No. 5 -- Lutheran South Pioneers
2023: 14-7 (District Champions)
In a word... loaded. Coach Aaron Schneider’s 2024 Pioneers are an embarrassment of riches.
Let’s start behind the plate. One of the nation’s top junior catchers Omar Serna, who is committed to LSU, has transferred from Dobie to bolster an already talented lineup.
He joins junior third baseman Victor Coronado, who can crush the ball at the plate. Coronado and slick-fielding sophomore shortstop Marcus Cantu are both committed to the University of Texas.
Jaylen Walker will patrol the outfield, while senior Roland Aquillon will be the ace on the mound.
Keep in mind, LSA has won state four times in the past nine seasons, their last coming in 2021. So, the Pioneers are due.
SUPERSTITION AND PREGAME RITUALS ARE FAR FROM UNCOMMON IN SPORTS.
Everyone needs that little “extra” to get their minds ready to compete, and Elkins’ senior Braylon Payne is no exception.“I have these stuffed animals – 10 of them to be exact,” he laughed.
“I clip them onto the net before each game for good luck, and I touch them before I go up to bat. The one I started off with was a lion, and after that I can’t tell you since there are so many. It might be a little out of the ordinary, but hey, it’s helped me to get this far.”
As one of the most prolific players in Texas, the Fort Bend Elkins outfielder has become an animal on the field in his own right. His blazing speed, versatile athleticism and exceptional understanding of the five tools has made him a hot commodity in the world of high school recruiting.
While Payne has been pursued by college programs around the country, he won’t have to travel too far next season.
“The University of Houston has always been my dream school to go to, ever since I was a little kid,” said Payne. “I’ve been there so many times and I love the environment. It just made sense to me when I was given the chance to play there.”
The opportunities don’t just end there for the six-foot-one, left-handed hitter.According to Perfect Game, Payne is listed as a 10-grade athlete, which indicates that he is expected to be a high draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft this July.
Despite the possibility of going professional, Payne maintains an unwavering attention to his game.
“I’m just going to let it pan out,” he said. “If I work hard like I’ve been doing my whole life, then everything will go the way I hope it will. At this moment, all I can do is focus on getting better, day by day, and the rest is out of my hands.”
Payne enters his final season with the Knights, which experienced a somewhat down year in 2023. Regardless, he hasn’t shied away from his role as a leader for the program and what they’re capable of in the ensuing campaign.
“I definitely love the leadership opportunity I’ve been given at Elkins,” Payne said. “A lot of people follow in my footsteps, asking questions, and if they need anything, they come up to me. It feels great to be looked up to, and I don’t take it lightly. I’m just glad that I can be there for my teammates.
“I know it’s probably going to be difficult once our last game comes around. It hasn’t quite set in yet that this is likely the last time I’ll be playing with the guys I’ve grown up with. I have a feeling it’ll be emotional. Until then, we’re going to give it our all this season.”
Elkins competes in a brutal district. However, with a likely future pro like Payne on the field, the Knights have the potential to shock opponents in 2024.
There is so much fun to be had at a VYPE Media Days!
From team and individual pictures, social media shout-outs and video interviews, it is all there for the student-athletes to feel like a superstar. VYPE had its Goose Creek CISD 2024 Spring Media Day recently.
Check out the Baytown Sterling Spring Media Day behind-the-scenes hype video below!
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