Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Five members of the Class 3A state champion Cascade Christian baseball team received all-state recognition and head coach John Bruce was given state coach of the year honors recently.
The Challengers, who beat Santiam Christian 5-3 in the state championship game last Friday, won the Southern Cascade Hybrid title and finished 24-7.
"We had a great experience," Bruce said of the title game in Keizer. "It was a good game and we had a lot of fun."
Sophomore pitcher Isaiah Luzny and senior utility player Josh Brite made the state second-team list, while senior outfielder Jake Miller earned a spot on the third team and senior first baseman Justin Cheney and senior infielder Andrew Sha received honorable mention recognition.
Luzny, a left-hander, finished the year 10-1 and picked up the win in the state championship after throwing the final 11/3 innings. He pitched 141/3 shutout innings in the postseason and entered the title game with a 0.64 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.
Luzny led the team in batting average (.440) and RBIs (22).
Brite owned a .429 batting average with 12 RBIs while playing the catcher, designated hitter and outfield positions.
This was Bruce's 10th year as the head coach at Cascade Christian. He taught at the school for 15 years. Prior to that, Bruce coached at South Medford, Medford, Rogue River and Salem Academy. Earlier in his coaching career, he worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona and as a pitching coach at Willamette University.
As for receiving his coaching honor?
"They snuck it on me," Bruce said of his fellow coaches with a laugh.
Other local players who earned state honors were Rogue River senior utility player Brian Stinchcomb, the Southern Cascade Hybrid player of the year and a second-team state pick.
St. Mary's junior catcher Daniel Seus and Rogue River senior infielder Michael Freitas were named to the third team, and Illinois Valley senior outfielder Fred Hults made the honorable mention list.
Santiam Christian's Jeff Hendrix and Burns' Nolan Stampke were the co-players of the year in the 3A state voting.