Dec 14, 2020
VYPE U Photo Gallery: George Ranch Swim Wraps up Fall Season in Victory
AS IS THE CASE FOR ANY CHAMPIONSHIP-CALIBER SOFTBALL TEAM, SUCCESS BEGINS WITH THE CAPABILITY OF A PROGRAM’S BULL-PEN TO PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE.
Fortunately for Barbers Hill, their starting pitcher Hailey Nutter has a knack for that sort of thing, which has made her one of the best pitchers in the state of Texas.
So, where did it all begin?
“My Mom played in high school and she has always inspired me to compete and play at the collegiate level,” said Nutter.
That inspiration paid off, since Nutter committed to play at the University of Kentucky just a few months ago.
Bradley C. Collier (VYPE)
“It just felt like home up there,” she said. “I really fit in with girls who are going to be there when I join the team my freshman year. The coaches made me feel welcome, and they still talk to me to this day. I felt really wanted at Kentucky and I really loved the experience.“
"I’ll be kind of far from home, but I know that I’ll stay busy and remain focused on what I need to do. I won’t let anything distract me from my game and school when I’m there.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Barbers Hill junior will eventually play for a Division I team like Kentucky, but she does get her opponents’ best at-bat.
“It (the attention she’s garnered) doesn’t really affect me if I’m being honest,” Nutter said. “All I can do is stay focused on the task at hand and remain calm. When we’re on the field, it’s just me and the catcher – that’s the only thing that matters to me when pitching.“
"I don’t let the fans or anyone get in my head because I know that messes with my game. That cannot happen, especially in the big moments.”
The stars of 2023-24 Barbers Hill SoftballBradley C. Collier (VYPE)
Similar to most ball-clubs, some of last year’s stars have since graduated. But the Eagles still carry the distinction of having one of the most complete rosters in all of Class 5A.
After falling to the eventual State Champs Lake Creek in a Regional Semifinals slug-fest a year ago, Barbers Hill will undoubtedly have their sights set on flipping the script this Spring.
“I’m really hoping to win it all,” said Nutter. “Our goal is the same as it’s always been... to win State. But it’s all about the process. We just need to focus on one game at a time and to stay healthy along the way.”
Nutter and the Eagles are prepared to let the good times roll this Spring. Let’s see if they can cap it off with some hardware come June.
Baseball is a sport that continues to endure the test of time. It's been named "America's favorite pastime" dating back decades.
Any star player can remember their days in Little League, where their aspirations of making it to the big leagues were born.The same can be said for Pearland’s Nico Partida.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve had a bat in my hands,” said Partida. “My Dad was the one who handed it to me, and I grew to love the sport as many people do. When you’re that young and you enjoy the work that goes into it, that carries on into the next stage of your life. To this day, there’s nothing I’d rather do than go out onto the field with my friends.”
Pearland’s junior infielder/pitcher has grown to have quite a talent for the game.
Despite being on one of the most loaded rosters in the state, Partida still manages to stand out. This was evidenced by the performance a year ago, which garnered him a first-team, all-state nomination.
Bradley C. Collier (VYPE)
However, there’s much more that goes into what makes him such a valuable asset on the diamond.
“I feel that my greatest strength doesn’t just apply to baseball,” he said. “If I’m doing anything that even resembles a competition, I want to win. I’ve always been a very competitive person. So, I step onto the field with that mentality, regardless of any of the outside noise. I’m just glad I can bring that factor to benefit the team.”
It would seem that his competitive edge has paid dividends for Partida, given that he committed to play collegiate ball for Arizona State midway through his sophomore year.
“One of the biggest factors in my decision was coach (Willie) Bloomquist,” Partida said. “He was really honest. He’ll tell you what you’ll get and what you won’t right away, which I really appreciate from a coach. I also believe they can help build me up as a player. Just the level of comfort from the staff and the organization – it felt like home.”
While the future Sun Devil has secured his opportunity to compete at the next stage, his focus still remains with his high school team.
The stars of 2023-24 Pearland BaseballBradley C. Collier (VYPE)
Pearland is coming off an exemplary 2023 campaign which saw them advance all the way to the Class 6A State Championship, where they were ultimately defeated 6-4 by Flower Mound.
Rest assured that Partida and the Oilers have their sights set on a potential rematch this Spring.
“The mentality is that we know we’re capable of doing it again,” he said. “If we put our minds to it, give 100-percent of our effort as a team, make the routine plays, and do our job at the plate, then I’m sure we can get back to the same spot and pull through this time.”
Texas high school baseball, you have officially been put on notice by one of the biggest gamers in the state... Nico Partida.
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.
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