Scott II, Craig shine at plate for Lonestar National 2024 Sanders at Pudge Rodriguez World Classic

By: Luke White

This summer’s Lonestar National 2024 Sanders team features two players that will be making plenty of noise on the high school baseball scene for the next two years, and they’ve already given glimpses of what to expect.

Outfielder Matt Scott II of Klein Oak (TX) and first baseman Elbert “Trey” Craig of Pantego Christian Academy (TX) both had monster performances at the plate in the 2022 Pudge Rodriguez World Classic from June 14-19. Scott, an Oklahoma commit, clobbered an eye-popping five home runs with 11 RBIs during an 8-for-21 showing, while Craig went 12-for-24 with three extra-base hits and five stolen bases.

It may be easy to fly under the radar on a team with other Division I commits, such as the Texas Tech-bound Kayson Cunningham and Vanderbilt pledge AJ DePaolo, but the duo’s stat lines speak for themselves. To achieve such results, however, the incoming juniors took different approaches in their at-bats.

“With no strikes, I’d try to hit a home run,” Scott said. “But with one or two strikes, I’d shorten up and try to hit the ball the other way.”

“I was doing what I could with the pitches I got,” Craig said. “Sometimes it happened to be a single, and sometimes it was a big fly. It just depended on the pitch I got.”

On the other hand, both players carried the same mindset into the games by treating them as any other, despite the circumstances and competition.

“I tried to treat them like any other game and not get too high on anxiety,” Scott said. “I just stayed calm.”

“All of the games felt the same,” Craig said. “There were definitely more high intensity games, like when we played [Hawaii Elite 2G Toro], since they’re another really good baseball team. It was high energy, and that made us play a bit harder.”

Despite losing the Pudge Rodriguez World Classic after falling by a run in the championship game, this Lonestar team is nearly unbeatable when each player is clicking. Scott and Craig have been key to its success this summer, not only as a result of their personal accomplishments, but in the impact they have on their teammates.

“The better I do as a leadoff batter, the better [my teammates] can do,” Craig said. “If I can barrel up on a fastball, it brings a lot of energy to the dugout, and that helps the whole team.”

Similarly, the pair shares a special dynamic with each other. A long-lasting friendship has brought them together as teammates, where they feed off of each other’s success to become better ballplayers themselves.

“Matt and I have been friends forever, and we grew closer when I joined Lonestar last year,” Craig said. “This year we’ve started building off of each other. He’s helped me with some things, and I’ve helped him as well.

“If I hit a ball 450 feet, he’s gonna try to hit one 500 [feet].”

As the season continues, the players are looking to sustain their success on the field while leading their team to new heights.

“My personal goals are to keep hitting like I’m hitting now and really burst onto the scene,” Craig said. “Our main goal is to win at everything we do. As of right now, our big goal is to go to the [World Wood Bat Association Championship], dominate, and try to do the best we can do there.”

“My personal goal is to hit 15 home runs, and I have nine right now,” Scott said.

Looking ahead to the future, Scott and Craig are currently set to take different paths. While Scott is already pledged to join the 2022 national runner-up Sooners, Craig is undecided on where to call home after high school.

“It’s awesome to see the success [Oklahoma] is having,” Scott said. “It’s an underrated program, and I have a nice relationship with them. [Assistant coach] Clay Van Hook is a really good coach, and I really like [head coach] Skip Johnson.”

“I want to go as far as the Lord will take me,” Craig said. “I want to go to the League, or play in college if that’s what I have to do.”

Regardless of the path they choose to take, both players are bound for future success while leading their team to more victories this summer.

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