Plenty resonates from this past season of high school baseball.
In the Mid-Columbia Conference, Southridge and Kennewick battled it out for the league title, while Walla Walla and Richland were neck-and-neck for the Class 4A top seed. And Southridge got back to the state semifinals for the first time since 2004.
A little ways down the road, the Stanfield Tigers won Oregon’s Class 3A state title behind star pitcher and hitter Dylan Grogan.
But perhaps nothing marked the local baseball scene as much as the youth movement, in particular a sophomore class that promises to deliver for years to come.
At the head of that class — for the time being — is Kennewick third baseman and pitcher Trent Sellers, who was selected the Tri-City Herald’s All-Area player of the year.
Not bad for a guy who came into the season expecting to spend most of his time as a reliever.
“I didn’t see that coming,” said Sellers, whose .518 batting average was one of the tops in the Mid-Columbia Conference and whose work on the mound already has him committed to pitch for Washington State University.
“Last year as a freshman, I pitched for the varsity and I had the mentality that I could do good pitching, but not with hitting. I just started very good with hitting and continued from there.”
Several members of the 2018 class landed on the All-Area team: Southridge DH Lane Hailey on the first team and Suns third baseman Jake Harvey on the second team. Richland second baseman Casey Perryman was second team, as was Chiawana outfielder Braden Childs. Richland outfielder Josh Mendoza was among the “best of the rest.”
Sellers is the first sophomore to win the award since another former Kennewick player, Trek Stemp, won it in 2010.
He made quite an impression on his coach, longtime Kennewick pitching coach Lenny Ayres, who took over as the Lions’ head man this year.
“We knew about his pitching,” Ayres said. “His offense was a little bit of a surprise for us. The numbers he put up were outstanding.
“For a while there, every hit he had was a double.”
Seventeen of them all told, to go with 23 RBIs, 23 runs scored, 17 walks and just two strikeouts, and an absurd 1.448 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
“The Kennewick High center-field fence is 10 feet high, and there’s a net above that,” Sellers said. “I had to hit that net at least 20 times this season. My teammates call me ‘Warning Track Power.’ ”
The key to his hitting revelation, Sellers said, was he learned a little patience at the plate, started staying back on pitches and spraying balls to all fields instead of trying to pull everything.
Ayres relayed a story that exemplified Sellers’ competitive spirit. It started with his young star giving up three runs in the top of the seventh to Bonney Lake in the first round of state.
“We’re down 3-0 in the seventh, and he comes off (the field) and he’s upset,” Ayers said. “And he’s the third one up. I tell him if those two guys get on, he’s got to get them home.
“Sure enough, those two guys get on, and he hits a ringing double off the wall. Scores both, and he’s standing on third.”
And then there was his work on the mound: 5-0 with a 3.94 ERA, 32 hits, 13 walks and 43 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
“I just want to thank my coaches and teammates,” Sellers said, “because I couldn’t have done it without them.”
The first team is dominated by Kennewick and Southridge, who also dominated the MCC first team. Joining Sellers are teammates: pitcher Gerald Hein, second baseman TJ Rea, shortstop Dillon Plew and outfielder Tyler Detloff, all seniors. Southridge has four members: pitcher Bradley Morgan, first baseman Ryan Sanders and outfielder Jashaun Simon — all seniors —and Hailey.
Kamiakin senior outfielder Mike Jones and senior utility player Logan Smith also cracked the first team, as did Walla Walla catcher Futa Ikuma, a Japanese exchange student with a big arm and enough power to yank a ball out of Gesa Stadium on the final day of the regular season.
Guiding this group is coach of the year Tim Sanders of Southridge. Sanders — Ryan Sanders’ uncle — led the Suns to third place at state, their best finish in a dozen years.
Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403
2016 Herald All-Area Baseball Teams
Player of the year: Trent Sellers, so., Kennewick. Coach of the year: Tim Sanders, Southridge.
First team — C: Futa Ikuma, sr., Walla Walla. 1B: Ryan Sanders, sr., Southridge. 2B: TJ Rea, sr., Kennewick. 3B: Trent Sellers, so., Kennewick. SS: Dillon Plew, sr., Kennewick. OF: Tyler Detloff, sr., Kennewick; Jashaun Simon, sr., Southridge; Mike Jones, sr., Kamiakin. DH: Lane Hailey, so., Southridge. U: Logan Smith, sr., Kamiakin. P: Bradley Morgan, sr., Southridge; Gerald Hein, sr., Kennewick.
Second team — C: Jake Kirchhoff, sr., Southridge. 1B: Andrew Townsend, sr., Kennewick. 2B: Casey Perryman, so., Richland. 3B: Jake Harvey, so., Southride. SS: Anders Davidson, sr., Walla Walla. OF: Ramon Gutierrez, sr., Kennewick; Bryce Grigg, sr., Southridge; Braden Childs, so., Chiawana. DH: Griffey March, sr., Richland. U: Dylan Grogan, jr., Stanfield. P: Joel Meinert, sr., Richland; Dexter Aichele, jr., Walla Walla.
Best of the rest: 3B/P Mitch Lesmeister, jr., Walla Walla; 2B Ethan Sanders, sr., Southridge; C Charlie Dewitt, sr., Kennewick; U Anthony Vega, sr., Chiawana. DH Garrett Dixon, sr., Kennewick. OF Justin Larson, sr., Kamiakin. OF Josh Mendoza, so., Richland. P Hunter French, sr., Richland. P/IF Nate Rossine, sr., Kiona-Benton. SS Kyle Harvey, sr., Southridge.