By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — Outstanding individual performances sparked all four local high school baseball teams this spring. Mount Abraham Union senior Kyle Kayhart’s heavy hitting and reliable pitching helped the Eagles tie for the Metro Conference crown and reach the Division II final — and helped earn him the title of 2009 Addison Independent Baseball Player of the Year.
Coach Jeff Stetson’s Mount Abe nine finished at 16-4 while earning a share of the Metro crown for the first time. In all, four Eagles who helped accomplish those feats are honored with berths on the 2009 Addison Independent Baseball All-Star Team.
Coach George Ringer’s Vergennes team ended at 9-8, the program’s fourth straight winning season, and earned local bragging rights with a big win at Mount Abe. Two key Commodores made the Independent team.
Coach John Riter’s Otter Valley squad shrugged off early losses to finish at 9-9, including a road playoff win. That record included six one-run setbacks and a seven-game winning streak after a 2-8 start. Two Otters are recognized here, a senior and a junior.
Interim coach Randy Barnes inherited a young Middlebury team that had a nice midseason run, including a win at VUHS, but ultimately prevailed just four times. Two Tiger seniors capped fine careers with strong seasons and earned spots on this team.
Addison Independent all-star selections are made based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Congratulations to the following:
KYLE KAYHART, MOUNT ABRAHAM SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Helped Mount Abe at the plate, on the mound and at shortstop ... Batted .516, compiled an on-base percentage (OBP) of .600 and a slugging percentage of .953 ... Scored 28 runs and drove in 24 with 11 doubles, a triple and five homers ... Pitched 31.2 innings with an earned-run average of 2.43, compiling a 4-1 record with one save and striking out 26 ... Named the Metro Conference player of the year.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Besides being very talented, Kyle is probably one of the most intense competitors I’ve had ... He’s out there competing in practices and games, working hard ... He was a solid shortstop, and I think this is the first year he’s ever played shortstop on a regular basis ... He hit with power, runs well, and gave us some great, great, innings on the mound ... He’s just a lot of fun to coach.”
BEN ORVIS, MOUNT ABRAHAM SENIOR. Notes: Dominant right-handed pitcher who also helped the Eagles with his bat and his glove at third base ... Compiled a 7-1 pitching mark that included an undefeated regular-season record and a win at D-I No. 1 Essex ... Hurled 60.2 innings with a 1.71 ERA ... Used his fastball and improved curve to strike out 106 while allowing 38 hits and 19 walks ... Batted .320 with four doubles, right runs and eight RBIs and an OBP of .446.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Having Ben was one of those dream things as a coach ... He really had good command of his fastball and developed his curve ball really well ... Once he got that curveball (over) for strikes, the timing was such that he was pretty tough to hit ... He was a very good third baseman, and he is a good hitter.”
CAM CURLER, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Team sparkplug and four-year starter who excelled defensively at shortstop, earned more than half the team’s pitching wins, and had a strong season at the plate ... Smart, sure-handed fielder with an accurate arm ... Batted .357 with an OBP of .409 ... Drove in 15 runs, scored 15 runs, drilled four doubles and a grand slam vs. Mount Abe ... Went 5-2 on the mound with an ERA of 2.57, striking out 37 in 46.2 with an assortment of pitches.
Ringer’s Quotes: He’s been solid (at short) all four years ... He plays hard, he practices hard ... He just makes any team better ... His physical skills are considerable, but he augments them with his desire to win and to play. He just loves the game ... It was his defense and leadership qualities that set the tone for the team ... What a great teammate.”
SEAN HARRISON, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Versatile senior three-year starter who caught, played third and short, and excelled batting and pitching ... Hit .392 with an OBP of .466 and a slugging percentage of .706 ... Belted seven doubles and three homers, drove in 14 runs and scored eight ... Hurled three complete-game wins and had an ERA of 3.64 that could have been lower with more defensive support ... Struck out 53 and allowed 49 hits in 42.1 innings.
Barnes’ Quotes: “He was a kid everyone pitched around and feared ... He’s a kid who does everything extremely well ... He caught, he pitched, he played third base, he played shortstop. He’s such a good player we could stick him anywhere ... His pitching numbers belie his effectiveness. As a pitcher, he was our go-to guy.”
