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Foster finds right balance for Crater

Brent Foster's evolution in baseball this past year has been meteoric.

As a sophomore at Crater last season, Foster hit .268 with 13 RBIs and two homers in Southern Oregon Conference play. For his efforts, Foster earned first-team all-conference as a utility player and honorable mention as an infielder.

In his junior campaign, Foster practically doubled his output -- as well as his responsibilities -- in helping the Comets finish second in the SOC. The sweet-swinging lefty posted league-high numbers in hitting (.537), RBIs (25) and home runs (6), while also posting a 4-2 record and 2.88 ERA in his first varsity season on the mound.

That improvement helped Foster earn co-player of the year honors in the SOC, along with Roseburg senior Richie Charles.

I had a lot more confidence this year, the 17-year-old says of his growth from a year ago. I knew I belonged up there hitting, pitching or fielding. I was just a lot more comfortable.

Foster says his improved confidence stemmed from a productive summer season with the Medford Mustangs, when he hit above .400.

That's where I came into my own, he says. I expected to do the same things this season.

Crater coach Chuck Dominiak says he had similar expectations for Foster, especially considering the third baseman's work ethic. Dominiak says he credits Foster's desire to improve, whether at winter workouts or spring workouts, as the key to the junior's coming of age.

I even remember him coming in when he was in the fifth grade, the coach says. the time he got to high school, his form was really developed. He put the time in and had some instruction to go with it. It's just been a matter of refining it, and he does that on his own.

That type of work ethic is one characteristic of most Crater players, and not surprisingly translated into the team's No. — ranking earlier this season and a 24-3 overall record after Tuesday's state playoff win.

They all have a lot of pride in themselves, Dominiak says. They want to be as successful as they can, and Brent's no exception. That expression of keep working hard and good things happen to good people, he's a good example of that.

Foster is also a prime example of balance considering his 3.8 GPA and all-around athletic prowess. Besides leading the Comets on the diamond, Foster was Crater's starting quarterback in football this past season and played guard on the basketball team.

It makes me a better all-around athlete, the 6-foot-3, 185 pounder says of his year-round activity. There are all kinds of different pressures and situations in football, basketball and baseball. They all make you better.

It's different when you're sitting at the foul line and you have to drain a couple shots or when you're on the 2-yard line and you have to audible and find a way to get your team in the end zone.

As challenging as those situations may be, Foster says nothing compares to baseball.

It takes skill to hit a jump shot, but I think by far hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do, he says. To hit it square and get a base hit with a round ball and a round bat, that's tough.

Making it even more difficult this season has been Foster's role as Crater's No. 2 pitcher behind junior Casey Campbell.

To have to hit and focus on third base in the first game and then pitch in the second game at a level that I've never pitched at, it's tough, he says, adding that hitting comes more natural than pitching. I've had to focus more on pitching than hitting, but I'm glad both have come through. It hasn't been that easy.

Foster didn't have to go far for assistance in making the transition, with Campbell posting a 6-1 record and 1.60 ERA in SOC play this past season.

It helps to watch Casey throw and watch the pitches he throws, Foster says. Then I learn what the guys hit and what they don't hit.

That's not to say Foster hasn't had his pitching setbacks. South Medford stunned Foster with seven first-inning runs and held on to send Crater to its first loss of the season (14-13). Foster says that experience taught him a good lesson on the need to focus at all times.

Making it increasingly difficult is the need to separate the mentalities of pitching and hitting.

When you're hitting, you want to think like a pitcher and that's not good, Foster says. You get up there and start thinking what would I throw if I was pitching. Then you're thinking offspeed and the pitcher throws you one right down the middle and you're just standing there for strike three thinking `Oh, God, what did I do.'

You just have to go up there with a clear mind thinking that you're going to hit it if it's in the zone.

Being able to accomplish just that helped Charles of Roseburg share the co-player of the year honor. Crater fans should remember Charles well considering the senior catcher smashed three home runs and registered nine RBIs in helping the Indians sweep the Comets.

He only hit five homers all season and three of those came against us, Dominiak says in disbelief. I won't miss seeing him.''

Roseburg coach Ron Goodell, however, says he will miss not having Charles behind the plate next season.

He's our inspirational leader, the SOC coach of the year says. He's the backbone of the team emotionally as well as how he can play on the field. He gets us going. Even when he's in the dugout he can get us going.

