season

Consistency and versatility are just a couple of words Lyford baseball coach Chris Cervantes used to describe Layne Klostermann after the senior was named the Valley Morning Star’s All-STAR Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.

This season Klostermann batted an average of .458, had 19 RBIs and scored 26 runs.

To add to the senior’s list of accolades, he was also named the District 32-3A MVP and signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Klostermann’s team-first mentality helped the Bulldogs reach the postseason where the team unfortunately bowed out in the bi-district round.

“Layne’s consistency and versatility are two of his many strengths,” said Cervantes. “His ability to play multiple positions at a high level really gave the team stability. He has a team-first mentality and is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team succeed.”

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Q: What does winning the All-STAR MVP award for the second consecutive year mean to you?

LAYNE: It means a lot to me because it shows that all my hard work has paid off from my high school career and that it didn’t go unnoticed.

Q: What are you going to remember most about your high school athletic career?

LAYNE: I’m going to remember most the team from my junior year. Winning that first district title in years for the school was pretty special.

Q: Earlier this year you signed to play at OLLU. What attracted you to the program?

LAYNE: Obviously getting an opportunity to play at the next level was extremely exciting. So getting a chance to continue my career at the college level is what ultimately attracted me.

Q: What is your advice to all the underclassmen coming up to represent Lyford?

LAYNE: My advice would be to play your heart out for the time you’re there because time truly does fly by and it will be over before you know it.

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Raymondville’s Gutierrez named Offensive Player of the Year

Raymondville’s Daniel Gutierrez didn’t miss a beat when he brought his winning mentality from the football field to the baseball diamond as the senior helped the Bearkats secure their first playoff appearance since 2014 by finishing the season with 23 stolen bases, 27 runs, 11 RBIs and a batting average of .481.

His gaudy offensive numbers helped him grab the District 32-4A Co-Offensive Player of the Year award. He can now add being named the Valley Morning Star’s All-STAR Offensive Player of the Year honor to his list of accolades.

“Daniel Gutierrez is a hitter who is a challenge for any pitcher,” said Raymondville head baseball coach Judson Savage. “He is a patient hitter who takes advantage of pitchers’ mistakes. It takes someone special to really understand the leadoff roll and thrive in it as Daniel did this season.

“His ability to get on base and then his ability to steal made him dangerous, and made it easier on the hitters behind him. Pitchers and coaches knew that they had to take into account Daniel as a base runner.”

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What does being named the VMS All-STAR Offensive Player of the Year mean to you?

DANIEL: It’s like a sigh of relief. Going through the hitting stations that were set up everyday for the team really paid off.

Q: You were a multi-sport athlete at Raymondville. What will you remember most from your high school athletic career?

DANIEL: The thing that I will remember most is actually making the postseason in every sport that I played.

Q: What is your approach at the plate?

DANIEL: My approach at the plate was to attack the first pitch. I was the leadoff hitter for the team so I was the one who had to set the tone for batters after me.

Q: Raymondville had one of its best baseball seasons in recent history. What made this season so special?

DANIEL: What made it special was the way the team came together when times got tough.

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Harlingen’s Ramon grabs Defensive Player of the Year honors

Intelligent, athletic, disciplined and determined are four key characteristics that have been used to describe this year’s Valley Morning Star All-STAR Defensive Player of the Year.

From being Harlingen High’s valedictorian to earning this year’s District 32-6A first-team catcher nod, Harlingen’s Nathan Ramon had a senior year to remember with the Cardinals.

Adding to his long list of accomplishments, Ramon was also able to sign a letter of intent to play baseball at St. Edwards University in Austin.

The Valley Morning Star had a chance to sit down with this year’s DPOY and get to know him a little better.

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Q: What does being named the All-STAR Defensive Player of the Year mean to you?

NATHAN: Winning is very humbling to me because of the hard work and years of practicing it has taken to get where I am. Defense is one of the most important aspects of the game so receiving this honor is something I’ve always dreamed of.

Q: What is the toughest part of playing catcher?

NATHAN: Playing catcher is a daily grind; blocking balls and getting foul tips hit off your shoulders takes a toll, and having to ice your knees after games is the catcher’s struggle. So, definitely, playing the position the right way is tough, but it’s also very rewarding and special being in charge and touching the ball every single pitch.

Q: You just signed on to play for St. Edwards. What attracted you to the program?

NATHAN: Over last summer, St. Edwards had already been scouting me and their coaching staff was always really nice. I’ve always wanted to go to a high academic university and since I graduated valedictorian, and since my major is political science, being in Austin was the perfect fit.

Q: You’ve had plenty of positive moments in your athletic career, but which one stands out the most in your mind?

