Larry Van Stavoren is baseball Player of Year
Three area baseball teams captured District 4 championships a few weeks ago. Many more put together strong seasons and continued showing why this area features strong baseball year after year.
So imagine how difficult it was picking area award winners and an area All-Star team. Tough choices had to be made, but the committee has done its best. The envelopes please.
Coach of the Year
Second runner-up–Zac Martin, Loyalsock: Martin faced a lot of pressure in his first season taking over one of the state’s premier programs. But the first-year coach was more than up to the challenge and seemed like the perfect fit. Martin helped Loyalsock win its third district championship in four seasons and guided it to the state semifinals for a seventh time in 10 seasons. Martin had Loyalsock playing its best baseball at the perfect time as the Lancers went 20-4, romped to a district championship against a daunting field and outscored five playoff opponents 33-7 en route to again reaching the semifinals.
First runner-up–Philip Prough, Wellsboro: Since becoming coach in 2011, Prough quietly has done a nice job up north. The secret is out now about how good a coach Prough is after he helped Wellsboro capture its first district championship. Fielding a team with no seniors, Prough challenged them with a tough schedule and pushed the right buttons as the Hornets peaked down the stretch. Wellsboro recorded several quality regular-season wins before beating the top two seeds to capture the District 4 Class AA championship. The Hornets were a timely hit from reaching the state quarterfinals and Prough could be building something big at Wellsboro.
And the winner is…Brian Zysset, Lewisburg: In just two seasons, Zysset has dramatically changed the culture at Lewisburg. A program that had not come close to reaching the postseason since 2000 made a huge breakthrough this season as it won 13 games, ended a playoff drought and beat HAC-I champion Jersey Shore in the district quarterfinals. Equally impressive, Lewisburg beat several strong teams throughout the year, including Loyalsock, Central Columbia and Mifflinburg. Lewisburg has come a long way in Zysset’s two seasons and, despite losing several strong seniors, Zysset looks ready to keep the Dragons being contenders.
Honorable Mention: Mike English, Jersey Shore; Dennis Fitzwater, Cowanesque Valley; Chris Kish, Hughesville; Ryan Miller, Williamsport; Matt Perry, North Penn-Mansfield; Smokey Stover, South Williamsport; Whitlow Wertz, Montgomery
Pitcher of the Year
Second runner-up–Timmy Saar, Jersey Shore: The junior left-hander had a breakout season in 2016 and wasted no time showing he could be one of the district’s premier pitchers this year. Saar went 7-2 with a 1.33 ERA and stifled every HAC-I opponent he faced as the Bulldogs rallied to win the HAC-I championship. Saar was especially dominant early in the season and was a part of three shutouts. He threw a three-hit shutout against Selinsgrove and a one-hit shutout at District 4 Class AA champion Wellsboro. A first-team HAC-I selection, Saar struck out 52 batters in 52 2/3 innings.
First runner-up–Tanner Esposito, Williamsport: Another player who built off a strong sophomore season, Esposito became one of the state’s premier pitchers and owned the big moments. Facing a difficult schedule, Esposito went 6-3 with a 1.54 ERA and allowed just 36 hits in 54 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .176 batting average. Esposito also struck out 54, but more impressive was how he shined in Williamsport’s biggest games. Esposito threw playoff shutouts against Delaware Valley and Scranton as Williamsport captured its first district championship since 2011. He then allowed just an earned run in 5 2/3 innings against Perkiomen Valley in states, running his postseason scoreless streak to 26 2/3 innings the past two seasons. During that time, the first team Central Penn League all-star has allowed just two playoff runs and eight hits in four playoff starts.
And the winner is…Andrew Malone, Loyalsock: Like Esposito, Malone was at his best when the pressure was highest and put together the best performance of his outstanding scholastic career. The senior left-hander repeatedly showed why he will pitch for Division I Mount St. Mary’s next spring, going 10-0, leading the area in wins and compiling a 1.20 ERA. Malone was dominant the last two seasons and struck out 55 in 58 1/3 innings while going 3-0 in the postseason. A key member of a state champion and three district champions, Malone threw two district playoff shutouts and beat two SEC-bound pitchers in the postseason. He threw a two-hit shutout against Mount Carmel in the quarterfinals and a three-hit shutout against 19-win Central Columbia in the finals. Loyalsock has had a long line of excellent pitchers and Malone kept that tradition going strong.
Player of the Year
Second runners-up–Jesse Cornell, Williamsport and Brycen Mussina, Montoursville: While Esposito anchored the pitching staff for the District 2-4 Class 6A champions, Cornell powered the offense. The senior second baseman developed into a standout lead-off hitter, batting .425 with 13 extra-base hits, 22 runs and eight stolen bases. Cornell belted an area-best six triples, drove in 14 runs and hit safely in 17 of 20 games while earning first team CPL honors. Mussina also closed out a fantastic scholastic career with gusto. The senior played four different positions and made no errors. He earned first-team HAC-II honors at a third different position in three years, leading Montoursville in hitting at .351 while compiling a .500 on-base percentage. Mussina also helped fortify a strong pitching staff, allowing just one run and five hits in 12 innings against playoff qualifiers Jersey Shore, North Penn-Mansfield and Hughesville.
