RJ Butler, Jesse Conway and River Phillips all delivered big contributions for a Payson baseball team that cruised to another 3A East championship and finished 19-8 overall.
Fittingly, all three Longhorns were recognized for their performances as region coaches voted them to the All-3A East First Team.
They were among seven Longhorns honored on the team. Brian Young was named Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons after guiding the Horns to a 9-1 region record, a third straight 3A East title and their second outright crown in three years.
Butler, a senior, made the 13-member first team at catcher. He also earned second team all-state Honors He controlled the game with his arm and was one of Payson’s top batters, leading the team in hits (33), including a number of clutch base knocks, and led Payson starters with a .407 batting average. He drove in 27 runs.
Conway, a junior, made the all-region team as an outfielder. He batted .375 with 20 RBIs, 24 runs and led Payson in slugging (.625) and OPS (1.088). He also led Payson with eight games started on the mound. He also earned honorable mention all-state accolades.
Phillips, a junior, made the all-region team at pitcher. He went 5-0 with a 3.94 ERA and led Payson in appearances (15), innings pitched (48) and strikeouts (60). He also batted .310 with 21 RBIs.
Senior pitcher Kevin Cerna and junior first baseman Hunter Harold (1B) made the second team.
Senior outfielder/infielder/pitcher Alan Cerna and senior outfielder/pitcher Makoa Rich were honorable mention.
“I think what has been impressive with our teams over the past few years is that we aren’t stacked with region players of the year,” Young said. “We just always have a lot of good players that play hard and contribute in the team format.
“I am proud of our guys who ended up receiving honors this year. It represents a lot of hard work and individual improvement from each player.