Richland senior Mason Hilty and Hanford junior Isaac Benard shared the Mid-Columbia Conference player of the year honors for baseball in voting by the league’s coaches this week.
Benard was the run-away triple crown winner, hitting .541 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. His dinger total was Ruthian — one less than the other seven teams in the MCC combined. Benard also scored a league-high 29 runs.
Hilty, a pitcher and shortstop for the Bombers, was 4-1 on the mound with a 3.39 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings pitched. He also hit .446 with 25 RBIs to finish among the league leaders.
Both players will be in action in town Saturday at the Class 3A and 4A regionals. Hanford (12-9) takes on Kamiakin (12-10) in the 3A loser-out game at 10 a.m. at Roy Johnson Field, before Kennewick (18-3) and Southridge (15-6) play for the first berth to state at 1 p.m. The loser of that game plays the winner of the morning game at 4 p.m. for the second berth to state.
Richland (15-6) is hosting the 4A regional and faces Gonzaga Prep (20-1) at 1 p.m. in the battle of district No. 1s. The winner goes on to state, while the loser will play the winner of a 10 a.m. game between Walla Walla (7-14) and Mead (14-8) for the second state berth.
Hilty also first team at both pitcher and shortstop and was joined on the first team by fellow Bomber Nate Ruane (second base). Benard is the only Hanford player on the first team, which was dominated by Kennewick.
The Lions placed six on the first team: third baseman Clayten Ayres, catcher Dylan Wilbert, outfielders JJ Hancock, Kaden Julian and Steven Sordahl and pitcher Jarrod Molnaa. All that added up to A.J. Marquardt being named coach of the year.
Rounding out the first team are Southridge’s Grant Lathim (first base) and designated hitter Conner O’Neil, and Pasco junior Justus Scott at utility.
Players of the year: Mason Hilty, Richland, and Isaac Benard, Hanford.
Coach of the year: A.J. Marquardt, Kennewick
1B—Grant Lathim, sr., Southridge. 2B—Nate Ruane, sr., Richland. 3B—Clayten Ayres, sr., Kennewick. SS—Mason Hilty, sr., Richland. C—Dylan Wilbert, sr., Kennewick. OF—Isaac Benard, jr., Hanford; JJ Hancock, jr., Kennewick; Kaden Julian, sr., Kennewick; Steven Sordahl, jr., Kennewick. DH—Conner O’Neil, sr., Southridge. U—Justus Scott, jr., Pasco. SP—Jarrod Molnaa, sr., Kennewick; Mason Hilty, sr., Richland.
1B—Cody Kowalski, sr., Hanford. 2B—Larry Dewitt, jr., Kennewick. 3B—Conner Morfin, jr., Southridge. SS—Vince Gonzalez, sr., Kennewick. C—Tyler Kjarmo, jr., Richland; Aaron Enderlin, jr., Hanford. OF—Adison Spivey, sr., Southridge; Luis Murillo, sr., Pasco; Spencer Bennion, jr., Chiawana. DH—Austin Taylor, sr., Hanford. SP—Clayten Ayres, sr., Kennewick; Adam Mathews, jr., Walla Walla; David Marshall, jr., Kamiakin.
1B—Gibson McGeorge, jr., Richland. 2B—Cole Henderson, sr., Southridge. 3B—Anthony Porcaro, jr., Hanford. OF—Garrett March, jr., Richland. DH—Hayden Burris, jr., Kamiakin.