All-East, two all-state teams and selection to the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association All-Star game are individual honors state high school players battle for during their prep careers.
This year, All-East laurels — which were doled out two weeks ago — went to seven Longhorn players — Ridge Halenar, Hunter Haynes, Westin Gibson, Tyler Savage, Ever Figueroa, Ryan Williams and Devin England.
Just last week, the AzBCA selected its All-State team as did The Arizona Republic.
Payson players selected for those two teams included Halenar and Gibson.
Days ago, head varsity coaches from around the state nominated then selected players for the 3A North vs. South All-Star game to be played at 7 p.m. June 6 at the Surprise Baseball Complex.
Chosen to the North team from Payson are Halenar, Savage and Haynes. The team will be coached by Aaron Huish of Snowflake and Round Valley’s Zach Step.
Only members of the graduating class of 2009 are eligible to play in the all-star game.
On the AzBCA All-State team from Payson are both Halenar and Gibson. While Halenar was a candidate for Player of the Year, the honor went to Globe’s Brady Wagner.
In selecting The Arizona Republic 1A-3A All-State team, the paper’s sports staff placed Halenar on the first team and Gibson second team.
Also named to the first team from the East was region player of the year Clay Hathaway of Show Low.
For Halenar, being chosen to all four postseason teams represents a clean sweep of prep diamond accolades.
In state sports circles that feat is a huge accomplishment that only a handful of players ever reach.
Halenar was chosen as one of two catchers on the celestial squad. Haynes is among four pitchers and Savage was tapped as an outfielder.
With the trio’s selection to the all-star team, Halenar, Savage and Haynes join a select fraternity of former Longhorns who played their way to star status. They include “Tommy Gun” Canale, Larry Majors, Ky Bradley, Bryan Zumbro, Waylon Pettet, Ashton Shewey and others.
Halenar, who is bound University of North Dakota where he will be a member of the school’s Army ROTC program, is an official walk-on in the Fighting Sioux’s baseball program.
As an ROTC student, Halenar says his goal is to earn a Second Lieutenant commission as a helicopter pilot.
His ROTC scholarship is valued at $205,000. He also received at graduation the inaugural Ted Pettet scholarship given by the Mogollon Sporting Association.
Last season, Halenar led the East in hitting with a 621 average and was widely considered the best defensive catcher in the region, if not the 3A conference.
In addition to his sterling batting average, he was a clutch hitter, as evidenced by his 48 RBIs.
Last week, Halenar graduated as one of the most accomplished players in the history of the Longhorn baseball program.
He also excelled on the football team, quarterbacking the Longhorns to a 14-0 record and the 3A state championship. Teachers also tout him as a role model to younger students and a teen with a strong work ethic.
Haynes will take to the all-star game a 3.03 ERA and a 6-3 record with an East high 63 strikeouts. Most impressive his senior season was his control. In a team high 60 innings on the mound, he walked only 16 hitters.
Savage will join the all-star team as one of the finest outfielders in the state. Last season he committed only one error and was able to use his speed and range to flag down long fly balls that at first appeared to be base hits.
Offensively, he hit .310 with six doubles, 31 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
During his senior year, he also starred on the Longhorn football and basketball teams.
Savage will attend Benedictine College next fall where he has a $25,000 scholarship. He was also the recipient at graduation of the Chance Amon Memorial Scholarship.