All apologies to former South Medford standout Matt Retzlaff, who failed to get the recognition he was due last week after it was, in fact, his...
At first glance, Cody Coggins is a young man of mystery.
His Cascade Christian baseball jersey has the wrong number and no last name.
He's lived in Alaska, California and Oregon, and he's been spotted all over the diamond: shortstop, pitcher, catcher.
The sophomore standout could live off the grid — the only problem is, his swing gives him away every time.
And the Challengers are certainly glad he's not on the run.
The 17-year-old ballplayer has been a major contributor for the defending Class 3A state champions this season. Coggins leads the squad with a .537 batting average, 36 hits, 38 runs scored and 21 RBIs.
"Cody being a sophomore, it is really kind of surprising just how fundamentally sound he is," senior teammate Daniel Scottow says. "But he loves to compete, he is very intense — he is kind of like coach (John) Bruce if he were a little younger. His swing is fantastic, his pitching is on point and his fielding skills are just really good. It's just really nice to have an underclassman who gets what baseball is all about. With him at the helm, the future of Cascade Christian baseball is bright."
Just as important as his production has been his versatility. Normally a shortstop, Coggins helped to fill in at the catcher position as teammate Tristan Jones healed up after suffering a major knee injury during football season. The right-hander (who bats left-handed) is also 4-0 on the mound.
Cascade Christian was in desperate need of a catcher early this season with Jones out and backup Josh Brite hurting with a torn labrum. Bruce, last year's 3A state coach of the year, looked to Coggins and Cooper Clark to take over.
"Cody said, 'I'll do whatever I can,'" Bruce recalls.
Says Coggins: "I'm willing to step in and do anything. I want to win first and foremost."
Now Jones and Brite are back into the swing of things and Coggins is returning to his normal duties. That's been a big plus for the Challengers (18-4), who captured their third straight Southern Cascade Hybrid title on Tuesday.
Coggins says he is excited to make another run at a crown with four regular-season games remaining.
"I'll never forget that experience and I really want another one this year," he says. "I love wearing my ring around. That's an achievement. That is something I have worked for for a long time."
A very long time.
Coggins was born in Soldotna, Alaska, and has also lived in Corvallis and San Diego. He began swinging for the fences when he was 4 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the Medford National Little League.
"I played mostly first base and pitched a lot, probably because I didn't like to take groundballs," Coggins recalls. "Now that is my favorite thing."
Coggins says he benefited greatly as a pitcher from working during the offseason with former North Medford standout Cole Rohrbough at America's Best Kids Athletic Edge, an indoor baseball facility behind Lava Lanes.
Coggins has also valued the advice of his father Bryan, who was a three-sport high school standout in Naples, Fla. Coggins wrote "Mental toughness, focus and discipline" — something Bryan once told him — under the bill of his ballcap.
As for Coggins' jersey? He's normally No. 9, but wears No. 24 because of an ordering mistake.
Coggins is clearing up any confusion by making a name for himself.
"He is one of the best hitters in the valley," Bruce says.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org