• Val T.

Spin rates high: Caston junior named RTC player of the year

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Joey Spin isn’t Shohei Ohtani – yet.

But in terms of helping out his team in as many ways as possible – hitting, pitching, fielding and baserunning – he did the most, and as a result, the Caston junior is the first ever RTC baseball player of the year.

This caps a high school baseball season in the area in which Rochester won a sectional title and Winamac and Pioneer shared conference titles.

Though the 2020 season was lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, players did not come back rusty or ill-prepared to play. Instead, travel teams became even more popular, and by the time practice started in March and players were ready to end their interminable travel season and were eager to start the high school season.

What we saw were more good freshman and sophomore players ready to compete at the varsity level and fewer easy outs in each lineup.

And though it almost goes without saying, home runs are not nearly as big a part of high school baseball as they are in high school softball. So teams have to string together rallies and use their running game strategically.

If you wait around for the long ball, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.

Lastly, this was a year of great tragedy after the death of Brendyn Stump on May 17. Our condolences go out to the Stump family and the Tippecanoe Valley community.

On that note, we now present the first All-RTC baseball team.

As always, though our conversations with coaches throughout the season helped give us some insight, the decisions regarding who made the team are ours and ours alone, and we take full responsibility.

First team

Pitchers

Joey Spin (Caston) – Spin was Caston’s best hitter (.550 batting average), best baserunner (24 stolen bases in 25 attempts) and pitcher (3.46 ERA). Until their losing streak to close out the season, he was the main reason they stayed in the Hoosier North race.

Owen Kirchenstien (Tippecanoe Valley) – Kirchenstien dominated all year – a 0.35 ERA, a .149 batting average against and no homers allowed. On a Valley team rich with pitching talent, he was their ace.

Brayden Erickson (Pioneer) – Erickson was aggressive and confident with his stuff, which is very unusual for a freshman. His fastball-curve ball combination was a simple yet effective repertoire.

Catchers

Annikan Pettit (Tippecanoe Valley) – A sophomore, Pettit had a .394 batting average and also hit three of the team’s six homers. He walked (15) more times than he struck out (12). He was also adept at handling a young, deep pitching staff.

Tyler Perry (Winamac) – Confident backstop hit .383 for the Warriors.

Wyatt Zeider (Pioneer) – Zeider was a strong senior leader who helped guide an inexperienced pitching staff.

Infielders

Brock Beehler (Rochester) – As the season progressed, Beehler played less in the infield and more on the mound, and he wound up starting three of Rochester’s four state tournament games at pitcher. But he also had a sterling year at the plate, hitting .356 and driving in 27 runs.

Hunter Klepinger (Pioneer) – Klepinger had more clutch hits than just about anybody in the area. He had a calm demeanor in the clutch, whether at the plate or on the mound.

Tarick McGlothin (Rochester) – McGlothin always seemed to have a good idea of how the opponent wanted to pitch him, and he could adjust accordingly and hit to all fields. He also had a good batting eye and good speed, which made him a fit in the leadoff spot in the Zebra batting order.

Caleb Good (Winamac) – Good hit .440 with 11 extra-base hits and sparked the line Warrior lineup.

Kade Zeider (Caston) – Zeider was an excellent defensive shortstop, and we also wanted to give him bonus points for his control on the mound – just seven walks in 57 innings.

Caleb Sweet (Pioneer) – Sweet is a very good contact hitter. Coach Josh Hardy put him in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, and he often set up Wyatt Zeider and Klepinger.

D.J. Estep (Tippecanoe Valley) – Estep led Valley with 11 extra-base hits and was the team’s second best hitter after Pettit while holding his own at third base.

Outfielders

Caleb Seymour (Winamac) – Seymour led all area players in RBIs with 39, and he also hit .560. He was also an effective left-handed pitcher for the Warriors.

Kyle Reinartz (Rochester) – Reinartz had not hit for much power as a freshman and sophomore, but he clubbed 12 extra-base hits – four doubles, four triples, four homers – and hit .313. He also was consistently clutch, driving in 33 runs. He also went 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA on the mound.

Russell Compton (Winamac) – Compton hit .444 out of the leadoff spot in the batting order and was also second on the team with 10 extra-base hits. He was also Winamac’s No. 2 pitcher.

Hayden Clark (Winamac) – Clark was a tough competitor and team leader who hit .424 and played a very good center field.

Carter See (Caston) – See’s batting average (.267) might not be eye-popping, but throw in 25 walks and six hit-by-pitches, and now you have a .516 on-base percentage, and when you throw in good defense in center field defense, you have a very valuable player.

Payton Mills (Tippecanoe Valley) – Mills probably became familiar with an ice pack during the season as he was hit by 15 pitches in 23 games. But it helped prop up a .500 on-base percentage and be a pillar of Valley’s lineup.

Evan Elliott (Rochester) – Elliott is a super utility man who also played a lot of third base and shortstop, but his .404 batting average and 20 RBIs can play for anybody anywhere.

Honorable mention

Quin Stesiak (Rochester), Sam Smith (Caston), Tyler Gaumer (Pioneer), Hunter Craft (Tippecanoe Valley), Noah Pearson (Pioneer), Paxton Wallace (Winamac), Jessie Rock-Wolf (Caston), Dylan Kindig (Argos), Owen Mersch (Pioneer), Jackson Rentschler (Caston), Daniel Reyes (Pioneer), Marcus Bernicky (Tippecanoe Valley), Adam Rush (Caston), Grant McCarter (Rochester), Mitchell Bonnell (Winamac)


RTC baseball Player of the Year Joey Spin


Hayden Clark Evan Elliott Brayden Erikson Brock Beehler

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