Some of area’s top players all-state
A state champion, two state finalists and three district champions already established the 2013 area high school baseball season as one of the best ever.
Having 10 players selected to the all-state team adds even more evidence for those who want to claim this past season as the best in area history. The following is a look at the 10 players honored last Tuesday.
Class A First Team
Dawson Fox, IF, Muncy: Look at the Muncy career and single-season record books and one finds Fox’s name all over them. A big-time contributor the past three seasons, Fox saved his best for last and had one of the program’s all-time great seasons. Playing four positions, Fox was Muncy’s triple crown winner, hitting .523 with four home runs, 29 RBIs and 20 runs. He also doubled 11 times and had a .603 on-base percentage while hitting safely in nearly every game. He finished his scholastic career third in Muncy history for hits and RBIs and fourth in doubles and games played. He also holds the pitching record for career winning percentage, going 11-2.
Kenny Koch, P, Muncy: Koch also was a huge part of a Muncy team that was a hit away from beating state runner-up Canton in the district semifinals. The hard-throwing sophomore stifled Canton in that game and never had a bad outing. While he finished 3-4, Koch easily could have been 7-0. He often dominated, compiling a 1.44 ERA and striking out 12 batters a game, finishing with 76 in 43 2/3 innings. Just as impressive, Koch allowed only 19 hits all season and held opponents to a .131 average. An outstanding catcher as well, Koch made a huge jump after a promising freshman season and had 26 strikeouts in his first two starts.
Kelby Mullen, IF, Sullivan County: After helping lead Sullivan County’s basketball team to its two best seasons ever, Mullen did the same in baseball the last two years. The senior was part of a record-setting team that went 16-5, finished second in the HAC-III and reached the district semifinals for a second straight year, something the program had never achieved. Mullen was hitting as well as anyone in the district down the stretch and finished with a .559 average, four home runs, 28 RBIs and 33 runs. He also stole 16 bases while winning eight games as a pitcher. Mullen’s performance helped Sullivan win 16 of its last 17 regular-season games and he excelled playing three positions.
Barry Heinrich, IF, Sullivan County: Heinrich combined with Mullen to help take Sullivan to new heights the past two seasons and was fantastic in his final year. Playing a smooth shortstop and anchoring the Griffin infield, Heinrich was lethal offensively. He hit .554 with six home runs, 17 RBIs, 14 extra-base hits and an area-high 38 runs scored. Heinrich combined power and speed and also stole 24 bases. Heinrich has been at the heart of Sullivan’s turnaround the past two seasons and helped the Griffins beat HAC-III champion Bloomsburg as well as District 4 Class AA semifinalist Southern Columbia down the stretch.
Class AA First Team
Andrew Null, 1B, Montoursville: Playing for one of the state’s most tradition-laden programs, Null took his place alongside legends like Tom O’Malley and Mike Mussina, having one of the best seasons in program history. The Sun-Gazette Player of the Year dominated at the plate, on the bases and on the mound. He hit .455, slamming an area-high seven home runs, driving in 31 runs and scoring 19. As strong as anyone in the area and possessing a work ethic to match, Null made tremendous progress after two promising seasons and stole 10 bases while compiling a .529 on-base percentage. Null also stifled state champion Loyalsock in the district semifinals and went 6-3 with a 1.40 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 48 innings.
Justin Lambert, P, Hughesville: A stellar closer the last two seasons, Lambert developed into one of the state’s best starters and his return from a serious elbow injury sparked Hughesville’s remarkable second-half turnaround. Once Lambert started pitching full-time again, Hughesville went from 5-6 to becoming a district champion, 18-game winner and state quarterfinalist for the first time ever. The Sun-Gazette Pitcher of the Year was untouchable down the stretch and went 3-0 in the playoffs without allowing an earned run in 19 1/3 innings while striking out 22. He threw playoff shutouts against Athens and Kutztown and finished his season 7-3 with a 1.51 ERA and struck out 65 in 46 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .158 batting average. Lambert did all this after not being able to pitch in the offseason, so as scary as it is for future opponents, he might be even better in 2014.
Robbie Klein, OF, Loyalsock: On team that has four serious Division I recruits, Klein burst onto the scene and had a year to remember while helping spark Loyalsock to the state championship. The player coach Jeremy Eck said was the team’s regular-season MVP, settled into the No. 3 spot in the lineup and played outstanding in center field as Loyalsock tied the program record for wins. Klein hit .419 with 15 RBIs and nine runs and had an on-base percentage above .500. Klein was at his best in states, hitting .500 and being in the middle of nearly every Loyalsock rally. Klein was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh against Beaver in the state final which ultimately led to Bailey Young hitting the walk-off single that won the game.
Matt Reese, IF, Wellsboro: The senior shortstop helped lead Wellsboro to one of the best four-year runs in program history and was outstanding again in his final season. As good a shortstop as one can find in District 4, Reese anchored the infield, sparked the offense, pitched well and provided strong leadership. He hit .478, scored 30 runs and had a .568 on-base percentage as Wellsboro won 15 games. Reese stole 16 bases without being caught and had a knack for coming up big in clutch situations. He also was outstanding on the mound, stepping up when the team’s projected ace departed and going 5-2. Reese earned the win in a district quarterfinal win over Wyalusing and also went 3 for 3 with two runs.
Class AA Second Team
Sadiq Burkholder, P, Hughesville: Along with Lambert, Burkholder was the team’s MVP and had his best scholastic season while repeatedly excelling in big games. Burkholder was dominant at the perfect time and owned districts, throwing a two-hit shutout against No. 2 South Williamsport in the quarterfinals before throwing a nine-inning complete game and striking out 14 in a district championship win over Loyalsock. The tough left-hander went 9-4 with four saves and a 1.62 ERA. He also struck out an area-high 90 batters in 69 innings and had 26 strikeouts in his two district wins. Burkholder helped the offense as well he was the only player to hit a home run at Bowman Field this season, doing so in the district final.
Jimmy Webb, OF, Loyalsock: The Wake Forest-bound sophomore took off down the stretch when his team needed him most despite playing with a painful quadriceps injury that threatened to end his season. Webb hit .451 with 12 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and 33 runs. He was the ideal No. 2 hitter, sandwiched between Kyle Datres and Robbie Klein, and hit .500 in the state tournament while sparking several rallies. Despite the injury, one of the district’s fastest runners still went all out and was a weapon in right field, tracking down balls that many players could not get to while seemingly scoring every time he reached base in the postseason.