NATHAN: I would have to say my favorite high school moment was during my junior year when I hit two home runs in one game against Weslaco. One of those home runs was a walk-off one that ended the game. I saw the ball extra well that day and being able to celebrate an accomplishment like that with my friends was really special.

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Santa Rosa’s Perez throws his way to Pitcher of the Year award

If the name Eleuterio Perez rings a bell, it is probably because this is not the first time the Santa Rosa ace grabbed the Valley Morning Star’s All-STAR Pitcher of the Year honors.

When he received the accolade as a sophomore two years ago, Perez had a season to remember on the mound going 5-2 with a 1.18 ERA and 51 strikeouts. This season, as a senior, he had another impressive year batting .458 with 22 hits, 22 runs, 18 RBIs and an eye-opening 75 strikeouts with a 1.47 ERA.

“He’s a four-year letterman and a strong lefty that is every coach’s dream,” said coach Steve Mendoza. “He is the kind of player that could play anywhere he wants or we need him, but he is one of the better players that I have ever coached in my 14-year career.

“I wish him the best of luck and I appreciate him giving his four year’s for Santa Rosa High School, and hopefully he can use the life lessons that he learned here in his future.”

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Q: What does it mean to be named All-STAR Pitcher of the Year for the second time in your high school career?

ELEUTERIO: It truly means a lot to me as well as the other awards I got through my fours years of high school baseball. I’ve been dedicated to this sport for a very long time. My whole family always pushed and gave me all the advice to be successful in the game of baseball. Therefore, I also thank the rest of the people who believed and was there for me thought my baseball career. I look forward to work even harder to reach my baseball and life goals.

Q: Who was the toughest hitter you faced during your four-year career?

ELEUTERIO: The toughest hitter I’ve faced would be Layne Klostermann of Lyford. He had excellent eye contact and was aggressive in the batter’s box, but, for the most part, I gave him great competition.

Q: This was senior season. What are you going to remember most about your time at Santa Rosa?

ELEUTERIO: I’m going to miss practice. Everyday was just grinding and keeping the intensity up; getting ready to compete against our opponent and on to next. It’s a great feeling putting in the work and knowing everything paid off.

Q: This season was one of the best in recent memory for Santa Rosa baseball. What made this season special?

ELEUTERIO: The energy our teammates had for each other throughout the ball games helped us keep that confidence up. It made us special for the reason being that any doubt that came to us made us believe in the process so that we could come out with the product.

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South’s Martinez shines in debut season as Newcomer of the Year

The Harlingen South Hawks entered the 2018 high school baseball season with a few question marks on the roster.

However, by season’s end, head coach Chris Gracia had found the metaphorical diamond in the rough in this year’s VMS All-STAR Newcomer of the Year sophomore Carlos Martinez.

“Carlos actually barely made the varsity team,” said Gracia. “He just kept working and getting better as the season went along. We were actually DHing for him at the beginning of the year, but through his hard work and progression he worked all the way up to being our leadoff hitter and finished the district season with a .382 average.

“His hustle and effort on every play was noticed by the coaches in our district and I believe that’s why they voted him the league newcomer of the year.”

Martinez finished the season with eight RBIs, nine runs and 14 hits in 23 games played.

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Q: How do you feel about being named VMS Newcomer of the Year?

CARLOS: It means a lot to me. It means that all the hard work that I put in throughout the years has paid off in my first year of varsity.

Q: What are some things that you are going to work on over the summer?

CARLOS: I will work on getting stronger, getting faster and being able to throw the ball harder. I’m going to need a strong arm and some speed in the outfield next year.

Q: What was the defining moment for you this season?

CARLOS: The most defining moment for me this season was when I was given the opportunity to be in the lineup during our second district game. Once I took advantage of that opportunity, I moved my way up to the leadoff spot by the end of the year.

Q: What was the hardest part of adapting to the varsity game?

CARLOS: The hardest part about the varsity level is that everyone is a bit better than you. Everyone throws a bit harder, runs a bit faster and hits a little bit farther. But that doesn’t stop me from being better than anyone else. I just have to work a little harder.

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All-STAR First Team

Coach of the Year: Steve Mendoza, Santa Rosa

Pitcher: Daniel Dial, San Benito

Catcher: Dylan Carreon, Harlingen South

First base: Matt Sesler, Harlingen High

Second base: Chris Gonzalez, Lyford

Third base: Bode Flores, Harlingen High

Shortstop: Ryan Garza, Santa Rosa

Outfield: Albert Mercado, San Benito; Isaias Ibarra, Harlingen High; David Torres, Harlingen South