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Sat. June 14, 2014 | Times Staff

Player of the Year: Kyle Tucker, Jr., Plant 

Two years ago, outfielder Kyle Tucker had just two home runs in his freshman season at Plant, one of which was inside the park. So this season, when the Florida commit blasted nine balls over the fence during his junior campaign, the slugger admits he was a bit taken aback.

“I just felt comfortable up there,” said Tucker, whose nine home runs tied for tops in the state. “It jumped to nine and I was like, ‘Wow.’ I try to just keep that going.”

As Plant’s two-hole hitter, the 6-foot-3 centerfielder caused a lot of trouble for opposing defenses. He got on base more times than not, striking out just five times in 112 plate appearances and leading the team in batting average (.415), RBIs (35), and extra-base hits (21).

And luckily for the Panthers, there could be a whole lot more where that came from.

Tucker’s got one season left at Plant, and he plans to prepare for it and his future in baseball by continuing his work on the diamond in the offseason.

He was one of eight Tampa area players who participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase this past week, and he’ll be in another — the East Coast Professional Showcase in Syracuse, N.Y. — at the end of the summer.

Tucker is also one of 18 rising seniors selected nationwide for the Under Armour All-America Game, which will be played Aug. 16 at Wrigley Field.

And despite the accolades he’s already achieved, Tucker isn’t satisfied just yet. He’ll play with a summer team, All-American Prospects West, between showcases as he tries to better himself for what could be a big year to come.

“I’m just trying to get better with playing baseball,” he said, “trying to keep consistency throughout the season.”

Pitcher of the Year: Logan Crouse, Jr., Bloomingdale

Logan Crouse was nearly unbeatable when he took the mound for 8A state runnerup Bloomingdale. But there’s still a part of the Bulls’ most recent campaign that doesn’t sit right with him.

“Last season was great — the greatest in school history — but we weren’t satisfied. Losing in the state championship game, that doesn’t satisfy us,” said Crouse, a Florida State commit. “So we’re going to come back stronger.”

Few expected Bloomingdale, a team that struggled offensively, to get as far as it did in the playoffs. But once the Bulls got there, Crouse led the way. 

The 6-foot-5 right-hander pitched in every playoff game leading up to the state championship game loss, including the state semifinal in which Crouse pitched a complete-game shutout against a Park Vista team known for its busy bats. 

“We can always depend on Logan,” outfielder Conrado Skepple said of his teammate after that game. “He’s just our guy.”

Crouse, who also stars on the football and basketball teams at Bloomingdale, finished the season with a 0.63 ERA, striking out 116 in 88.2 innings pitched. He was also known to come up with some big plays at the plate, and he recorded 11 RBIs. 

Crouse didn’t listen to doubters who told the underdog Bulls it couldn’t be done. And with another season left at Bloomingdale, he intends to ignore them once more.

“You’ve just to play with heart and anything can happen,” Crouse said. “And it did.”

Coach of the Year

Richie Warren, Jesuit. Warren spent eight years at his alma mater after being hired as the head coach at age 23, but his final season may have been his most challenging. He began the season — his last at Jesuit after accepting a job at Berkeley Prep — with a team stocked full of Division I commits, but nine were suspended in March for breaking team rules, leaving Warren with a depleted roster. He filled the holes with JV players and led the newly blended team all the way to a 5-2 win against Clay for the Class 5A state championship, his first and only at the helm for the Tigers.

First team

P Keith Weisenberg, Sr., Osceola: Stanford commit throws a 92- to 94-mph fastball that had scouts watching at most every game; recorded 88 strikeouts in 64 innings. 

P Daniel Broeseker, Sr., Calvary Christian: Almost unhittable down the stretch for the Warriors; the Pinellas pitcher of the year candidate struck out 117 in 81.1 innings. 

P Jake Woodford, Jr., Plant: Right-hander finished with a 0.43 ERA and 10-1 record, striking out 73 in 65.1 innings pitched. 

P Brad Deppermann, Sr., East Lake: Pinellas Player of the Year led the Eagles to the Class 7A state final; was 6-2 with a 0.93 ERA and also hit .327 with six doubles.

