Here’s a closer look at the 2015 Enquirer All-Area Baseball Team, as selected by area coaches and the Enquirer sports staff:
Rivera was a do-everything player in his standout junior season, helping the Indians any way he could as they competed in a perennially strong Big Eight Conference.
Rivera finished the season hitting .425 with three home runs, two triples and nine doubles while scoring 28 runs and stealing 28 bases.
“Braxton was our team MVP, leading our team in nearly every offensive category, as well as playing multiple positions on the infield,” said Athens coach Lucky Smith. “Braxton is a genuine leader, always hard working, reliable and maintains a solid 3.7-plus GPA.”
Waterbury was the catalyst for a young Bellevue team, leading the Broncos at the plate and on the infield.
The junior shortstop finished the season batting .478 with a .551 on base percentage to go with 21 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.
“Garrett led our team in nearly every statistical category and played great defensively at shortstop for us,” said Bellevue coach Jay Magro. “He leads by example and has a bright future.”
A big part of Climax-Scott’s co-league, district and regional championships, Campbell brought some power to the lineup and gave the Panthers a reliable backstop.
The senior catcher hit .456 with 27 RBIs and one home run, and made several big plays against stiff competition at the regional tournament.
“His improvement this year behind the dish and at the plate was impressive and key to our season,” said Climax-Scotts coach Kevin Langs. “He was the big stick in our lineup that provided some ‘pop.'”
Haynes helped Climax-Scotts in a variety of ways as the Panthers claimed co-league, district and regional championships in 2015.
The junior infielder/pitcher earned Division 4 honorable mention All-State status after hitting .568 with 37 RBIs while also stealing 28 bases in 29 attempts.
“Brandon has an incredible love for the game,” said Climax-Scotts coach Kevin Langs. “His ability to play shortstop and get dirty was a key part of our success this year. Real proud of his gutsy performance on the mound in the quarterfinal game.”
Vosburg capped off an outstanding four-year varsity career by leading Climax-Scotts to the Division 4 state quarterfinals.
The senior infielder/pitcher was named first team All-State and was co-MVP of the Southern Central Athletic Association after hitting .457 with 37 RBIs and two home runs while going 7-1 on the mound with a 1.78 ERA.
“Ethan (has) versatility on the mound, in the field and with the bat,” said Climax-Scotts coach Kevin Langs. “His big-game leadership on the mound when we were blessed to beat No. 6-ranked Frankfort and No. 4-ranked Concord was invaluable. Ethan truly loves the game.”
Lewis was a big reason Coldwater had such a successful season in 2015, and why the Cardinals’ 2016 outlook is very promising.
The junior pitcher/infielder helped Coldwater win league and district titles by hitting .365 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 35 RBIs while also scoring 27 runs. On the bump, he was perfect at 7-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 47 1/3 innings.
“Brandon is a three-year starter who has carried a huge load for us this season,” said Coldwater coach Randy Spangler. “Pitching, first base, or third base — Brandon has done an admirable job in helping the Cards have great success. His desire to compete is very strong and his maturation has grown immensely this season. Brandon will continue to have great success in baseball.”
The spectacled Spangler was a standout on the diamond for Coldwater as the Cardinals matched the school record for wins in a season while also capturing league and district titles.
The junior infielder, who earned Academic All-State honors, finished the season batting .405 with 14 doubles, two triples and two home runs with 34 RBIs and 41 runs scored.
“Brendan is in his third season on the varsity and has played a major role in the success of the team this season,” said Coldwater coach Randy Spangler. “His runs scored and hits are all in the top five for season records. His defense is steady, always in the right spot to make a play along with quarterbacking the rest of the team on the field. His knowledge of the game has been a very useful tool for us.”
Linton gave Coldwater a steady presence both behind and at the plate.
The senior catcher/pitcher/outfielder carried several roles in helping the Cardinals match the school record for victories while winning league and district titles. He hit .351 with seven doubles, one home run and 16 RBIs while scoring 22 runs. On the mound he went 4-0 with six saves and a 1.24 ERA with 42 strikeouts and just five walks over 34 innings. He is committed to play at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
“Randall is one of our captains and has done a wonderful job of leading us, both on the field and off,” said Coldwater coach Randy Spangler. “His unique role for us as a catcher and a pitcher has made it tough on him, but he has met the challenge very well… His blocking and throwing ability have been very good… His grit and determination will be missed by the Coldwater baseball program.”
One of the top players in the state, Blakely showed why the national champion Virginia Cavaliers are so excited to have him on the team in a couple years.
The junior catcher earned a spot on the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Dream Team as well as first team All-State honors in Division 1 after hitting .448 with a school-record five triples to go with seven doubles, five home runs and 42 RBIs.
“Drew had a very good season,” said Gull Lake coach Bill Blakely. “He handled the bat very well and was able to minimize the running game of opposing teams. Our program looks forward to having him back next season.”
Burton was a long-ball threat every time he stepped to the plate while also giving Gull Lake a steady glove at first base.
The senior was tabbed to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Dream Team as well as the Division 1 All-State first team after he hit .408 with five home runs and 34 RBIs. He is committed to play at Central Michigan University.
