Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Hermleigh’s Gonzales takes the top spot

Hermleigh junior Makia Gonzales is no stranger to Player of the Week awards. But Big Country sports fans are more accustomed to seeing her snag the accolade on the basketball court, where she is notably one of the area’s best best players. 

Surprise, surprise, she’s not all about hoops. 

Last week, while competing at the Highland Hilltop Relays, Gonzales competed in five events, scoring a total of 30 points. This included a gold medal in the shot put with a personal-best throw of 37 feet, 3 inches, which is one of the top three throws by a Big Country girls athlete this year. 

She also took silver in the discus at 104 feet, bronze in the 100 meters with a season-best time of 13.2 seconds, fourth in the long jump and fifth in the high jump. 

For good measure, Gonzales also went 2 for 2 in Hermleigh’s 23-6 softball win over Hamlin, putting her surprising speed to use with two inside-the-park home runs on Saturday. 

“Makia is a very talented athlete and has a chance to get out of district in all of these events,” coach Duane Hopper said. “She loves the challenge of participating in different events and always competes and gives it her all.

“Considering she got a late start on the track season, I think she is finally getting into a groove and hopefully can have her best performances at district.”


1. Cheyenne Ellett, pitcher, Sr., Brownwood Was 2-0 on the week with shutouts of Clyde (4-0) and Stephenville (6-0), allowing only three combined hits and one walk with 31 strikeouts.

She also helped herself offensively, going 4 of 7 with a double and three RBIs.

2. Kaylen Washington and Alyssa Washington, pitcher/shortstop, Sr./Jr., Abilene High — Were the catalysts in a 14-0 win over North Richland Hills Richland that improved the Lady Eagles to 18-1-2 overall and 7-1 in District 3-6A play.

Kaylen allowed one hit in a six-inning shutout and smacked a sixth-inning grand slam, while Alyssa went 2 for 2 with a walk, a double, a home run, three runs and four RBIs.

3. Cooper Nelson, pitcher, Sr., Brock Blanked Paradise 1-0 with a three-hitter last week and drove in the game’s only run with an RBI single.

Nelson delivered the shutout on just 69 pitches, walking none and fanning five.

“Cooper was spot on with every pitch, he threw a ton of strikes and was very efficient,” coach Hart Hering said. “They were a good offensive team, and he kept their hitters off balance by changing speeds and locating his fastball, breaking ball and changeup.”

4. Riley Rice, pitcher, Sr., Clyde — Tossed a complete-game two-hitter in a 12-1 win over Coahoma that saw him amass 11 strikeouts.

Clyde brings a 16-4 overall record and 5-1 district mark into Tuesday’s showdown with Jim Ned (13-5, 6-0).

5. Kaylee Philipp, pitcher, Jr., Wylie (TIE) — Was excellent at the plate and in the circle as the Lady Bulldogs picked up wins over Wichita Falls Rider (13-1) and Cooper (6-5).

For the week, she allowed four earned runs in 11 innings, surrendering six hits and striking out 16 in a pair of victories, while going 4 for 8 in the batter’s box with a walk, three doubles, two runs and five RBIs. 

The wins improved Wylie to 9-14 overall and 3-1 in District 4-5A action.

5. Kaitlyn Turner, pitcher, Jr., Clyde (TIE) — Tossed a one-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over Coahoma with no walks and eight strikeouts.

She faced one batter over the minimum, just missing a perfect game.

The Lady Bulldogs enter this week at 18-5 overall and 7-0 in district.

6. Kevin Yeager, pitcher, Sr., De Leon Was a combined 6 of 7 on the week with four RBIs in wins over Goldthwaite (4-1) and Gorman (10-0).

Yeager worked a combined five innings on the hill through both games, allowing only one hit with one walk and seven strikeouts.

7. Cain Kittrell, catcher, Sr., Brownwood Finished the week with a combined 6-of-9 tally at the plate, two triples, five RBIs and two runs scored.

The Lions enter this week at 7-8 overall and 1-0 in District 7-4A.

8. Delaney Hanson and Areli Torres, pitchers, Fr./Sr, Haskell — Hanson was a combined 5 for 7 with two doubles, five RBIs and a steal in wins over Albany and Eula.

She also worked two innings in the circle against Eula, allowing a run on two hits with two strikeouts.

Torres went the distance in an 18-0 win over Albany, allowing three hits and striking out four. She hit for herself, going 2 for 3 at the plate.

“Areli has been battling through a leg injury,” coach Eric Simmons said. “I’m so proud of her effort and determination.”

9. Braiden Hill and Matthew Shira, pitchers, Jr./Sr., Cooper — Gave the Cougars a pair of quality starts in back-to-back wins over Wichita Falls Rider.

Hill tossed six shutout innings in a 4-0 home win, while Shira allowed two runs (one earned) over 6.2 innings in a 3-2 10-inning victory at Hoskins Field.

With those wins, Cooper completed a three-game sweep of the Raiders, improving to 9-13 overall and 4-2 in District 4-5A play in the process.

10. Gabe Moore, infielder, Sr., Stephenville Was a combined 5 for 10 on the week with a double, a triple and three runs scored in a 3-1 win over Godley and a 7-6 loss to Brownwood.

Stephenville enters this week at 14-4-1 overall.

10+. Riley Johnson, pitcher, Fr., Colorado City Was a combined 7 for 9 on the week in wins over Jim Ned and Stanton.

Along the way, Johnson charted three triples, six RBIs and five runs scored.

10+. Bailey Aulerich, pitcher, Sr., Abilene High — Allowed two hits and three unearned runs in a complete-game effort to help the Eagles snap a four-game losing streak with a 7-3 win at Weatherford.

AHS entered this week at 13-7 overall and 2-4 in District 3-6A play.


Ethan Flanders, third baseman, Sr., Abilene High (Hit a pair of home runs vs. Weatherford); Caleb Martin, outfielder, Cooper (Went 4 for 7 with a double and two runs in a pair of wins over Rider); Jaiden Franklin, center fielder, Sr., Abilene High (Went 3 for 3 with a walk, a double, a run and three RBIs vs. Richland); Summer Simmons, pitcher, Cooper (Allowed two runs over eight strong innings in a win over Aledo and a loss to Wylie); Bailey Buck, pitcher/infielder, Sr., Wylie (Went 3 for 7 with a walk, a triple, a home run, one run and three RBIs vs. Rider and Cooper. She also pitched two hitless innings with a pair of strikeouts); Lilly New, outfielder, Jr., Wylie (Reached on five of eight plate appearances last week, going 2 for 5 with three walks, three runs and two RBIs vs. Rider and Cooper); Auzzlyn Benedict, outfielder, So., Brownwood (Went a combined 5 for 8 with an RBI last week); Ashlynn Patteson, outfielder, Jr., Brownwood (Went a combined 5 for 8 with two RBIs, two steals and three runs scored last week. Also turned a double play); Mallory Kern, outfielder, Fr., Colorado City (Went a combined 6 for 10 with five RBIs vs. Jim Ned and Stanton); Marissa Reyna, first baseman, Colorado City (Went a combined 5 for 8 with five runs scored vs Jim Ned and Stanton); Peyton Lee, infielder, Jr., Clyde (Was 3 for 4 vs. Coahoma); Kaelyn Miller, catcher, Sr., Clyde (Was 2 for 3 with a two-run home run vs. Coahoma). 

For a player to be considered for Big Country Preps Player of the Week, he or she must be nominated by their coaching staff. Deadline for nominations is noon each Monday. Please include the player’s name, class, position, stats and opposition with your submission.

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