DEAN BUTLER, MOUNT ABRAHAM SENIOR. Notes: Three-year starter who capped his career by batting a loud .451 ... Pounded four doubles and four homers, drove in 16 runs and scored 16 runs, and compiled an OBP of .534 ... Solid defensive catcher with a strong arm ... Team leader with a knack for keeping the team loose, but focused, in important situations.
Stetson’s Quotes: “Dean’s been an outstanding catcher, a great power hitter, and probably even more important than all that, he was just a ray of sunshine in practices and games, always had a smile on his face ... His whole attitude made the team relax a bit ... He was a good leader. He made us not take ourselves too seriously ... He’s just a great kid.”
JEFF JACKSON, OV SENIOR. Notes: Speedy centerfielder who sparked OV when he returned to the line-up seven games in after taking college courses elsewhere ... OV went 8-4 with him on board ... Batted .419 with an OBP of .595, scored 15 runs, stole 15 bases and drove in 10 from the leadoff spot ... Showed pop with a homer, three doubles and two triples ... Had great range in the outfield.
Riter’s Quotes: “He became a team leader right away ... (His return) was probably our turning point of the season ... He had power and a defensive presence in the outfield ... He had three or four infield hits because he was able to beat them out ... His arm is not only strong, but accurate, and he knows where to go ... He’s one of the fastest fielders I’ve ever seen.”
BEN WILLIAMS, OV SENIOR. Notes: Three-year starter who helped OV at the plate and on the mound ... Batted .325 with an OBP of .450 and a slugging percentage of .700, drilling two homers, two doubles and three triples, driving in 18 runs and scoring 20 ... Had a 3-4 pitching record with an ERA of 3.50, striking out 65 batters in 50 innings despite battling a balky shoulder.
Riter’s Quotes: “He was one of our most clutch hitters ... You could always rely on him ... He has such a sweet left-handed swing ...When he was on, he was one of the best players I’ve ever had, hitting and pitching ... It was such a shame he was hampered (by injuries) ... He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached ... He was a captain for a reason.”
SETH DELORME, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Senior leader who batted .312 with three homers, two doubles and a triple ... Drove in 12 runs and scored 13 ... A natural shortstop, willingly played catcher to fill a team need in many games and started on the mound in seven ... Quickly adapted to his new position, both blocking balls and throwing well ... Won the school’s senior sportsmanship award.
Barnes’ Quotes: “He was our stud shortstop, but I asked him to be a pitcher and catcher, and he never complained ... If he focused on being a catcher, he would be a stud catcher ... I could have put him anywhere, and he would have been a standout defensively ... He’s a quiet leader. He was a leader by example.”
SHAWN MARCELLE, MOUNT ABRAHAM JUNIOR. Notes: First baseman who led all local hitters with a .542 batting average against Metro pitching in his first varsity season, and scored a local-best 30 runs ... Showed pop, with three homers, five doubles and two triples, and had a .600 OBP ... Compiled a 5-2 pitching record with three saves and 38 strikeouts in 36.1 innings, with an ERA of 4.43.
Stetson’s Quotes: Shawn came in and did a great job for us ... He was an impressive No. 2 hitter ... He could move a runner over, and put the ball in play ... He had the uncanny ability to pick out a pitch and hit it where they ain’t ... It was rare to see him not put solid contact on the ball ... It got so ridiculous you would almost get disappointed if he didn’t get a hit.”
LOGAN WILLIAMS, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Led VUHS in many offensive categories, including batting average (.384), RBIs (18) and OBP (.428) ... Scored 14 runs and showed plenty of pop, with five doubles, four triples and a homer ... Switched from the infield to become the team’s primary catcher and adapted quickly to the new role ... Also compiled a 2-1 pitching record, striking out 24 in 18.2 innings with a 4.50 ERA.
Ringer’s Quotes: “He was just solid for us all year ... He hit with power and he hit for average ... He quietly had a really good offensive season ... He was a good receiver and threw real well ... He was our guy behind there ... I think he did a nice job for us.”