1999 SOC baseball all-stars

— — FIRST TEAM — — Player, School, — Year — Avg. — RBI — HR — OBP — SB — — — C -- Richie Charles, — Roseburg, sr. — .513 — 17 — 5 — .635 — 0 — — — C -- Jason Brownell, North Medford, sr. — — .300 — 13 — 2 — .429 — 0 — — — 1B -- Colby Gonzales, North Medford, — jr. — .419 — 13 — 1 — .519 — 1 — — — INF -- Brent Foster, Crater, jr. — .537 — 25 — 6 — .691 — 3 — — — INF -- Steve DeClerck, North Medford, — sr. — .511 — 20 — 2 — .566 — 10 — — — INF -- Kevin Linderman, Roseburg, jr. — — .375 — 17 — 1 — .426 — 1 — — — OF -- P.J. Pardee, Crater, sr. — .500 — 13 — 0 — .524 — 7 — — — OF -- Ryan Morrison, Roseburg, sr. — — .318 — 15 — 1 — .360 — 3 — — — OF -- Mike Newmann, Eagle Point, sr. — — .405 — 9 — 4 — .545 — 5 — — — UTL -- Jason Anderson, Grants Pass, sr. — — .405 — 19 — 3 — .463 — 1 — — — Pitchers — — IP — W-L — ERA — SO — BB — — — Casey Campbell, Crater, jr. — 48 — 6-1 — 1.60 — 54 — 8 — — — Mike Sammis, Grants Pass, jr. — 40 2/3 — 3-3 — 2.65 — 61 — 23 — — — Thys Kuitert, Roseburg, sr. — 37 — 5-0 — 3.59 — 39 — 26 — — — Jarred Pagnini, North Medford, sr. — — 32 2/3 — 5-1 — 3.01 — 45 — 8 — — — SECOND TEAM — — Player, — School, Year — Avg. — RBI — HR — OBP — SB — — — C -- Josh Hinojosa, Crater, jr. — .429 — 3 — 0 — .630 — 0 — — — C -- Jason Mortenson, Klamath Union, — so. — .323 — 15 — 0 — .427 — 0 — — — 1B -- Casey Campbell, Crater, jr. — — .362 — 13 — 3 — .694 — 2 — — — INF -- Craig Knight, Crater, sr. — .422 — 17 — 4 — .536 — 6 — — — INF -- Jason Korthals, Crater, sr. — — .489 — 10 — 0 — .554 — 7 — — — INF -- Nate Mayben, North Medford, jr. — — .489 — 12 — 1 — .596 — 10 — — — OF -- Jeff Traviss, Roseburg, sr. — — .348 — 6 — 0 — .474 — 4 — — — OF -- Cory Restvedt, Grants Pass, sr. — — .419 — 8 — 1 — .485 — 8 — — — OF -- Ken Halpin, North Medford, jr. — — .350 — 13 — 2 — .422 — 7 — — — OF -- Thys Kuitert, Roseburg, sr. — — .404 — 19 — 0 — .382 — 0 — — — UTL -- Jason Korthals, Crater, sr. — — .489 — 10 — 0 — .554 — 7 — — — Pitchers — IP — W-L — ERA — SO — BB — — — Brent Foster, Crater, jr. — 34 1/3 — 4-2 — 2.88 — 28 — 1 — — — Mike Newmann, Eagle Point, sr. — 33 2/3 — 4-2 — 2.08 — 24 — 13 — — — Graham Foster, South Medford, sr. — — 43 1/3 — 4-3 — 2.58 — 38 — 16 — — — Nate Mayben, North Medford, jr. — 34 1/3 — 4-1 — 4.08 — 30 — 28 — — —

HONORABLE MENTION

CATCHER -- Chuck Shine, South Medford, jr.

FIRST BASE -- Nick Newmann, Eagle Point, jr.; Josh Tompkins, South Medford, jr.

INFIELD -- Brett Haag, South Medford, jr.; Jimmie Maddox, South Medford, so.; J.J. Wolford, Roseburg, sr.; Matt Major, Grants Pass, jr.

OUTFIELD -- Ryan Bock, South Medford, sr.; Ken Strate, Crater, so.; Justin Whisenhunt, Eagle Point, jr.

UTILITY -- Ryan Heil, South Medford, fr.

PITCHERS -- Nick Newmann, Eagle Point, jr.; Jed Brewer, Roseburg, sr.

PLAYERS OF THE YEAR -- Richie Charles, Roseburg, and Brent Foster, Crater.

COACH OF THE YEAR -- Ron Goodell, Roseburg.