“Jarod is a tireless worker who loves playing baseball,” said Gull Lake coach Bill Blakely. “His leadership in both words and actions made him an elite player in the history of Gull Lake baseball.”
Sitkiewicz finished off his four-year varsity career for perennial power Homer by leading the Trojans in several offensive categories.
The senior outfielder was selected to the Division 3 All-State first team and played in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association East/West All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit. In his final season for the Trojans, he batted .519 with 15 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 50 RBIs while scoring 40 runs. He is committed to play at Spring Arbor University.
“Nate capped off his outstanding four-year varsity career in tremendous fashion,” said Homer coach Scott Salow. “Nate led the team in batting average, hits and RBI. One of the most feared hitters in the area.”
Tompkins was a big part of Homer’s 26-win season, heating up at the plate and coming through with some clutch hits for the Trojans.
The senior outfielder hit .364 with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs and 33 RBIs while stealing 13 bases and scoring 29 runs.
“Gary was one of the hottest hitters in the area the second half of the season,” said Homer coach Scott Salow. “Among many of Gary’s season highlights, he had a walk-off home run against Jackson Northwest and a walk-off single against Hanover-Horton in the pre-district.”
One of the area’s top arms and hitters, Brighton led Maple Valley to 24 wins and the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference championship in the league’s inaugural season.
The senior lefty went 6-1 on the hill with a 0.77 ERA and an impressive 70 strikeouts over 45 2/3 innings. With the bat, he hit .422 with seven doubles, two triples and 19 RBIs. He is committed to play at Lansing Community College.
“Andrew is an all-around baseball player,” said Maple Valley coach Bryan Carpenter. “He lead us at the plate with a .422 average and was a shutdown pitcher on the mound with a 0.77 era in 45 2/3 innings pitched.”
Johnson fanned a lot of hitters in a season in which Maple Valley won 24 games and earned the first Greater Lansing Athletic Conference title in baseball.
The senior pitcher/catcher was named second team All-State in Division 3 after going 10-1 on the mound with a 1.11 ERA and a staggering 101 strikeouts over 63 1/3 innings. Offensively, he hit .329 with four doubles, one triple and 27 RBIs.
“Beau is a four-year starter for us who has had a great career,” said Maple Valley coach Bryan Carpenter. “He went 10-1 on the mound and was dominate with 101 K’s. He has been an anchor to our program on the mound and behind the plate.”
DeVine is as good as they come with the glove at shortstop, but contributed to Marshall’s 18-win season in a variety of ways.
The junior hit .385 with 10 doubles and 12 RBIs while also going 6-3 on the bump with a 1.60 ERA and 55 strikeouts over 47 innings of work. He has already verbally committed to play at Western Michigan University.
“Drew is what a shortstop should be defensively. His arm strength and footwork continue to improve because of his work ethic and it was a joy watching him compete this season,” said Marshall coach Trevor Kelly. “Offensively, he put together some impressive numbers — but more than that he got the big hit when we needed it consistently. Furthermore, on the mound he was dominant. His makeup, demeanor, and ability to throw strikes gave us a chance to win every time he took the mound.”
Reagle gave maximum effort and was stellar as Marshall’s table setter in the leadoff spot.
The junior catcher/outfielder helped the Redhawks to 18 wins thanks in part to a .350 batting average with 25 RBIs.
“Scott is a gamer and gives you his all when he’s between the lines,” said Marshall coach Trevor Kelly. “He is extremely valuable because he is willing and able to play any position on the field and play it well. Offensively, Scott led us in the top of the order by consistently getting on base, but also possesses the knack for driving in runs.”
Lloyd battled through an injury this season to become the catalyst on a Tekonsha team that won more than half its games.
The senior catcher showed grit by finishing with a .377 batting average and 20 stolen bases. He also posted a stellar .978 fielding percentage behind the dish while throwing out a third of stolen base attempts.
“Riley was the glue behind everything we did — both offensively and defensively,” said Tekonsha coach Lonnie Newland. “He was our most valuable defensive and offensive player — batting lead-off. Very smart and intelligent player, who has improved greatly. Very good numbers despite playing all season with a hernia, which obviously could effect his play at times and says a lot about his physical and mental toughness.”
Austin was tasked with carrying a bigger load in his senior season, and he was more than willing to take on the challenge.
Playing the corners at first and third base while also pitching, he hit .356 with four doubles and 26 RBIs while scoring 26 runs and stealing 20 bases. On the mound he went 6-5 with a 3.95 ERA and 55 strikeouts.
“Our team leader, without him we would have struggled,” said Union City coach John Bain. “Moved him to first base this year and he made some phenomenal plays that kept us in several games.”
Austin Cole, Zack Enyart, Sam Wheeler, Jacob Martin (Athens); Noah Roberts, Daniel McMichael (Bronson); Jordan Butler, Nick Shaw (Coldwater); Joshua Lyons (Delton Kellogg); Austyn Knapper, Wyatt Whitman (Gull Lake); Preston Sherman, Steve Salow, Brock Ridgeway (Homer); Jacob Brighton, Payton Rourke, Alex Hosmer, Gunner Tobias (Maple Valley); Alex Walton, Logan Austin (Marshall); Jake Rider (Quincy); Kenyon Stuchell (Union City).
Nick Buckley can be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley