Class 3A high school coaches have tapped a trio of recent Payson High School graduates to play in one of the state's most prestigious postseason all-star baseball clashes.
Scotty Garduno, Tyler Pettet and Cory McRae were chosen to participate in the annual North vs. South All-Star baseball game June 2 at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Game time is 7 p.m.
The three former Longhorn stars were selected to the North team in a voting of members of the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association Sunday at Phoenix Sunnyslope High School.
The youngsters were nominated for the celestial game by PHS coach Teddy Pettet, who said all three were extremely deserving of the honors.
The North team will be coached by Winslow's Art Griffith and Eric Godfrey of Blue Ridge.
Garduno advances to the star games as a four-year starter at Payson High School. As a sophomore shortstop in 1998, Garduno helped the Longhorns earn the school's only state baseball championship.
Last season, Garduno led the team in hitting with a .447 batting average that included a squad-high 38 hits and 31 RBIs.
During his four-year career, Garduno was a model of consistency, maintaining a .400-plus batting average. With tremendous range and a good arm, defensively he was one of the best shortstops in the 3A conference.
Tyler Pettet, a four-year letter winner, finished with a .381 batting average. He led the team in walks (21) and runs scored (22). As the Horns front line pitcher last season, he finished with a 6-3 record and pitched the Horns to the state tournament opening round win over Tuba City. In four years of varsity play, he posted a 17-4 pitching record.
Although he didn't possess a blazing fastball, Pettet had the ability to get ahead in the count and then pinpoint his pitches, throwing curve balls and change ups.
According to his father, the coach, Pettet was not a natural pitcher early in his baseball career.
"If you would have told me at 10 years old he was going to be a decent pitcher, I would have thought 'no'," the coach said.
But years of seasoning paid off when the teenager reached high school.
"He worked hard to become a good pitcher," coach Pettet said.
Pettet's best season might have been his junior year, when he almost single handedly pitched the Horns into the state tournament after ace starter Bryan Zumbro was injured.
If McRae was to be tagged with a nickname based on his contributions to the team, it would be "workhorse."
As the two-year starting catcher, he rarely missed a game. In fact, last season he started every game.
McRae's real contributions to the team, the coach said, focused on the improvements he demonstrated as his career wore on.
"He became a real field general and knew how to help the pitchers and lead the team. In my opinion, he was one of the best catchers in our league," coach Pettet said.
Offensively, his numbers included a .338 batting average and 27 RBIs. Making the all-star team was a consolation of sorts for his relegation to "honorable mention" status in the All-East team voting.
"I thought he should have been first or second team," coach Pettet said.
Although practices have not yet been slated, the all-star coaches are expected to gather the players for several sessions before the all-star game is staged.