T.J. GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR
McALLEN — Crystal Castillo’s trophy case just got crowded.
The Prairie View A&M University hurler from San Benito was recently named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year for posting a 12-4 regular-season record (1-1 in the post-season) and a 2.34 ERA.
What’s more, Castillo, a junior, was selected to the 2019 All Historically Black Colleges and University’s Division I First Team, as well as the Division I Central Region Third Team. Castillo was also named to the SWAC Softball All-Tournament Team, where Prairie View lost in the semi-finals.
Prairie View competes in the D-I SWAC conference which includes Texas Southern, Grambling, Southern and other HBCUs. It is the second-straight year Castillo has earned first-team all-conference and all-tournament honors.
The 5-foot-3 Castillo could have made a run as the conference’s most improved player as well. From her sophomore year, the right-hander cut her ERA in half, pitched nearly 50 more innings and increased her win and strikeout totals. In 2019, she fanned 105 batters in 128 innings pitched.
As Prairie’s go-to pitcher, Castillo really paid dividends for the Panthers – especially at the end of the season. In the team’s final regular-season series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, she pitched a complete game, one-hit shutout victory with 11 strikeouts in the first game and picked up a save in the second contest by throwing three hitless, scoreless innings to close.
Castillo, a former softball All-Valley MVP and part of the San Benito team that qualified for the state semi-finals in 2015, also threw two complete games in the SWAC tournament and allowed just three runs in 14 innings. The SWAC twice named Castillo Pitcher of the Week during the 2019 season.
VETERANS’ CARMONA LIFTS UTRGV AT WAC
Brownsville Veterans’ alum Max Carmona put on quite a performance at the WAC Track & Field Championships recently. The freshman middle-distance runner finished third in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:54.32, and he was part of the 4×400 relay team that won the gold medal with a time of 3:12.33 at the conference meet in Sacramento, California.
Carmona and his relay team’s time was not low enough to qualify them for the NCAA West Regionals, nor was his 800-meter mark. Still, Carmona walked away from his first D-I track and field conference meet with gold and bronze medals. Carmona’s best mark in the 800 this season was 1:51.16 at an April meet at Rice University. The relay team’s time was the fourth-lowest in program history.
SOUTH’S ANCISO EARNS RED RIVER HONORS
Former Harlingen South Hawks standout Daniel Anciso was recently named to the Red River Athletic Conference Baseball Championships All-Tournament Team. The senior catcher went 5-for-15 in four games for a batting average of .333 and a slugging percentage of .400. Behind the plate, he had 18 putouts. OLLU fell in the tournament and its season ended.
However, Anciso, a junior-college transfer who spent two years at Blinn College, was a standout during the season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Anciso ranked fifth on the team in hitting with a .285 batting average. He also had 41 RBIs and scored 11 runs. In the field, Anciso committed just five errors to post a .974 fielding percentage safely handling 184 of 189 chances.
LA FERIA’S SIERRA SETS PR MARKS AT TEXAS STATE
Sophomore distance runner Tina Sierra saved her best for last. Competing for Texas State University at the Sun Belt Conference Track and Field Championships. The La Feria alum finished second in the 5,000-meter and seventh in the 10,000-meter run at her final meet of the year earlier this month. Sierra marked times of 17:11.26 in the 5,000 and 37:32.51 in the 10,000.
Sierra, who has twice qualified for the NCAA Regionals in cross country, did not take up long distance races in track until this season. Before she had concentrated on middle distance such as the 800 and mile runs. However, soon after taking up the longer races, she showed dramatic improvement. Texas State competes against schools such as UT-Arlington, UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State in the Sun Belt.