HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Bashing statistics out the ballpark


Newberry junior Mike Spina, Buchholz senior Bo Smith and Oak Hall senior Josh Cox are the Sun's baseball players of the year.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 12:31 a.m.

Their Playstation is the batter's box.

Equipped with 30-something ounces of aluminum that may as well serve as joysticks, Buchholz's Bo Smith, Newberry's Mike Spina and Oak Hall's Josh Cox put up MLB 2004 numbers en route to earning The Sun's baseball players of the year awards.

Their statistics are that much more remarkable when you consider Smith is a natural No. 3 hitter forced into the leadoff spot, Spina saw few fast pitches, yet more than doubled the batting average of his next highest teammate, and Cox played for a team that protected him with all-star seniors in 2003 and still-learning underclassmen this past season.

Yet, each showcased not just talent, but tremendous confidence in their abilities.

A look at each:

BO SMITH

  • Senior OF/P, Buchholz, Co-Class 3A-6A Player of the Year

    There is no mistaking that Smith has had good coaching his entire life (dad Bob is the Bobcats' head coach) and also has spent a lot of time honing his game. But one story from the future Florida Gator's senior season shows Smith has a great deal of natural ability, as well.

    Despite having not started a game on the mound in two years, Smith stepped in against Hawthorne in the Alachua County tournament and threw a complete-game shutout with 17 strikeouts.

    "Just lucky, I guess," Smith quipped after the win.

    The Hornets, who saw the lefty keep the ball down and on the corners all night, probably would disagree.

    But it was at the plate where Smith, an outfielder, was the scariest.

    He hit .468 with five home runs, 11 doubles, 26 runs and was 11-for-11 on stolen bases. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder also showed a good eye and was given the ultimate compliment by opposing pitchers, walking 26 times, 11 of which were intentional.

  • MIKE SPINA

  • Junior SS, Newberry, Co-Class 3A-6A Player of the Year

    Santa Fe coach Todd Gray echoes a sentiment around the area when he says, "I'd rather not have to throw to him," when discussing Spina.

    With skills honed by five two-hour batting cage sessions-a-week, Spina is the rare high school player who can talk about being disappointed he didn't hit .700 and be taken seriously.

    "I really wanted to do that," said Spina, who flirted with the number for more than half of the season.

    Instead, he had to settle for an area-high .632 average with 48 hits (tied for Cox as the area's best), 47 RBIs (top in the area) and 25-of-25 stolen bases.

    The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder says he has three goals for an even better senior season.

    First, work hard in school. Second, sign with a major university (Florida State, Florida and Alabama have shown the most interest so far). And third?

    Yes, hit .700.

  • JOSH COX

  • Senior 2B/SS/P, Oak Hall, Class A-2A Player of the Year

    When has a .615 batting average ever looked like a secondary stat?

    Try when you have what is believed to be a state-best 56 stolen bases.

    A blur on the basepaths, a battler with the bat and a brain with the books, Yale-signee Cox is the type of player numerous colleges hope to find.

    He combines his skills with a competitiveness that sees him still bothered the Eagles were beaten in the Class 1A regional finals more than a year ago and a yearning to continually improve.

    Despite swiping 43 bases as a junior, Cox kept working with Oak Hall coaches Kevin Maris and Bobby Hill on reads and jumps, saying "every little thing you take in can help you in so many circumstances."

    He hopes to keep learning in the Ivy League, where he will bump into former OHS teammates Clint (one of The Sun's co-players of the year in 2003) and Robert Dykehouse, now playing at Brown.

    "Robert (a catcher) and I have a friendly wager," said Cox, who also had 33 RBIs and 39 runs (tied with Hamilton County's Luke Selph for area high) as a senior. "He says he's going to throw me out more than I steal on him. I say I'm going to steal more than he gets me.

    "It's going to be a lot of fun to see what happens."

    Robert, keep that arm loose.

    You can reach John Patton by calling 374-5074 or by e-mail at pattonj@gvillesun.com.

