Baseball: State and league accolades abound for Wilsonville
The Wilsonville baseball team forged a spot in the upper echelon of the Northwest Oregon Conference and the state this season.
And reflecting their success collectively, the Wildcats earned an abundance of accolades individually.
Eight Wilsonville players received all-league honors, four players made the all-state team, two players made the All-State First Team and one player earned the Northwest Oregon Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year award.
One year after serving as a relief pitcher, Wilsonville senior Gage Gloster broke out as an ace-caliber starting pitcher this season and gave the Wildcats key innings as a starter and as a reliever during their run to the state semifinals. For his efforts, Gloster earned First Team All-State honors and league Co-Pitcher of the Year distinction. Utilizing his mid-80s fastball and slider, Gloster posted a much lower walk rate and a higher strikeout rate this year than last year. He was also one of Wilsonville's top hitters and made the All-League First Team as an infielder.
"Gage made huge strides from last year to this year. Last year he had great stuff but didn't have the mentality to attack hitters. He was just throwing. This year he really learned to pitch," Wilsonville head coach Bryn Card said.
Heading into the season, Card noticed Wilsonville shortstop Trevor Antonson's preternatural vision and fundamentally sound swing. But he wasn't sure if the sophomore would make an impact immediately. Nevertheless, playing one of the toughest defensive positions in his first year starting on varsity, Antonson blossomed into one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the state. For his efforts, he received First Team All-State honors.
"I knew he was talented. That was never the question. It was always about whether he can he be a leader and at shortstop you need a leader and a field general and he learned those things as the season progressed," Card said.
With a dynamite season under Antonson's belt and two years left of high school, Card will keep pushing him toward his full potential.
"I look forward to working with him because I know how hard I can push him now. He's an incredible kid and talent," Card said.
Wilsonville catcher Dominic Enbody earned NWOC Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior and wasn't quite as dominant this season — in part because pitchers were reticent to throw him strikes. Still, Enbody was a standout player offensively and defensively and earned Second Team All-State and First Team All-NWOC distinction.
"It's extremely hard to be a two-time (NWOC Player of the Year) and he was extremely close," Card said. "Catcher is the hardest positon on the field. You get beat up and worn out. I'm glad he got recognized both years. Teams go into the game knowing about him and he still performed at an extremely high level."
Wilsonville junior Ben VavRosky started as a sophomore but was somewhat of an afterthought behind Jax Evenhus and Tom Gomez in the 2016 season. Similar to Gloster though, he made a name for himself this season. VavRosky made the All-State Second Team and the All-League First Team as a pitcher and the All-League Second Team as an outfielder.
VavRosky's pitching style is the polar opposite of Gloster's. Instead of relying on velocity and strikeouts, VavRosky induces ground outs and weak contact with a full arsenal of pitches.
"He knows you don't need to get strikeouts to get outs. You can trust your defense and let them make plays, work the count and keep the ball down in the zone," Card said.
Also, senior Drake Carter and junior Adam Stevens made the All-League Second Team as infielders.
After playing shortstop last season, Carter agreed to move to third base to allow Antonson to start at shortstop and to garner more experience playing other infield positions in preparation for college. He excelled at his new position and strung together a plethora of key hits during the Wildcats playoff run.
"Drake saw he could help the team somewhere else and his grinder, fighter mentality allowed us to go as far as we did. He was the X-factor on our team this year. I can't say enough about him making that sacrifice," Card said. "If Drake would have fought it, Trevor probably wouldn't have gotten the recognition he did and Drake probably wouldn't have either."
Stevens also played impressively in the postseason and showed improvement from last season to this year.
Card appreciates Stevens's curiosity and enthusiasm for the game.
"The reason I love him is he is a sponge for the game. He wants to know more every day. I don't think I've gone a day where he isn't asking positive questions. 'Am I doing this right?' 'What can I do get better?' He makes that adjustment. Because of that mentality he's made huge strides. Last year he battled for playing time. This year I don't think I pulled him out," Card said.
Senior outfielder Kristjen Mertes and junior pitcher Halden Bjornson received honorable mention all-league honors.
"Kristjen, before practice, after practice, on weekends, he's in the cage hitting. He really loves the game and works so hard," Card said.
Card expects Bjornson to build off of his junior season next year.
"Next year he'll be even better. He got a lot of time on the mound and a lot of at bats," Card said.