The El Campo Ricebirds finished the year in the tough 25-4A District in third-place. Despite being in third-place, District coaches awarded the Ricebirds with four of the top end-of-season awards, one more than Sealy who finished in second-place.
Junior Wayne Svatek’s breakout season in his first year with the Ricebirds didn’t go unnoticed and he was named the District Newcomer Of The Year. For the Ricebirds, Svatek played in the infield and pitched.
“This (was) his first year playing varsity baseball and we stuck him at shortstop and pitcher and he did good for us pretty much every game,” Coach Russell Krenek said. “He earned the recognition from the surrounding coaches, teams and won their votes. I’m really happy for him.”
Svatek in District pitched 24.2 innings and had a 1.98 ERA, both team bests. The Ricebird junior often would tag-team with Blaine Bullard and provide a tough 1-2 punch to opponents.
While Svatek is just starting his varsity journey, two Ricebird seniors ended their high school baseball careers with first and second-team selections. Lynn Osina was named a first-team outfielder and Bullard was named a second-team pitcher.
“Definitely happy for those guys,” Krenek said. “We have a handful of seniors that we’re saying goodbye too, but they put in a lot of work over the past few years. So the awards they were nominated (for) are well deserved.”
Jung, a junior, was primarily a third baseman last year and was able to make the switch to catcher fairly seamlessly this season. Jung led the team with a .371 batting average and was named a first-team all-district catcher.
“He was the heart of our lineup and the pretty much the coach on the field,” Krenek said. “He directs traffic for us, calls a lot of pitches for us during the game and we’re definitely glad we’re going to have him back another year.”
Rounding out the first-team awards was junior Tyler Stephenson, who like Svatek, was a first-year varsity player. Without Reed Spenrath and with Osina moved to the outfield, first-base was wide open for the Ricebirds and Stephenson provided a steady bat, hitting .290 at the corner infield position.
“He impressed quite a few coaches throughout the season and earned their votes,” Krenek said.
Rounding out the Ricebirds first and second-team All-District awards was junior Seth Estrada at second base. Estrada had the second-best batting average on the team hitting .321 in District.
Senior Sabastian Wilson and sophomores, Seth Hallinger and Tyler Baklik received honorable mentions.
In total, six Ricebirds who received an acknowledgment by District 25 coaches will be coming back next season.
“When you get the recognition from your peers and other coaches from the District, it means a lot,” Krenek said. “Everybody knows when you play El Campo that you’re going to have to play good baseball because we’re going to match them with good baseball. So it’s neat to have a lot of those guys coming back, definitely something to build on.”