    CLASS 3A-6A FIRST TEAM

    NAME SCHOOL POS. YEAR CREDENTIALS
    Kyle Smierciak Gainesville P Sr. 8-2, 2.66 ERA, .323 BA
    Ryan Rossano Keystone Heights P Sr. 8-4, 1.57 ERA, 130 Ks in 80 IP
    Dustin Sherman Santa Fe P Sr. 7-2, 1.80 ERA, 66 Ks in 62.1 IP
    Kevin Ross Interlachen C Jr. .388 BA, 26 hits, .977 fielding percentage
    Mike Spina Newberry INF Jr. .632 BA, 48 hits, 47 RBI
    Steven Rassel Columbia INF Sr. .343 BA, 35 hits, 16 SBs
    Avery Barnes Santa Fe INF Jr. .398 BA, 25 RBI, 24 SBs
    Garrett Painter Keystone Heights INF Sr. .506 BA, 42 hits, 29 runs
    James Dean Union County OF Sr. .451 BA, 20 runs, 27 SBs
    Garrett Brown Suwannee OF Sr. .428 BA, 33 hits, 30 runs
    Bryan Sheffield Williston OF Sr. .486 BA, 26 runs, 23 RBI
    Bo Smith Buchholz Util Sr. .468 BA, 26 runs, 0.51 ERA on mound
    Don Wainwright Suwannee Util Sr. 6-0 record, 2.96 ERA, .341 BA
    Dusty Griffis Bradford Util Sr. 6-1-1 record, 1.84 ERA, .390 BA
    Justin Pickett Bradford DH Sr. .455 BA, 22 RBI, 6 HRs

    CLASS 3A-6A SECOND TEAM

    NAME SCHOOL POS. YEAR CREDENTIALS
    Ricardo Gonzalez Buchholz P Jr. 7-4, 2.88 ERA, 94 Ks in 67 IP
    Scott Smith Eastside P Jr. 6-5, 2.28 ERA, 9 complete games
    Chris Alford Newberry P Sr. 6-4, 2.22 ERA, 65 Ks in 63 IP
    Jeremy Harrell Fort White C Soph. .349 BA, 29 hits, 13 RBI
    Tony Moos Williston INF Soph. .545 BA, 25 runs, 20 RBI
    Kyle Nickel Buchholz INF Jr. .347 BA, 26 RBI ("best BHS INF since Marshall McDougall" - coach Bob Smith)
    Kyle Espenship Fort White INF Jr. .406 BA, 33 hits, 22-game hit streak
    Chris Corbin Dixie County INF Sr. .356 BA, 21 runs, led team in 9 categories
    Lake Raymond Williston OF Sr. .419 BA, 25 runs, 20 RBI
    Jason Altenhof Santa Fe OF Sr. .400 BA, 34 hits, 25 SBs
    Tyler Holt Gainesville OF Fr. .489 OBP, 24 hits, 21 runs
    Jerod McNeal Union County Util. Sr. 3-0, 1.83 ERA, .388 BA
    Brandon Davis Union County Util Jr. .391 BA, 29 RBI, 10 runs
    Mitch Wood Newberry Util Jr. 5-3 record, .321 BA, 22 runs
    Will Adams Bradford DH Sr. .355 BA, 19-game hit streak, 8 SBs

    CLASS A-2A FIRST TEAM

    NAME SCHOOL POS. YEAR CREDENTIALS
    Luke Page Lafayette P Sr. 6-3, 1.73 ERA, 78 Ks in 53 IP
    James Goins Chiefland P Sr. 4-1, 2.36 ERA, 45 Ks in 35.2 IP
    Hamilton Whaley Hawthorne P Sr. 4-3, 2.75 ERA, .388 BA
    Aaron Gresham Lafayette C Fr. .481 BA, 25 RBI, 32 runs
    Chad Brock Chiefland INF Sr. .480 BA, 26 runs, 22 RBI
    Mike Lane P.K. Yonge INF Soph. .417 BA, 33 RBI, 5 HRs
    Jason Deighton Chiefland INF Sr. .410 BA, 19 runs, 15 SBs
    Luke Selph Hamilton County INF Sr. .506 BA, 11 HRs, 39 runs
    Derrick Robinson P.K. Yonge OF Soph. .370 BA, 38 runs, 41 SBs
    David Blanch P.K. Yonge OF Jr. .424 BA, 31 runs, 24 RBI
    Marcus Edwards Lafayette OF Sr. .394 BA, 23 SBs, 26 runs
    Josh Cox Oak Hall Util. Sr. .615 BA, 56 SBs, 61 Ks in 56.1 IP on mound
    Dustin Williams Hawthorne Util. Sr. .321 BA, 4-6 record, 65 Ks in 49.2 IP
    Cortez Gent Chiefland Util. Jr. .320 BA, 4-2 record, 1.91 ERA
    Bryan Croushore Oak Hall DH Jr. .457 BA, 32 hits, 12 SBs