First runner-up–Andrew Malone, Loyalsock: Oh yeah, Malone can field and hit, too. An excellent first baseman who displayed big-time range, Malone several times made great plays that turned potential errors into outs. An effective clean-up hitter, Malone hit .373 and compiled a .430 on-base percentage. The four-year starter hit two home runs, drove in 20 runs and scored 17 more despite often being ran for when he was pitching. Malone was as clutch offensively as he was on the mound, hitting .444 with runners in scoring position. In a midseason win against Montoursville, Malone threw five innings of one-hit baseball and went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, showcasing all his strengths.
And the winner is…Larry Van Stavoren, Loyalsock: Van Stavoren will not be playing college baseball and that probably has several schools sighing because the senior left fielder was sensational in his senior season. Whatever Loyalsock needed, Van Stavoren provided as he helped it again reach the state semifinals. A dynamic lead-off hitter, Van Stavoren hit an area-best .500 and also led the area in on-base percentage at .633. A constant presence at the plate and on the bases, Van Stavoren stole 16 bases, hit seven doubles, tripled, scored 24 runs and added 13 RBIs. He also was a consistent clutch performer, hitting a whopping .591 with runners in scoring position. But the four-year starter who helped Loyalsock capture the 2014 state championship was much more than just offense. Van Stavoren also was one of the area’s best left fielders, becoming a weapon who saved several hits with tremendous catches. Then there was Van Stavoren’s emergence on the mound. The right-hander solidified a quality staff and went 2-0 with two saves and a 0.00 ERA. Van Stavoren allowed just eight hits in 19 1/3 innings pitched, struck out 23 and threw a two-hit shutout against South Williamsport. Van Stavoren was at his best in the playoffs, hitting safely in every game, making no errors and throwing 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts. If this was Van Stavoren’s last year playing baseball he certainly made it one to remember.
Sun-Gazette Breakthrough Player of the Year
(a non-first team underclassman)
Second runner-up–Tripp Breen, South Williamsport and Jaxon Dalena, Montoursville: Breen established himself as a strong pitcher for the present and future. The sophomore right-hander went 3-5 but the record is deceiving as he suffered from a lack of run support and lost two 1-0 games, including one in which he threw a one-hit complete-game. Breen compiled a 2.10 ERA struck out 48 in 50 innings and added a save. He also slowed down Marian Catholic in the state tournament and allowed just four hits in his two complete-games. Dalena made an immediate impact in his debut high school season. The freshman infielder joined with fellow freshman Logan Ott to give Montoursville reason for optimism the next few years. He came on strong down the stretch, hitting .303 and totaling a .477 on-base percentage. Dalena was second on the team with 12 RBIs and scored 10 runs.
First runner-up–Brayden Strouse, Montgomery: The versatile sophomore did a bit of everything to help Montgomery make a four-win improvement and capture the Mid-Penn championship. Strouse provided strong infield defense, making just two errors, and hit .373 with a .458 on-base percentage. He also had a team-high 17 RBIs and scored seven runs. Strouse was just as tough on the mound, going 4-2 with a 1.62 ERA. The right-hander helped a team with no seniors go 13-4 and struck out 36 in 26 innings while allowing 18 hits.
And the winner is…Jacob Corson, Hughesville: Speaking of young players doing big things for young teams, Corson was a big reason Hughesville survived a big graduation hit and continued thriving. The talented freshman made a sudden impact, helping Hughesville rally from a 1-3 start to reach the postseason for a 10th straight season while laying a good foundation for future success. Corson hit .296 with with a .342 on-base percentage and also added 10 RBIs and 13 runs. Corson became Hughesville’s No. 1 pitcher and handled that spotlight well. He went 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA and threw a complete-game 3-hitter in a midseason win over what was a surging Southern Columbia team.
Other Players to Watch in 2018: Colby Alpaugh, Muncy; Gage Anzulavich, Warrior Run; Dylan Bower, Montoursville; Austyn Carson, Central Mountain; Jaiden Cioffi, Neumann; Carson Davis, Wellsboro; Jensen Drick, Montgomery; Joe Fagnano, Williamsport; Hunter Finn, South Williamsport; Mac Griswold, Jersey Shore; Adam Helminiak, Neumann; Ryan Jolin, Williamsport; Christian Kemp, Cowanesque Valley; Billy Lechler, Wellsboro; Trevor Miller, Montgomery; Logan Ott, Montoursville; Koby Peacock, Jersey Shore; Nick Shedleski, Lewisburg; Cody Shimp, Williamsport; Jared Stroup, Hughesville; Connor Watkins, Loyalsock.
