MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Player of the Year: INF/P Collin Woody, Sr., Wharton
Entering the 2012 season, Collin Woody had only thrown 6.2 innings for Wharton. Coach Scott Hoffman, though, promised Woody this was his year.
“We knew he could throw last year,” Hoffman said. “I kind of held the reins back on him a little bit, and I was really tough on him. I just wanted him to be completely prepared.”
Over the next few months, and especially at the end of the season, Woody became indispensable as Wharton completed its most successful season. The Wildcats collected their first district title and first region playoff win, advancing all the way to the Class 8A region final.
Wharton wouldn’t have achieved either of those feats, though, if Woody hadn’t single-handedly defeated Alonso, the defending state champion, in the 8A-7 district semifinals.
After seven innings, the score remained 0-0. In the top of the eighth, Woody, who had limited Alonso to just four hits, broke the deadlock with a two-run double, his second of the game. He retired the side in the bottom half of the inning, finishing with 12 strikeouts.
“We wanted him in this situation, I wanted the ball to be in his hands in this deciding game,” Hoffman said after the game. “And he did exactly what I thought he would do.”
Woody, who will play next year at the College of Central Florida, a junior college in Lecanto, finished the season as Wharton’s leader in batting average (.341), doubles (11), runs (24), RBIs (21) and stolen bases (five). He pitched 79 total innings, going 9-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 77 strikeouts. In 24 playoff innings, his ERA was 0.29.
Pitcher of the Year: Lance McCullers, Sr., Jesuit
Lance McCullers was first interviewed when he was 14 years old, at a Perfect Game showcase. Since then, he’s done hundreds, and as he stood in the upstairs entertainment room of his Carrollwood home the night after the MLB first-year players draft, he gave the final interview of his high school career.
“It’s been a long process overall,” he said, standing in front of a makeshift podium in a white button-down shirt and jeans. “It was four years coming, and with the day finally being here, it was almost like a surreal moment. As the hours and minutes rolled closer it almost felt like it was getting further away. It was a special moment for my family and me. Regardless of what was going to happen, it was still nice to be with them.”
McCullers was drafted in the supplemental first round by the Astros as the 41st overall pick. His father, Lance Sr., had gone No. 41 overall to the Phillies 30 years prior in the 1982 draft.
“He’s probably a little ahead of what I was in high school with his velocity and his breaking ball,” said McCullers Sr., drafted as a pitcher out of Tampa Catholic. “But if he goes on my track, it only took me three years to get to the big leagues once I left high school.”
McCullers was ahead of every high school player in the country this past season, as Gatorade named him the national player of the year. He gave up two earned runs his senior season, ending with a 0.18 ERA through 77 1/3 innings. He also struck out 45 percent of batters, finishing with 140 strikeouts.
By 5 p.m. July 13, McCullers will have either signed with the Astros or opted to attend Florida for at least the next three years. He’ll spend the rest of his offseason working out with the Marlins’ 2011 first-round draft pick, former Alonso ace Jose Fernandez, and current Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras.
Coach of the Year: John Vigue, St. Petersburg Catholic
St. Petersburg Catholic had not been in the state semifinals since 1975. Vigue ended that streak by piecing together a pitching staff and overcoming midseason injuries. The Barons got on a roll during the playoffs and finished the season 20-10-1.
Big wins included a district championship over Calvary Christian and a nine-inning region final win over West Palm Beach King’s Academy.
Vigue continues a family tradition at SPC. He not only played at the school, but his father, Jim, coached there in 1975, the Barons’ last tournament appearance before this past season.
P Chris Toney, Sr., Brandon: Threw four complete games in the playoffs, including a two-hitter in the Class 7A state semifinal; 0.91 ERA in 84 ⅓ innings
P Jimmy Herget, Sr., Jefferson: USF signee finished with 0.91 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 54 innings; collected second straight Saladino Tournament MVP
P Michael Dunnigan, Sr., Tarpon Springs: Had an impressive 0.71 ERA in 79 innings, struck out 111 and walked 11
P Trey Oest, Sr., Durant: Virginia signee logged 14 appearances and only surrendered multiple runs once; 0.48 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 73 innings
C Nolan Schultz, Sr., Jesuit: Handled state’s best pitching staff and also hit .429 with 32 RBIs, tops in Hillsborough County
IF Richie Martin, Sr., Bloomingdale: Florida signee flashed speed with 21 stolen bases, 25 runs scored and also hit .438
IF Vincent Miniet, Jr., Jesuit: Tigers’ leadoff hitter hit .429 with .613 on-base percentage and 27 runs scored; had only extra-base hit for Jesuit in the Class 5A state semifinals
IF Scott Withrow, Jr., Seminole: Hit .427 as the Warhawks’ leadoff batter; only two errors on the season
IF Keon Barnum, Sr., King: Chicago White Sox prospect (drafted No. 48 overall) hit .417 with five home runs and 15 RBIs
OF Brett Phillips, Sr., Seminole: Drafted in the sixth round by Houston for his speed and defense; hit .354
OF Ryan Valdes, Sr., Alonso: Florida State signee led Hillsborough County with seven home runs; also had .347 average and 18 RBIs
OF Ricky Escobar, Sr., Jesuit: No. 9 hitter turned over the lineup with a .377 average, seven doubles, four home runs and 24 RBIs
DH Pete Alonso, Jr., Plant: Florida commit led Hillsborough County public schools with a .485 average; recorded 11 doubles, six home runs and 24 RBIs
Util Brandon Lawson, Jr., Hernando: USF commit struck out 100 batters while batting .329 for region finalists
P Dylan Drawdy, Sr., Riverview
P Eric Hanhold, Sr., East Lake
P Brad Hencke, Sr., Land O’Lakes
P Tyler Danish, Jr., Durant
C Michael Mann, Jr., Seminole
IF Oscar Mercado, Jr., Gaither
IF Lane Stancil, So., Pasco
IF Joe Koehler, Sr., Mitchell
IF Corbin Olmstead, Sr., Jefferson
OF Trey Dudley-Giles, Sr., Pasco
OF Rickey Whiteman, Sr., Osceola
OF Zack Drury, So., Wiregrass Ranch
DH Adam Arrowood, Jr., Ridgewood
Util Alex McGathey, Jr., Seminole
Alonso: Juan Bracamonte; Bishop McLaughlin: Tanner Koch, Ty Cooler; Bloomingdale: Nolan Schrenker; Calvary Christian: Zach Wolfe; Canterbury: Harrison Hall; Dunedin: Colyn O’Connell, Kellen Brown; Gaither: Matt Frey; Hernando: Christian Arroyo, Jake Johnson; Jesuit: John Kilichowski; Land O’Lakes: Dylan Harris; Mitchell: Garrett Kriston, Cobi Johnson; Osceola: Josh Townsend; Ridgewood: Joseph Hloska; River Ridge: Tommy Peterson; Seminole: Adam Atkinson; Springstead: Brandon Brosher; St. Petersburg Catholic: Dakota Sarafin; Tarpon Springs: Anthony Bariso, Cole Miklavcic; Wesley Chapel: Chris Zichy, Zach White; Wiregrass Ranch: Ryan Kopenski