A mix of heavy hitters and staff aces are in contention for Baseball Player of the Year and Softball Player of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on June 10 at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.
Former San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry will be the keynote speaker at the event, which is being put on with help from presenting sponsor Lone Star National Bank.
The nominees for Baseball Player of the Year:
>> Saul Garza, Edinburg North: A standout all season for Edinburg North, Garza hit .530 with three home runs, eight triples, 10 doubles, 33 RBIs and 36 runs scored. He also led the team with 24 walks, boosting his on-base percentage to .645. He slugged 1.060 for an OPS of 1.706.
>> Noe Guerrero, Brownsville Hanna: The junior pitcher had a 6-2 record and a 1.14 ERA with four complete games, including three shutouts and a no-hitter, while leading the Golden Eagles to a District 32-6A runner-up finish and a postseason berth. He pitched 61 1/3 innings and allowed 21 runs (10 earned) on 50 hits, 18 walks and 57 strikeouts as opponents hit just .209 against him.
>> Noel Vela, Mission Veterans: As a pitcher, Vela had an 8-1 record with a 0.94 ERA. In 52 innings, he racked up 87 strikeouts and an opponent’s batting average of .180. As a hitter, Vela posted a .462 average, 45 RBIs, 12 doubles, six triples and two home runs.
The nominees for Softball Player of the Year:
>> Mia Anzaldua, Brownsville Veterans: Only a sophomore, Anzaldua was the Lady Chargers’ best option in the circle and at the plate. As a pitcher, Anzaldua went 11-3 this season with 163 strikeouts and a 0.89 ERA. At the plate, she hit .489 with 42 RBIs and six home runs.
>> Audrey Escamilla, Weslaco High: Escamilla was a big part of Weslaco’s 23-3 regular season and district title in 2017. The catcher flexed her muscles at the plate, hitting .475 with eight home runs, 49 RBIs and a .551 on-base percentage.
>> Amber Reyes, Edinburg High: As the leadoff hitter on the Valley team with the best regular season record (25-2), Reyes set the table for the rest of her Lady Bobcats teammates, hitting .518 and leading the team in hits (58) and runs scored (55). In the circle, Reyes dazzled with a 15-1 record, 0.64 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 87 innings pitched.
The Banquet, hosted by RGVSports.com and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to standout athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The highly prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student-athlete for outstanding achievements on and off the field.
The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, Mid-Valley Town Crier and RGV Sports Hall of Fame will vote to determine the winners in the sports categories. While The Monitor, the Star and the Herald have previously named their All-Area teams in certain sports, the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet will recognize the very best across all three coverage areas.
Tickets for the catered banquet, which will run 6 to 8 p.m., are available through each newspaper’s website at a cost of $40 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, contact Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463.
Horry won seven NBA Championships and earned the moniker “Big Shot Rob” for clutch performances during his 16-year NBA career that included stints with the Spurs, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Lone Star National Bank, first opened in Pharr in 1983, has grown to include more than 600 employees at 33 locations across South Texas. As part of its mission statement, Lone Star National Bank is committed to “helping our communities grow, and serving them with pride and integrity,” according to the bank’s website.
“Lone Star National Bank has a history of being a great community steward,” The Monitor Publisher Stephan Wingert said. “We are pleased to announce that Lone Star National Bank will be the presenting sponsor for the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet. Thanks to their support, we will be able to celebrate the Valley’s best and brightest student-athletes.”