The Southridge stars write a new and better ending to their careers
CORVALLIS - The 2011 high school baseball season didn't end the way that Southridge seniors Jace Fry and Jake Azevedo envisioned it would.
Fry and Azevedo, one of Oregon's top pitcher-catcher combinations, paced the Skyhawks to a Metro League co-championship and helped their team earn a top seed in the Class 6A state playoffs.
But Fry (a 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound lefthander who's headed to Oregon State next year) and Azevedo (a 6-1, 205-pounder who's on his way to Columbia Basin College) saw their state championship hopes blown up in the second round of the second season, victims of a 6-2 upset at the hands of West Salem.
The Oregon All-Star Series, however, gave Fry and Azevedo a chance to set things right.
And boy oh boy, did they ever set things right.
Playing for the North all-star team, Fry and Azevedo scooped up every big honor awarded to the North, with Fry being named the Most Valuable Player of the Series and the North's Most Outstanding Pitcher, while Azevedo was honored as the North's Outstanding Player. The Series opened with a single game on Saturday evening and continued with two games Sunday at Goss Stadium on the OSU campus.
'It felt good, and it felt good getting the sweep too,' said Fry, who picked up the win in the Series' opener on Saturday, and helped the North's offense average almost 11 hits per contest in the three-game set. 'It was nice coming back out here, getting to throw at Goss Stadium on the bump.'
'It was an honor,' said Azevedo, who caught the Series' first and third games and collected four hits along the way. 'I just had the same high expectations as always. It was fun to play.'
Fry kicked off the festivities by throwing four shutout innings at the South to pick up the win in the Series opener. He allowed just two hits and two walks in that span, struck out three and didn't allow a runner to advance past second base.
'It was all about pitch selection,' Fry explained. 'I was trying to get ahead using certain pitches, and then using certain pitches to close batters out. I wasn't trying to show the same batter the same pitch too many times, just trying to keep them off balance.'
And Fry had plenty of good reasons to perform well too. He was selected by Oakland in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 7, and had both an Oakland scout and one of his advisors in the stands watching him throw on Saturday.
'I was trying to show them all my stuff, give it the best,' Fry said. 'It makes me more competitive than nervous. It makes me focus more which makes me perform to a higher standard.'
While Fry used his arm to get things started, he used his bat pretty well the rest of the way. After going 1-for-3 in Saturday's game, he went 2-for-2 and scored once in game two, then went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored in the third to finish his Series at .571.
Likewise, Azevedo was keen to add a positive finish to his final high school season, and likewise, he got it done big-time.
The catcher handled Fry flawlessly in the opener and also went 1-for-2 at the plate, doubling and scoring in the second inning. Azevedo then went wild at the plate in Sunday's first game, going 3-for-4, doubling twice, driving in three runs and scoring once to finish his Series with a .666 batting average and lead the North in RBIs.
'I felt like the Metro League was the best league all year, so we had something to prove against the South,' Azevedo said. 'I was just trying to put a good swing on pitches up in the zone and let it fly.'
And it didn't hurt that he and Fry were able to write a new ending to their senior year either.
'The taste isn't quite as bad as it was,' Azevedo admitted.