There was no shortage of talent on the baseball diamond this season for local teams as almost all of them made the postseason, with Sweeny appearing at the state tournament for the second year in a row.
A trio of Bulldogs headline this year’s superlative awards on The Facts Southern Brazoria All-County team with Joe Effenberger named the offensive player of the year, Nathan Nance the defensive player of the year and Jackson Kiddy the pitcher of the year.
Rounding out the superlatives are Angleton’s Ethan Ebner, defensive player of the year and Danbury’s Alexander Skoruppa, newcomer of the year.
As the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter, Effenberger was the catalyst of Sweeny’s offense and helped propel the team to its second straight state tournament appearance as one of the top hitters in the area.
“It’s a great honor with all the good baseball we have around here,” Effenberger said. “I am excited to receive it.”
At the plate, he batted .432 with 14 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 46 RBIs. He also scored 30 runs while slugging .776 with an on-base percentage of .507.
“The first couple of weeks, it was a little rough,” Effenberger said. “After that first tournament, I started seeing the ball real well and squaring up everything and it was just a really good year for me.”
Effenberger’s best memories from the Bulldogs’ second state finalist season will be playing with his longtime teammates.
“I have been playing with those kids since I was 5 and 6 years old and we have been playing every year since.”
With his baseball career over, Effenberger plans on attending Texas A&M in the fall for mechanical engineering.
Despite losing in the second round of the playoffs, the Angleton Wildcats won the District 24-5A championship and the defense of Ebner was a big reason why.
“I always take pride in my defense,” Ebner said. “I feel like that is what I bring to the table most of. I love making plays.”
Defensively, Ebner committed no errors for the second year in a row. The second baseman had 22 putouts and 33 assists. He was also in on nine double plays.
“I would say I feel like this is probably my best year,” Ebner said. “I have been on varsity for three years. I felt like this year I put all together from the defensive side and the offensive side.”
Ebner’s best memories of his senior season will be the people he had around him.
“I am probably going to remember the people, my teammates,” Ebner said. “They all had an impact. They all brought something to the table and they were all good guys. I just loved being around them.”
Ebner is done with baseball and plans to go to Texas A&M-Kingsville to get a degree in biomedical science. He plans to go into pharmacy.
Skoruppa continued to grow with his second varsity season under his belt. A junior, he was one of the better hitters for the Panthers in an up-and-down season for the team.
“It wasn’t what we expected,” Skoruppa said. “We had some close games just not go our way. We had a lot of young players.”
He batted .357 with three doubles and 17 RBIs.
“I thought I played really good,” Skoruppa said. “I had a good batting average and made some really good plays in the field. I want to improve on my pitching and try to come out better.”
As he prepares for his senior season, he learned several things he hopes will help him next year.
“Every play counts,” Skoruppa said. “All these close games showed us that every play matters, whether it is a win or a loss. You have to be a team player in this game.”
In addition to playing in the field, Nance also pitched for the Bulldogs during the regular season and their march to the state tournament.
At the plate, he batted .321 with four doubles, four triples and 19 RBIs. On the mound, he was 4-4 with a 1.11 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
Nance will continue his baseball career at Wharton County Junior College.
Kiddy is the pitcher of the year for the second year in a row after playing a vital role in the Bulldogs’ state finalist season.
“I think it went well,” Kiddy said. “We worked super hard to get back to state, obviously. We got that and that was our goal. We just wanted another shot at Argyle and we got that.”
He was 10-1 with a 0.36 ERA and 76 strikeouts. He rarely batted, but did have 11 hits, three doubles and seven RBIs. for the season.
“I think I had probably my best year in my high school career, which is great with it being my last year, my senior year,” Kiddy said.
Being named the team’s pitcher of the year two years in a row is no easy feat, but Kiddy is grateful for the accolade.
“It makes me feel happy, glad and I feel like I earned more respect, too.”
As he and his longtime Sweeny teammates go their separate ways, Kiddy has a lifetime of memories to take with him, but his senior season was extra special.
“I am going to remember just the good times with my friends and family, traveling and just the memories of having my friends and brothers around me.”
Kiddy will be playing for Incarnate Word in San Antonio beginning next year.
“I am pretty excited,” Kiddy said. “I am ready to go play at the next level and I am very blessed to do so. I just can’t wait.”