Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
If it was to be Crater's final baseball season at the state's highest classification, the Comets made it count.
After claiming its first large-school conference title since a three-way tie for first place 17 years ago, the Comets reaped the postseason rewards for one of their finest seasons by sweeping the top honors in voting for the Class 6A Southern Oregon Hybrid all-conference team.
Crater senior Ty Fox was voted pitcher of the year and senior teammate Taylor Tibbets was named player of the year in voting done by the SOH coaches. Jay Campbell was named SOH coach of the year after guiding Crater to a 23-7 overall record and the No. 1 spot in the state's 6A power ranking and coaches' poll.
The Comets will be returning to the 5A level this fall, where Crater won its last conference title in 2007 and was the 5A state champion in that same season.
Fox had an outstanding season, going 7-1 on the mound with three saves and a 0.99 ERA while also sharing time at third base. The Western Oregon-bound senior hit .305 overall with 13 runs and 14 RBIs. He struck out 59 and walked 20 in 562/3 innings, going 4-0 in league play with a win over each team to go with two saves and a 0.94 ERA.
Tibbets provided a clutch bat all season in the cleanup spot, hitting a team-best seven home runs to go with a .357 league batting average (.340 overall), eight doubles, 22 runs and 25 RBIs.
"It's nice for the kids to get recognized in such a tough league," said Campbell. "I thought both of those kids were very well-deserving. Ty had a great season and it was nice for him to get recognized as the top pitcher in the league and Taylor Tibbets had a tremendous year offensively. He was a guy that batted in the middle of our lineup and always came through with a big hit when he needed it."
For his honor, Campbell said it meant the most to him that his peers chose to recognize him in a league loaded with quality coaches.
"It's just a testament to the coaches I have around me and having good kids and them being able to listen and just get better," said Campbell.
Crater landed six players overall on the SOH first team, with Fox and Tibbets joined by senior pitcher Nolan Bastendorff, senior catcher Tyler Aplin, senior second baseman Ty Plankenhorn and senior left fielder Blake Fahndrich.
Bastendorff sported a 7-3 overall record and 1.20 ERA, with 55 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 581/3 innings. Aplin hit .364 in SOH play (.290 overall) with 21 runs and 15 RBIs, with Plankenhorn (.361 overall, 12 runs, 14 RBIs) and Fahndrich (.353 overall, 19 runs, 22 RBIs) also as key contributors.
North Medford, which won the 6A state championship over Sheldon on Saturday, also placed six players on the all-SOH first team. Junior Colton Westfall and senior David Crofton made it as pitchers, along with senior Austin Zavala (catcher), senior Micah Brown (infield), junior Josh Berman (infield) and senior Christian Gillis (outfield).
Westfall was the winning pitcher in the state title game to improve his overall record to 13-2, with 97 strikeouts, 43 walks and a 1.58 ERA in 84 innings. Crofton went 8-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 61 strikeouts against 12 walks in 55 innings.
Brown led the Tornado with a .462 batting average to go with 36 runs and 31 RBIs, while Berman hit .349 with 11 runs and 19 RBIs. Gillis hit .300 with 33 runs in the leadoff spot, while Zavala hit .300 with 29 runs and 14 RBIs.
South Medford seniors Brandon Lupton (infield) and Jimmy Sporer (outfield) also were named to the first team. Sporer was a repeat first-teamer after hitting .432 with 35 runs and 13 RBIs in the leadoff spot for the Panthers, while Lupton started slow after coming off the basketball season but hit .357 in SOH play (.275 overall) with eight runs and 11 RBIs.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR — Ty Fox, Crater.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Taylor Tibbets, Crater.
COACH OF THE YEAR — Jay Campbell, Crater.
PITCHER — Ty Fox, Sr., Crater; Colton Westfall, Jr., North Medford; David Crofton, Sr., North Medford; Nolan Bastendorff, Sr., Crater.
CATCHER — Tyler Aplin, Sr., Crater; Austin Zavala, Sr., North Medford.
INFIELD — Brandon Lupton, Sr., South Medford; Ty Plankenhorn, Sr., Crater; Micah Brown, Sr., North Medford; Josh Berman, Jr., North Medford.
FIRST BASE — Taylor Tibbets, Sr., Crater; Cody Ekwall, So., Grants Pass.
OUTFIELD — Layne Westwang, Sr., Roseburg; Jimmy Sporer, Sr., South Medford; Blake Fahndrich, Sr., Crater; Christian Gillis, Sr., North Medford.
UTILITY — Cameron Mathews, Sr., Grants Pass.
PITCHER — Caleb Newman, Sr., South Medford; Brady Haskett, Sr., Roseburg; Dylan Pearce, Jr., Crater.
CATCHER — David Irvine, Jr., Roseburg.
INFIELD — Cole Carder, So., South Medford; Zach Lathrop, Sr., Crater.
FIRST BASE — Brady Fuller, Sr., Roseburg.
OUTFIELD — Jake Perry, Sr., South Medford; Tanner Ryerson, Sr., Crater; Jared Evans, Jr., North Medford; Paul Turner, Sr., Crater.
UTILITY — Ryan Carle, Jr., South Medford.
PITCHER — Jordan Ragan, Jr., North Medford.
CATCHER — Austin White, Sr., South Medford.
UTILITY — Jordan Pond, Sr., North Medford.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry