Pitcher of the year Patrick Schuster, Sr., Mitchell
For those who spent April on the moon, Schuster evolved into an ESPN-generated celebrity by throwing a state-record four consecutive no-hitters. During that span, Schuster, whose late-breaking slider could buckle the knees of many big-leaguers, struck out 60 batters, walked only seven and hit two. When his bid for no-no No. 5 ended with a clean double to rightfield by Gaither's Drew Doty in the Class 6A, District 7 tournament, Schuster had thrown 281/3 consecutive hitless innings. His final senior year totals: 8-1, 0.93 ERA, 115 strikeouts, 29 walks in 60 innings.
Most impressive accomplishment: During a recent photo shoot in the Times' Wesley Chapel bureau, we asked Schuster what he considered his most impressive feat of the year, simply because we didn't want to assume anything. "You can make that assumption," he said.
Future plans: A University of Florida signee, Schuster is expected to be taken in the top 10 rounds (and perhaps the top five) of Tuesday's Major League Baseball first-year-player draft. Ranked the No. 164 overall draft prospect (college and prep) by Baseball America, Schuster long ago enlisted the guidance of an "adviser" and has said he'll go pro if the money's right.
Did you know? Schuster's logic-defying no-hit streak overshadowed that he was one of the Mustangs' top hitters. For the season, he hit .403 with one home run, three doubles and 21 RBIs. … Schuster actually was part of five no-hitters on the season. In a season-opening shutout of Central, he threw the first six innings in a combined no-no with Matt Hart.
Player of the year Jake Schrader, Sr., Pasco
The most potent hitter in a Pirates lineup full of them, Schrader hit .554 with a North Suncoast-best 13 home runs and 46 RBIs. As judicious as he was dangerous, Schrader drew 25 walks in 99 plate appearances, and struck out only 13 times. Nearly 60 percent of his hits (21 of 36) were for extra bases.
Most impressive accomplishment: Let's modify this category to "proudest" accomplishment. Schrader points to the last at-bat of his career, when he launched a 2-2 fastball over the centerfield fence at Pasco's "Death Valley" in a playoff loss to Eustis.
Future plans: Schrader has signed with St. Johns River Community College, coached by former University of Florida assistant Ross Jones. He has an outside crack at getting picked in next week's big-league draft, but probably not high enough to lure him from SJRCC.
Did you know? Schrader was one of two area players — Schuster was the other — chosen to compete in last weekend's prestigious FACA Baseball All-Star Classic in Sebring, where scouts typically gather en masse. A member of the West squad, he missed his Friday night game because it conflicted with his high school graduation, but had an RBI single in a 4-3 win over the North on Saturday. … In 225 plate appearances over his final two prep seasons, Schrader fanned only 18 times. That's once every 12.5 at-bats, or once every three or four games.
P Mike Adams, Sr., Nature Coast: Sharks' workhorse fanned 70 in 542/3 IP
P Matt Hewitt, Sr., Mitchell: Arguably area's best pitcher not named Schuster
P Connor Coplon, Jr., Sunlake: 6-1, 2.11 ERA, 71 Ks in 492/3 innings
P Jason Garcia, Jr., Land O'Lakes: Eight-game winner emerged as team's newest ace
C Jorge Jaramillo, Sr., Pasco: Juco-bound star hit .425 with eight homers
INF Jay Mattos, Sr., Ridgewood: No local player was more valuable to his team
INF Tyler Guy, Jr., Zephyrhills: Mercurial Bulldogs' steadiest hitter (nine HRs, 41 RBIs)
INF Patrick Dwyer, Jr., Springstead: Eagles' most versatile player hit .425
INF Pablo Rivera, Sr., Sunlake: Hit .435; fanned only eight times in 92 trips to plate
OF Josh Johnson, Sr., Pasco: .427, eight HRs; we still think baseball's in his future
OF Curt Hilgenberg, Sr., Land O'Lakes: .464, seven doubles, 25 RBIs
OF Kevin Games, So., Mitchell: Kevin "Gamer" (.400) homered in road upset of Alonso
DH Matt Hart, Sr., Mitchell: .493, eight HRs, 41 RBIs, 14 doubles
UT Brennan Allen, Jr., Pasco: Outfielder with pop (six HRs) was staff ace at year's end
P Mike Ogren, Sr., Central; P Cole Miraglia, Jr., Zephyrhills; P Christian Illing, Sr., Wesley Chapel; P Ray Clark, Sr., Sunlake; C Doug Burlett, Sr., Mitchell; INF Taylor McGillis, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin; INF Austin Costa, Sr., Land O'Lakes; INF Mike Speakman, Sr., Springstead; INF Geoff Degroot, So., Wesley Chapel; OF J.J. Downum, Sr., Land O'Lakes; OF Abel Cubero, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch; OF Eric Price, Sr., Sunlake DH Josh Romeo, So., Hernando Christian; UT Spencer Bowles, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch
Bishop McLaughlin: Mike Gonzalez, Jeff Pope, TJ Wharton; Central: Mark Frederick, J.T. Simpson; Hernando: Ryan Brady; Hernando Christian: Brandon Brosher, Garrett Mikkola, Ian Townsend; Hudson: Hunter Newton, Anthony Siciliano; Land O'Lakes: Austin Aubuchon, Nick Pardo; Mitchell: Conner Hale; Nature Coast: Jack Diven, John Russell; Pasco: Trey Dudley-Giles, Cole Stancil; Ridgewood: Travis Gall; River Ridge: Mario Custodio; Springstead: Julian Perez, Tyler Schoonover; Wesley Chapel: Justin Frost; Wiregrass Ranch: Joshua Johnson; Zephyrhills: C.J. Gennaro
Coach of the Year | Chuck Yingling, Wesley Chapel
A winner of two state titles at Tampa Catholic, Yingling's renowned baseball acumen helped the Wildcats, one of the area's youngest teams, peak at the perfect time. Wesley Chapel (10-16) defeated Ridgewood, Land O'Lakes and Central by a combined 13-2 score to win the Class 5A, District 7 tournament. In a first-round playoff loss to Brandon, Yingling had only two seniors in his starting lineup, and sophomores in the first three spots of his batting order.
Joey Knight, Times staff writer