C Bret Maxwell, Sr., Northeast: Florida State signeed played third base; hit .456 with 11 doubles and 17 RBIs.

IF Cobi Johnson, Sr., Mitchell: Florida State signee and MLB draft pick led the Mustangs with 11 doubles and batted .409.

IF Kevin Merrell, Sr., Steinbrenner: USF signee, also a district champion in the 100 meters, led Steinbrenner at the plate with a .464 batting average and was quick around the bases, stealing 21 times.

IF Keegan Maronpot, Sr., East Lake: Wake Forest commit was by far the best hitter on a team that struggled to hit; had a .430 average with nine doubles and 18 RBIs. 

IF Bubby Terp, Sr., King: Emory-bound third baseman had a team-high .452 batting average and five home runs while leading the Lions to a region final appearance

OF David Castillo, Sr., Sunlake: Clutch hitter for the Seahawks; won district final and all three playoff games leading to team’s first state appearance. 

OF Alex Hanson, Sr., Steinbrenner: Eastern Michigan signee hit .457 and led the Warriors with 12 extra-base hits, including nine doubles. 

OF Nelson Maldonado, Jr., Jefferson: Hit .432 for the district champ Dragons and recorded eight doubles and four home runs. 

DH Brenden Overton, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Tore the cover off the ball this season, hitting a  county high seven home runs with a .493 average and 35 RBIs; will play at Saint Leo. 

UTIL Jason Heinrich, Jr., River Ridge: All-North Suncoast Player of the Year hit .534 with seven homers, 13 doubles, 33 RBIs and was 9-1 on the hill.

Second team

P Michael Sandborn, So., Jesuit

P David Paul, Sr, Clearwater Central Catholic

P Alex Faedo, Sr., Alonso

P Kyle Kilbourne, Sr., Hernando

C Austin Treverton, Sr., Hernando

IF Mike Campoamor, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch 

IF Tyler House, Sr., Cambridge Christian

IF K.J. Bierly, Jr., Wesley Chapel

IF Connor Labrie, Sr., St. Petersburg

OF A.J. Rainaldi, Sr., Pasco

OF Kennie Taylor, Jr., Jesuit

OF Chris Clark, Sr., Northeast

DH Luis Medina, So., Tampa Prep

UTIL Stephen Chamblee, Sr., Plant

Honorable mention 

Berkeley Prep: Dante Bosnic; Bloomingdale: Austin James, Conrado Skepple; Boca Ciega: Tanner Watkins; Brandon: Ryan Anderson; Calvary Christian: Tommy Georgevich; Central: Trevor McKenna, Thomas Sorrentino; Clearwater Central Catholic: Andrew Murphy, Zuriel Collins; Countryside: Christian Townsend, Charlie Skantze; Dixie Hollins: Joseph Simmons; Dunedin: Trevor Jensen, Aaron Turman; Durant: Garrett Wright; Fivay: Sean Fluke, T.J. Niles; East Lake: Steven Plaskett; Gaither: Randy Oliva; Hernando: David Flowers, Justin Young; Jefferson: Jose Cuellar, Jordan Norman; Jesuit: Ryan McCullers, Ronnie Ramirez; King: Tyeler Checkley, Jose Lopez; Lakewood: Bo Bichette; Land O’Lakes: Tommy Guglielmello, Alex Reynolds, Connor Stephens; Mitchell: Kyle Frick; Nature Coast: Chris Lake; Northeast: Colton Tison, Josh Hale; Osceola: Jaret Helinger, Abi Jimenez; Palm Harbor University: Brian Auerbach; Pasco: Turner Imhoff, Malik Johns; Pinellas Park: Brandon Grigsby; Plant: Cooper Dickens, Matt Vaka; Sickles: Troy Bacon; St. Petersburg: Richie Rivera, John Miller; Seminole: Cody Miller; Sunlake: Omar Cala, Zac Howard; Steinbrenner: Cole Gordon; Tampa Catholic: Paulie Russo; Tarpon Springs: Max Romanski; Wesley Chapel: Corey Mumaw; Wiregrass Ranch: Austin Drury, Zach Drury

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