    CLASS A-2A SECOND TEAM

    NAME SCHOOL POS. YEAR CREDENTIALS
    Wes DeWeese Chiefland P Sr. 3-4, 1.29 ERA, 61 Ks in 48.2 IP
    Brian Pittman Lafayette P Jr. 5-1, 3.31 ERA, 62 Ks in 41.2 IP
    J.R. Coarsey Trenton P Jr. 4-4, 1.69 ERA, 41 Ks in 51 IP
    Robbie Rome Trenton C Sr. .353 BA, 29 runs, 7 HRs
    Karl Fultz Oak Hall INF Sr. .439 BA, 29 hits, 26 runs
    Kyle Layfield Trenton INF Jr. .359 BA, 38 RBI, 6 HRs
    Jaime Garcia Hamilton County INF Jr. .378 BA, 5 HRs, 25 RBI
    Tyler Wright Hawthorne INF Soph. .340 BA, .426 OBP, 5 2Bs
    Michael Rome Chiefland OF Soph. .391 BA, 16 runs, 4 HRs
    Jesse Mitchell Hamilton County OF Sr. .341 BA, 30 hits, 29 runs
    Austin Gaver Hamilton County OF Jr. .358 BA, 29 hits, 15 RBI
    Jerry Coe Hawthorne Util. Jr. .333 BA, 26 hits, 2-1 pitching record
    Michael Kelly Lafayette Util Jr. .435 BA, 25 RBI, 4-3 pitching record
    Matt Otte Trenton Util. Sr. .333 BA, 26 runs, 24 RBIs
    Bryant Allen Hamilton County DH Sr. .350 BA, 28 hits, 18 RBI

    HONORABLE MENTION

    Bradford - Jonathon Duncan (Jr. INF), John Sanford (Jr. OF), Cole Rhoden (Fr. INF), D.J. Carter (Sr. C); Buchholz - Eric Thomas (Jr. P); Chiefland - Matt Miller (Jr. OF); Columbia - Michael Kirkman (Jr. P/OF); Dixie County - Christian Singer (Sr. OF); Eastside - Brett Moyer (Sr. INF), Jeff Klein (Fr. OF); Fort White - Chad Cote (Sr. SS); Gainesville - Danny Arvesu (Sr. P), Nathan Moseley (Jr. OF), Lance Larimer (Jr. SS), Jordan Diaz (Jr. C), Andy Mauldin (Jr. INF), Jon Collins (Jr. P); Hawthorne - Matt Triplett (Jr. SS), Dustin Adkins (Jr. Util.), Joey Surface (Jr. Util.), Steven Pillar (Jr. INF/P); Interlachen - Luke Sadler (OF), Randy Adams (SS); Keystone Heights - Brandon Hayes (Jr. OF), Blake Lott (Fr. Util.), Trae Jolley (Jr. C), Michael Comeau (Jr. 3B); Newberry - Brian Aggers (Jr. 2B), Chris Tyler (Jr. OF/P); Oak Hall - Ryan Harvey (Fr. INF); P.K. Yonge - Weston Nuetzi (C); Santa Fe - Kevin Bennett (Sr. OF), Max Loveland (So. SS), Seth O'Steen (Sr. P), Audie Wheeler (Sr. P); Suwannee - Ryan Stovall (Jr. INF), Rheed Baldwin (Soph. P), Billy Moran (Soph. P/2B), Ross Aretino (Soph. OF/INF), Michael Keene (Soph. P); Trenton - Kyle Woodard (Sr. OF); Union County - Brandon Elixson (Sr. C), Michael Vandusen (Jr. 3B/P); Williston - Mike Bertrand (Sr. SS), Cameron Lissimore (Jr. OF), Daniel Smith (Soph. P/3B).

    3A-6A COACH OF THE YEAR

    Andrew Bennett

    COLUMBIA

  • Key stat: Team won district title and reached Class 4A regional semifinals, despite battling injuries all season.

  • Fast Fact: Keystone Heights' Alan Mattox, Union County's Terry Stroemer, Gainesville's Kevin McCollum and Newberry's Bryan Roundtree also received more than one coach of the year nomination from fellow coaches.

    A-2A COACH OF THE YEAR

    Gerald Powers

    LAFAYETTE

  • Key stat: Led Lafayette to a 19-7 record and a Class 2A playoff berth.

  • Fast Fact: Chiefland's Kyle Parnell and P.K. Yonge's John Staples also received more than one coach of the year nomination from fellow coaches.

    All-area softball teams will be announced early next week.

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