By GARY STALLARD
Huntington standout Sawyre Thornhill has had quite an athletic career with the Red Devils, excelling in both basketball and baseball.
When it came time to choose his next move, however, the senior elected to stick with true love.
Thornhill on Tuesday signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Angelina College beginning in the fall of 2018.
“Baseball has definitely been my number one,” Thornhill said during the ceremony held at Huntington High School. “I know I got some recognition in basketball, but I’ve always wanted to keep playing baseball as long as possible.”
Thornhill’s ability to play more than one position will certainly boost his chances to earn a spot with the Roadrunners. He’s a solid infielder who’s strong at the plate, and he’s shown an ability to serve as a reliable arm out of the bullpen. Following the 2017 season, Thornhill earned Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention honors after hitting .396 with a .549 slugging percentage; he also drove in 22 runs and bashed eight doubles and three triples.
Red Devil head coach Richard Martinez served as an assistant coach at Angelina College for several years. If anyone would have knowledge of a player’s ability to play at a higher level, Martinez certainly would be the guy.
“Sawyre’s got a mental approach to this game that it takes a lot of reps to endure and actually possess,” Martinez said. “The work he’s put in throughout the course of his life and what we’ve been doing here show he’s got the mindset to get through any struggles he may have early in his collegiate career.”
Martinez said he kept his advice simple and to the point when it came to helping develop Thornhill.
“He was a basketball guy who kind of came in late with baseball this season, but I’d already done a lot of homework on him to see just what his abilities were,” Martinez said. “I told him to be patient and play the game for the game. If the only reason you’re playing is so you can go off somewhere to play college ball, you’re not going to perform consistently, and it will end up hurting you.”
Thornhill credited Martinez with driving players to dream big.
“It’s the way he coaches,” Thornhill said. “He’s strict, but he knows how to get players to the next level. The way he pushes us is like no other coach I’ve ever had. He’s looking for every one of us to move up to the next level.”
Thornhill said his approach has always been to improve in every available area no matter what position he played.
“I’ve worked hard at trying to become a whole package,” Thornhill said. “I’ve worked on having power in my swing, and I’ve worked on my footwork and hands in the infield.”
Thornhill is the son of Stephanie and J.C. Burnett.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.
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