Although Payson senior catcher Ridge Halenar was edged out for East region Player of the Year honors, the Longhorns did have three players chosen first team, two second team and another pair honorable mention.
The only region school with more players honored was East region champion Blue Ridge. The Yellow Jackets had three named first team, a trio on the second squad and two honorable mention.
All were chosen in a voting of coaches held at the end of the regular season at Hondah.
For Payson, Hunter Haynes, Westin Gibson and Halenar were selected to the elite first team. Tyler Savage and Ever Figueroa were tapped second team and honorable mention accolades went to Ryan Williams and Devin England.
Halenar, who some argue was deserving of the POY laurels, wrapped up his final prep season as the East’s most dangerous hitter with a sizzling .621 average. He also had a team-high 48 RBIs, scored 40 runs and powered 24 extra base hits.
Behind the plate, he was widely considered the region’s finest catcher with an arm and quick release that gunned down most base runners attempting to steal.
In fact, most coaches who had studied scouting reports refused to try and steal against Halenar.
Haynes finished the season with a 3.03 ERA that would have been much lower had not Chino Valley torched him for eight earned runs in Payson’s 11-6 state tournament loss.
He also finished the season with a 6-3 record and a region-high 83 strikeouts. Most of the campaign, his control was impeccable, with only 16 walks in 60 innings pitched.
Offensively, Haynes hit at a .387 clip with six doubles.
Gibson, a sophomore shortstop who reeks of potential, hit .504 with 11 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs. His mark for three-baggers and home runs were team-highs.
He also knocked in 46 runs, which was second among the Horns only to Halenar.
Defensively, he was lauded around the region as a steady infielder with good range and a strong throwing arm.
With two years of play ahead of him, Gibson could eventually become one of the finest Longhorn players in the history of the program.
Savage, a senior three-sport star, hit .310 with six doubles, 31 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
He was also one of the East’s steadiest outfielders, committing only one error all season long.
Figueroa finished at .375, but it was his antics on the base paths that helped fuel the Horn offense. In 12 steal attempts, he was successful on 10 of the thefts.
Defensively, he had 40 put outs, 35 assists and helped turn five double plays.
Williams hit 400 with 12 runs scored and eight RBIs. England, a first baseman, wrapped up the season hitting .356.
As a team, the Longhorns finished 20-10 overall and advanced to the state tournament second round before being eliminated by Chino Valley.
Team members will gather at 6:30 p.m. this evening, May 19, for a season-ending awards ceremony in Green Valley Park.