The ending to the 2014 baseball season was a bit bitter, but it couldn't dampen another thrilling year.
Whitewater made another deep run in the playoffs, this time falling in a decisive game three in the championship series. The Wildcats had a tremendous run and, with many key players returning, they have their sights set on a championship next year.
Starr's Mill was back in the playoffs as well and reached the quarterfinals. The Panthers have strung together consecutive playoff trips and they establish themselves among the state's best.
Though the other schools came up short of the playoffs, there were plenty of promising showings, including at McIntosh. The Chiefs narrowly matched last year's win total, but came up short of the postseason. They also swept the season series against Starr's Mill for the first time while splitting with Whitewater.
In a year of tremendous performances, there were plenty of players deserving of honors. In the end, Whitewater sweeps the top honors.
Brandon Bell, the junior third baseman for the Wildcats, is the Player of the Year. Bell only got better as the season rolled on and into the playoffs, finishing with a .385 batting average, .530 on-base, .688 slugging, five home runs, and 41 RBI.
"Brandon powered us all season long," said Whitewater coach Rusty Bennett. "He's a disciplined hitter that rarely strike out. He was the guy we wanted at the plate with the game on the line."
Jonathan Hendershot, the senior flamethrower for Whitewater, is the Pitcher of the Year. Hendershot compiled a perfect 4-0 record during the regular season to go with 39 strikeouts in 33 innings.
"He was consistent all year long and pitched in some big games," Bennett said. "He always wanted the ball and we knew he was one of the guys we could count on."
Rusty Bennett earns Coach of the Year honors. In his first year at the helm for Whitewater, Bennett's team topped 30 wins and finished as state runners up. After such a great start, the team has set a high bar for his second season.
Again this year, the talent was so deep across the county that we had to add spots to the All-County team so we could recognize as many players as possible.
The All-County First Team starts with a pair of catchers in Jared Jackson of Sandy Creek and Alex Adorno of Fayette County. Jackson, a senior, was the driving force for the Patriots, racking up a .390 average with seven home runs and 27 RBI. Adorno raked to the tune of .491 with five homers and 23 RBI.
Brandon Bell is joined in the infield by Patrick Mullins of Starr's Mill and McIntosh's Trey Walters and Duke Kinamon. Mullins, a senior second baseman, led the Panthers with a .378 average, .481 on-base, and 19 stolen bases. Walters, a senior third baseman, rolled up a .487 average with one home run and 26 RBI. Kinamon, a junior, hit .369 with one homer and 26 RBI.
It doesn't get much better than outfield of Fayette County's Chris Jones and Whitewater's Nick Fuerstenau and Jake Wilkinson. Jones, a senior, destroyed opposing pitching with a .586 average, five home runs and 22 RBI. Fuerstenau, a senior, came up with a host of huge hits down the stretch, compiling a .338 average and .500 slugging. Wilkinson, a senior, hit .370 with four home runs and 26 RBI.
There's a lot to like about the pitching around town. A pair of Wildcats, Jake Lee and Jonathan Hendershot, are joined by Tre Hudak of McIntosh. Lee, a junior, was a workhorse for Whitewater during the regular season, winning four and striking out 35 in 32 innings. Hudak, a senior, went 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA while tallying wins over Whitewater and Starr's Mill.
The last two spots are saved for the guys who are equally adept on the mound and at the plate. Alex Goodman of Starr's Mill and Charlie Goedtke of McIntosh were beasts for their teams. Goodman, a junior lefty, hit .376 with a .468 on-base and three home runs while baffling opposing hitters. Goedtke, a senior, hit .444 with 22 RBI while winning four games as a starting pitcher.
The All-County Second Team is also freakishly loaded.
Catchers Evan Mask of Whitewater and Andrew Johnson of McIntosh lead it off. Mask, a senior, made his name as a top defensive backstop with a .993 fielding percentage while also hitting .304. Johnson, a senior, raked for .312 with one home run and 21 RBI.
The infield is made up of Fayette County's Wahid Ali and a trio of Wildcats, Justin Trammell, Caleb Norton, and Taylor Turner. Ali, a senior short stop, hit .409 with three home runs for the Tigers. Trammell, a senior second baseman, did his best work with his glove, finishing the season with no errors while hitting .286. Norton, a senior short stop, hit .346 and slugged .481. Turner, a senior first baseman, hit .306 with 21 RBI.
The outfield consists of Whitewater's Jabari Richards and Starr's Mill's Eric Sutliff and Seth White. Richards, a junior, hit .394 with three home runs, 15 RBI, and nine stolen bases. Sutliff, a junior, was as clutch as it gets, racking up a .378 average, a .484 on-base, and 10 stolen bases. White, a senior, heated up as the playoffs went on, helping push his Panthers to the quarterfinals.
The pitching starts with a trio of Wildcats, Ethan Gillis, Chandler Raiden, and Jordan Holmes. Gillis, a junior, went 3-0 with 30 strikeouts in 20 innings. Raiden, a senior reliever, compiled a 1.75 ERA with three wins and 20 strikeouts in 11 innings. Holmes, a senior, was 3-0 with 21 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Austin Loper of Our Lady of Mercy and Kyle Moseley of Starr's Mill round out the team as dual threats. Loper was the staff ace and veteran presence for the Bobcats, earning himself a spot to play for Berry next year. Moseley, a slick fielding senior short stop, also went 3-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21 innings.
The county honorable mentions also boast a wealth of talent. Starr's Mill's honorable mentions are Matthew Buckalew, Austin Webb, and Adam Weisheit. Sandy Creek's honorees are Anthony Dodd and Cole Jackson. Fayette County's honorees are Brantly Dorrity and Austin Spruill. Whitewater's honorees are Tyler Doanes, Tyler Burdette, Avery Roth, Christian Aragon, and Colby Taylor.