HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Bashing statistics out the ballpark
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
CLASS 3A-6A FIRST TEAM
|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
|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
|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
|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|
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
A-2A COACH OF THE YEAR
All-area softball teams will be announced early next week.
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