Plano Nabs Top Newcomer Honor Once Again
Did you know?
Plano Senior has earned the Newcomer of the Year superlative
on the all-district team five of the past six seasons
(Ryan Thomas in 2011, Ryan Robertson in 2012, Kenneth Tabor
in 2013, Quinn Waterbury in 2014 and Braley Hollins in 2016).
Matt Welch email@example.com, Jun 30, 2016
No matter the district, no matter the season, the Plano Senior baseball team has become a pretty sure bet to boast their district’s top newcomer on the varsity diamond.
Rising sophomore Braley Hollins is the latest in the program’s long line of promising prospects, becoming the fifth Wildcat in six seasons to be named the district Newcomer of the Year. Hollins’ selection was one of seven for Plano on the 2016 edition of the 6-6A all-district team.
“We knew [Hollins] was pretty good and actually started him out on JV, but I don’t think he ever played a JV game before we moved him up,” said Rick Robertson, Plano head coach. “… He hit at the top of the order and gave us some fundamental things like laying down bunts and hitting for a high average.”
Hollins was a season-long staple in the Wildcats’ middle infield, emerging as a reliable option as the No. 2 hitter in Robertson’s lineup. He was next in line after leadoff hitter and alum A.J. Liu, who earned a spot on the all-district first team following a banner three-year run in the outfield.
“A.J. is one of the most solid players I’ve ever had,” Robertson said. “He’s been in the top of our lineup for three years and has been a spark plug of our offense and a very solid defensive player.”
Liu was joined on the first team by senior Zach Holifield, who stepped into the spotlight as Plano’s top pitcher last season. Not only was Holifield – verbally committed to Oklahoma State – a reliable option for Robertson, he was assured a short night for his bullpen given his ace’s durability every start.
“Zach came a long way from last year. No doubt, he was the anchor of our pitching staff and gave us a chance to win every time he pitched,” Robertson said.
The Wildcats also landed a quartet of players on the all-district second team, including senior Garrett Maas. Serving as Plano’s cleanup hitter, Maas was arguably the team’s steadiest bat late in the season. That carried into the Wildcats’ bi-district playoff matchup against Keller where Maas accounted for four of the team’s seven hits during the two-game series.
“Garrett really came on in the middle of the year,” Robertson said. “He was solid all year, but really became a catalyst and one of the leaders of the team.”
Alum Quinn Waterbury, who was named Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore in 2014, concluded his varsity career with a second-team all-district spot as well.
“Quinn was a very solid defensive player who came up with a lot of big hits for us,” Robertson said. “He was also big out of the bullpen and got a lot of saves throughout the year, which was something we weren’t expecting.”
Another three-year letterman who earned a second-team nod was alum Brett Hudspeth, an annual staple of what was arguably the top hitting outfield in 6-6A this season. In addition to Liu, Hudspeth and fellow all-district second-teamer and alum Chris Cloud all hit over .400 this season.
“We got another solid year from [Hudspeth], hitting .400 in the middle of the lineup,” Robertson said. “We really counted on him down the stretch from the plate … and Chris was a newcomer for us who had been on varsity and played some different positions.
“When a spot in the outfield came available, he really improved as the year went on.”
Top of mind for Robertson and the Wildcats heading into next season will be replacing those three outfield anchors, who have all graduated. The rest of Plano’s arsenal is in good hands, with returners like Hollins and Maas primed to transition the Wildcats to a new-look 6-6A next spring.
“The new district will be tough as always,” Robertson said. “As far as our team going forward, we’re fortunate to have the majority of our pitchers back. We’re still losing some key guys and our entire outfield … but we’ve got some good young kids who will be seniors and others who are improving, and I feel good about where we’ll be next spring.
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