STARTING LINE UP
1. Larry Van Stavoren, OF, Loyalsock
2. Jesse Cornell, IF, Williamsport
3. Noah Showers, IF, Warrior Run (.476, .602 obp, 3 HR, 2 3B, 8 2B, 30 RBIs, 24 R, .810 slugging)
4. Hunter Webb, OF, Loyalsock (.451, .545 obp, 4 HR, 2 3B, 5 2B, 16 RBIs, 25 R, 7 SB, .467 risp)
5. J.P. Shaw, IF, N.P.-Mansfield (.409, .588 obp, 2 HR, 5 2B, 15 RBIs, 27 R, .984 fielding)
6. Asher Corl, C, Central Mountain (.443, .535 obp, 20 RBIs, 10 R, 19-game hitting streak, hit safely in 20 of 21 games, nine multi-hit games, threw out 56 percent of base-stealers)
7. Quentin Brown, OF, Williamsport (.400, .479 obp, 4 2B, 14 RBIs, 19 R, one error, first team CPL)
8. Brycen Mussina, IF, Montoursville
9. Brayton Rowello, DH, Warrior Run (.437, .506 obp, 2 HR, 4 2B, 16 RBIs, 28 R)
Andrew Malone, Loyalsock; Tanner Esposito, Williamsport; Timmy Saar, Jersey Shore; Ethan Watkins, Central Mountain (3-3, 1.40 ERA, 60 IP, 46 H, 48 Ks, .215 oba); Aaron Hoover, P, Lewisburg (4-3, 1.83 ERA, 57 1/3 IP, 32 Ks, two-hit shutout vs Selinsgrove; complete-game wins over Loyalsock and Central).
Carl Dinger, North Penn-Mansfield (7-1, 2.12 ERA, 43 IP, 26 Ks); Johnny Rowland, Wellsboro (9-2, 3.64 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 46 H, 42 Ks); Calvin Lesser, Jersey Shore (4-1, 0.93 ERA, 37 2/3 IP, 21 H, 29 Ks, .152 oba); Tyler Askey, South Williamsport (4-2, 2 SVs, 2.06 ERA, 34 IP, 29 H, 36 Ks); Gage Yohn, Montgomery (5-2, 1.62 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 37 H, 33 Ks); Logan Edmonds, Loyalsock (4-1, SV, 2.79 ERA, 32 2/3 IP, 42 Ks, 23 H, 1.16 WHIP, 10 state playoff innings, no runs, 17 Ks).
Daimeer Clark, IF, St. John Neumann (.481, 3 HR, 3B, 6 2B, 18 RBIs, 19 R); Brandon DePasqua, IF, Jersey Shore (.354, .417 obp, HR, 3B, 7 2B, 12 RBIs, 10 R, just one error, first team HAC-I); Aaron Guerrisky, OF, South (.397, .461 obp, 7 RBIs, 12 R, no errors); Ryan McClain, IF, Hughesville (.338, .462 obp, 6 2B, 13 RBIs, 23 R, seven-game hitting streak, 11 SB); Eithan Marino, IF, Montgomery (.475, .553 obp, 6 2B, 14 RBIs, 16 R); Takoda Moyer, OF, Muncy (.500, .551 obp, HR, 14 RBI, 17 R, 14 SB, .964 fielding); Dalton Prough, IF, Wellsboro (.392, .495 obp, 7 2B, 12 RBIs, 22 R, 8 SB, .962 fielding); Sam Rosevear, OF, Lewisburg (.310, .390 obp, 9 2B, 3 3B, 15 RBIs, 15 R, season-ending 9-game hit streak, 7 SB, no errors); Jared Snyder, C, Hughesville (.344, .408 obp, caught 44 percent of base stealers); Elliott Walker, OF, Williamsport (.355, .459 obp, 11 RBI, 24 R, 8 SB, 1st team CPL); Dylan Williamson, C, North Penn-Mansfield (.383, .451 obp, 5 2B, 22 RBIs, 12 R, at least one RBI in 14 of 20 games, .988 fielding).
• Vincent Bender, OF, Warrior Run (.423, .456 obp, 6 2B, 21 RBIs, 20 R)
• Hunter Budman, OF, Montgomery (.409, .500 obp, 4 2B, 9 RBIs, 14 R, 10 SB, 12-game hitting streak)
• Jaiden Cioffi, IF, Neumann (.476, 30 H, 2 HR, 6 2B, 18 RBIs, 22 R)
• Brendan Hill, IF, Mansfield (.387, .457 obp, 20 R, 10 RBIs, 15 SB, 2 Es)
• Eric Holz, C, Loyalsock (.295, .338 obp, 2 HR, 18 RBIs, .571 risp)
• Owen Kiess, IF, Montoursville (.344, 19 R, 12 RBIs, 8 2B, 11 SB)
• Jack Marrara, IF, Lewisburg (.343, .452 obp, 22 R, 7 RBIs, 10 SB, .967 fielding)
• Brandon Miller, OF, Central Mountain (.338, .456 obp, 10 2B, 12 RBIs, 21 R, 13 SB)
• Nolan Ott, C, Montoursville (17 assists)
• Nate Paisley, IF, Muncy (.453, .517 obp, HR, 5 2B, 2 3B, 6 RBIs, 24 R, 14-game hitting streak, 13 SB)
• Dylan Wesneski, OF, Mansfield (.378, .463 obp, 5 2B, 14 RBIs, 15 R, 8 SB, one error)