Lutheran South Academy Magazine: A Stellar Spring
Lutheran South Academy Spring sports excelled across the board from girls golf winning a district title to a few track & field state champions and baseball winning its fourth state crown. What a spring at LSA!
In every season there is usually a moment, game, a play, or a win where coach will start to ponder if this is the year.
For Aaron Schneider, who won his 200th career game as a coach this spring, that moment didn't come until the third inning of the TAPPS Division II State Championship game in May.
"In years past we've done that, but this year we were so locked in from week to week on what we had to do," Schneider said. "We always try to not look ahead too far but you do generally look at your teams from year to year and sometimes say we've got everything we need to do it. This year it was such a grind. Our district got significantly better. We were just focused and I don't know if there was a point we were like 'hey we can do this'."
In that third inning, Lutheran South Academy had jumped out to a 3-0 lead and starter Nelson Klein had mowed down the first nine batters he had faced.
The Pioneers poured it on defeating Southwest Christian 16-0 to claim the program's fourth state championship overall and third-straight.
"I think it's just the makeup of our kids," the ninth-year head coach said about the run of success. "We talk about being men of character and competing, and doing both of those things consistently. We believe those things produce championships. "I also think it's a willingness to compete. When you get to the playoffs it comes down to who wants it more. It's not always the best team but who wants to win more and who refuses to go away... Mental toughness above all things has been a trademark for us that we take pride in. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that we can do it."
Schneider, who just completed year 14 at LSA, has built this Pioneers baseball program into a powerhouse.
The Pioneers won their first title in 2015 and then won it back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. LSA would have had a legit shot at winning it in 2020 if COVID-19 wouldn't have taken it away.
Four state championships in a span of seven seasons is a result of the championship culture, which trickles down.
"I think culture is a big part of it," Schneider said. "I think it gets them to believe in what we're doing a lot faster. Our JV practices with our varsity, we do everything together. So, it's a product of us throwing the JV right into the fire with those older guys. The older guys teach the younger guys, and as they move on, the younger guys progress and they take the reins.
"It helps feed the culture that this is everybody's program."
In the playoffs this year, Lutheran South Academy rolled through St. Mary's Hall (9-0), St. Michaels Catholic Academy (3- 0), Fort Bend Christian Academy (10-0), The Woodlands Christian Academy (1-0) and then Southwest Christian School (16-0) to win the title.
At season's end, Texas signee Luke Harrison was named first-team, all-state and Kansas State-commit Deundre Jones earned a second-team nod. On the all-district squad, Christian Melillo and Easton Brenner got first-team, all-district honors and Nelson Klein, Perry Brown and Colt Powledge were second teamers. Honorable-mention picks included Axel De Jesus, Tyler Ehlinger and Tyler Helpenstill.
Lutheran South Academy softball has had some solid runs in the playoffs of late.
This year, the Pioneers reached the third round after defeating Geneva School of Boerne (15-0) and Providence Catholic School (10-0) to reach the Regional Round.
In the third round, LSA fell short to Second Baptist School, which went on to win the TAPP Division II State Championship.
Leading the Pioneers in 2021 was first-team, all-state pick Evany Gonzalez, who is slated to be back in 2022 for her senior year. Also making the all-state squad was Krista VanAken, who was an honorable mention pick.
On the all-district team, Gonzalez, VanAken and Lily Psencik earned first team honors. Secondteam, all-district picks included Ashley Foret, Mackenzie Clark and Katiana Maldonado, who was just a freshman. Honorable mention selections were Cayden Koster and Maddie Lehman.
What is great for LSA is that out of this group, five of the eight all-district selections are slated to return for the 2022 season.
On the hardtop this spring, Lutheran South Academy Boys Tennis had a solid showing.
Led by TAPPS 5A Men's Doubles State Champions Chase Turley and Yu Ching "Tiger" Cheung, the Pioneers finished fourth overall as a team.
Michael Baron made it to the TAPPS State Tournament in men's singles and the duo of Zachary Chen and Dekun Ying made the tournament as a doubles team, neither advanced past the first round.
On the girls' side, Sophia Chen and Jordan Lovoi advanced as a doubles team to the state tournament. The duo defeated Emma Dugi and Catarina Tejera of St. Joseph-Victoria 2-0 in the opening match to advance to the State Quarterfinals.
All spring long you could tell something special was brewing for the women of LSA on the golf course.
Led by Emma Luna, the Lutheran South Academy girls golf team advanced to the TAPPS 5A State Golf Tournament at Cottonwood Creek Country Club in May and finished sixth overall as a team.
Luna took third overall, just finishing five strokes behind first place. In the two-day tournament, Luna shot a 156 (80, 76) to take third overall.
Behind her was Ava Vaught shooting a 207 (103, 104); Tori Burkett with a 221 (113, 108); Lucia DeLuca scoring a 259 (130, 129) and Ella Wittman with a 272 (133, 139).
Back in April, LSA brought home the District Championship after Luna took second, Vaught placed fifth and Burkett took seventh individually.
A good sign heading into that tournament came just a week prior at the Fort Bend Christian Tournament where LSA took first place as a team (407) and Luna took first overall shooting a 78.
TRACK & FIELD
Men's Team 3rd Overall (64 Points)
4x100-Meter Relay – 4th
4x200-Meter Relay – 6th
800 Meter Run: Marcus Gaitán (5th)
110-Meter Hurdles: Braden Leimkuehler (4th) Alec Salerno (7th)
100-Meter Dash: Perry Brown (3rd) 300-Meter Hurdles Braden Leimkuehler (3rd) Alec Salerno (5th)
200-Meter Dash: Perry Brown (2nd) Easton Brenner (7th)
Discus: Lane Whitney (2nd)
Pole Vault: Wilson Klein (NH)
Shot Put: Lane Whitney (6th)
Team 4th Overall (82 Points)
4x100-Meter Relay (State Champions – 51.01)
4x200-Meter Relay – 5th
4x400-Meter Relay – 5th
100-Meter Dash: Ayana Smith (State Champion)
200-Meter Dash: Ayana Smith (2nd)
Discus: Rachel Bell (4th)
High Jump: Audrey Pfeiffer (2nd)
Long Jump: Ayana Smith (State Champion)
Pole Vault: Isla Caudill (7th)
Triple Jump: Malorie McGee (6th)