The Daily News’ Galveston County athlete of the year coverage returns and, as has become tradition, we begin with the finalists for girls athlete of the year.
This will be followed by the boys finalists being named next week on July 9, and then the winners will be announced July 16 for the girls and July 23 for the boys.
Readers can vote for their favorite athlete in a poll attached to each article about the girls and boys athlete of the year finalists at galvnews.com.
In a break from tradition, The Daily News is selecting one fewer (three) girls finalists and one more (five) boys finalists to test the waters as to what the magic number should be. And without further adieu, the following are the finalists for the 2016-17 Galveston County girls athlete of the year:
Caitlyn Burroway, Clear Creek, Class of 2017
The Clear Creek Wildcats’ volleyball and basketball programs both had banner seasons this year, and right at the heart of both teams’ remarkable runs was Burroway.
In the fall, the Regis University (Denver) volleyball commit Burroway led the District 24-6A champion Clear Creek volleyball team’s deep, balanced attack with team-highs in kills (514) and aces (62), was second on the team in digs (502), and was an integral cog on a squad that reached the Class 6A state championship match.
It was the volleyball program’s first trip to state since 2008 and only its second appearance in a state final, with the last coming roughly four decades prior.
Burroway hit the ground running entering basketball season fresh off the volleyball team’s deep playoff run. Burroway led the Wildcats in points per game (14.1), rebounds per game (6.8) and steals per game (2.3), and her post presence was crucial in the basketball program reaching the regional tournament for the first time since 2001.
Among the three finalists, Burroway is the only one to earn first-team all-county honors in two separate sports.
Baylee Klingler, Dickinson, Class of 2018
Dickinson’s Baylee Klingler is not only one of the county’s best softball players, but is also one of the best young talents in the nation, as she is currently spending a summer mashing for Team USA’s junior women’s national team.
During a softball season where the Lady Gators were district runners-up and made a return trip to the postseason, Klingler, a Texas A&M commit, posted an eye-popping .584 batting average with 54 runs batted in, and 33 of her 59 total base hits went for extra bases (including 12 home runs).
A clear choice for the all-county softball team at shortstop, Klingler also was an all-county second-teamer in her second sport of volleyball.
Displaying the diversity of her athleticism, Klingler recorded 344 kills, 66 aces and 418 digs as the Lady Gators’ top outside hitter, earning first-team all-district honors despite a rough season in District 24-6A play.
Leyha Williams, Ball High, Class of 2020
The surprise star of the track and field season was Ball High’s pint-sized, effervescent freshman Leyha Williams.
After having a mostly quiet regular season, Williams exploded onto the track and field scene at the District 23-5A meet, taking first place in the 100-meter hurdles, second place in the triple jump, third place in the 300-meter hurdles and third place in the long jump to be the top girls points scorer in a deep, talent-rich district.
Williams went on to have an even more stunning performance at the area meet with first-place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump before completing an unlikely Cinderella run to the state track and field meet with a third-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles at the Region III-5A meet.