All-state selection process needs fixed

The players the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association (PHSBCA) recently selected as all-state deserve congratulations.

The PHSBCA deserves a smack.

The area was well represented in the four classifications as it should be since it is one of the state’s premier high school baseball regions. The glaring omissions, however, overshadow everything those chosen achieved.

Area first-team players in their respective classifications include: Dawson Fox, Muncy; Kenny Koch, Muncy; Kelby Mullen, Sullivan County; Barry Heinrich, Sullivan County; Justin Lambert, Hughesville; Andrew Null, Montoursville; Matt Reese, Wellsboro and Robbie Klein, Loyalsock. Hughesville’s Sadiq Burkholder and Loyalsock’s Jimmy Webb were second-team selections.

All those players were outstanding and had huge seasons. All are worthy. But the process needs to immediately change because this is not a true all-state team.

Most importantly, if a team is not a PHSBCA school, it cannot have any players included on the all-state teams. How ridiculous is that? You are cutting off nearly half the state because of that illogical rule. Do those other teams not play baseball and excel at it? Explain that one to me, PHSBCA.

If you do not believe how much of an impact that makes consider this. Not one of the Class A state semifinalists, including state champion Johnsonburg and runner-up Canton, had a player chosen. Cole Peterson, Garrett Wesneski and Chase Pepper were as good as anyone in the state but they, along with, Emmett Watson, did not even warrant consideration.

In Class AA, state champion Loyalsock was the only semifinalist to have players chosen. Beaver, which lost just four games and had a Division I pitcher with brilliant numbers, received nothing. The same can be said for Class AAA state champion West York and Class AAAA runner-up Lower Dauphin. Looking for players from District 4 Class AAA champion Jersey Shore or any from the other three Class AAAA semifinalists? Good luck because you will not find them.

And how do these coaches vote when they probably only saw a handful of these players, the ones that are actually allowed to be eligible, compete? When all-state teams are chosen in almost every other sport, coaches and media are included. Votes only take place once everyone from across the state has had ample time to nominate and then make cases for why players should be all-state. Sure, there are still debates after the teams are chosen, but at least it is done in a fair and democratic fashion.

One also has to wonder which coaches actually voted. If this team was chosen like some conference all-star teams are with players only getting selected based on attendance than it becomes fishier. The all-state lists also reveal how little the coaches probably do know about players throughout the state since Fox was listed as a third baseman even though he played mostly shortstop, first base and catcher when he was not pitching. Sullivan’s Mullen was listed as a middle infielder even though he was primarily a catcher and pitcher.

Some of the players omitted also induce big-time headshakes. How in the world did Loyalsock’s Kyle Datres not receive all-state recognition? He was the best player on a state champion and was dominant as a pitcher, shortstop and hitter and he gets nothing? He and fellow Division-I bound Jimmy Webb both should have been first-team selections. Both are ranked among the state’s top players for the class of 2015 and both are five-tool players. Anyone who watched or followed Loyalsock would understand that.

The same goes for Montoursville’s Cameron Ott. The junior was the district’s best catcher this season and is as good as it gets behind the plate, even calling the pitches. He also had a big offensive year against a challenging schedule and looks like another potential Division I player but he gets snubbed, too. Again, anyone who watched or followed Montoursville would understand how good Ott was and how worthy he was of all-state honors.

That is the problem, though. One wonders if those choosing these teams have seen any of the players outside their school or their district. One wonders if they have even heard or read about them.

The way things are done now hurts everyone. Those selected have some of their luster taken away and those even considered because they are not members of a club cannot put something on their resume that might help when trying to move on and play collegiate baseball.

The system is broken and needs fixed. The state softball team was selected last week after state chairman Mark Temons contacted every media outlet and coaches throughout the state. Lengthy nominations were delivered statewide and hundreds of voters had a say in how things turned out. Football and basketball teams are chosen the same way.

That is the way the all-state baseball team should be selected in the future. Make this a true all-state team and not just a PHSBCA select team.

The PHSBCA did a lot wrong this year. Now make it right.

Masse may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse