This season’s Player of the Year assumed a starring role in ending the seasons of both coaches who shared top honors on The Independent’s 2013 All-Area Baseball Team.
Ashland senior Logan Salow dealt eight innings and struck out 18 batters to help escape Keith Prater’s Lewis County Lions in the first round of the 16th Region Tournament. A day later, Salow fired a laser from center field to home plate to erase the potential go-ahead run in a win over Jason Davis’ Rowan County Vikings.
Just as his team was back-to-back region champion, Salow has been voted Player of the Year by area coaches in back-to-back seasons. The area includes all 16th Region schools as well as Johnson Central, Lawrence County and Paintsville.
“Coach (Jeff Wilcox) told me right after the region championship (about the honor),” Salow said. “I had some mixed emotions. We had just won the championship, so I wanted to celebrate with my team. Then coach pulled me aside and said, ‘You also won Player of the Year.’ It was pretty special.”
Salow is the first two-time top honoree since former Lawrence County standout Chandler Shepherd earned the recognition in 2009 and 2011.
“It’s pretty neat winning it two times in a row,” Salow said. “I couldn’t thank my teammates more.”
Headed to the University of Kentucky as a preferred walk-on, Salow turned in a sensational senior season even after dealing with triceps soreness in his throwing arm in the early going.
The left-hander racked up 101 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings, giving up just seven earned runs on the year. He tossed his only career perfect game against Lawrence County on May 11 in Prestonsburg — he amassed 18 punchouts against the Bulldogs.
Salow led off for the Tomcats, and he played center field when not on the mound. He hit .387, scored 39 runs, stole 19 bases and drove in 24 runs.
Salow was also All-Area in both football and basketball as a senior.
Joining Salow on the All-Area team were senior teammates Aaron Elam and Cade O’Bryan.
Elam, just a junior, is already a two-time All-Area member. The first baseman hit .358 with three home runs and 22 RBIs. He also had a 2-0 pitching record. O’Bryan raked out game-winning hits in both the aforementioned region tournament wins over Lewis County and Rowan County. The 6-foot-4 lefty smacked three homers, had 31 RBIs and batted .384.
The Tomcats’ season ended at the collective hands of eventual state champion Pleasure Ridge Park in the opening round of the State Tournament. Salow was saddled with the loss, but allowed just two earned runs in six innings.
Having a strong feeling that his team had a legitimate shot at a State Tournament appearance was Prater.
Prater also went back-to-back as Coach of the Year. He had sole ownership of the award in 2012.
The second-year Lewis County coach guided the Lions to a school-record 27 wins a year after leading the club to a 25-6 season. The Lions fell to Greenup County, though, in the 63rd District championship game which led to a challenging first-round region matchup with Ashland.
“We went 27-11 with the toughest schedule Lewis County has ever had. We beat four or five top-25 teams,” said the 34-year-old Prater, a former Lion player. “We’ve put a plan in place — I think we had the potential for two region championships — and now we’ve got to get that championship.”
Prater said he was “tickled to death” to be voted to the top again, but he gave credit to his kids.
“I’m just glad they let me go on the ride with them,” he said with a laugh.
Two of his key contributors were junior Sammy Holder and senior Nick Thompson, both of whom earned All-Area honors. Holder was 9-2 with a 1.81 earned run average and he hit .377. Thompson led the team with 53 hits and 36 RBIs.
Said Holder: “(Prater) is a great leader. He just tells us to have fun and just play. To go from 8-22 to 25 wins and 27 wins is amazing.”
Davis completed his third season with Rowan County. The Vikings, plagued by pivotal injuries, suffered a 2-12 start before rolling to a 19-18 record that was capped off by the school’s first region semifinal showing since 2005.
“I’m humbled by the whole experience,” said Davis, 33. “I think coaches just saw what we went through ... It was just about finding the right combination. We came to the field like we were 12-2, not 2-12. They just finally got sick and tired of losing.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that before,” added Davis about the turnaround.
Rowan County fell to the Tomcats, 1-0, in the semifinals as O’Bryan drilled a decisive home run in the sixth inning.
Justin Graham, a junior, was the Vikings’ lone All-Area selection. He hit .437, drove in 28 runs and stole 12 bags. He was 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA.
Seniors Seth Boyle and Zach Hutchinson represented region runner-up Greenup County. Boyle was 9-1 with a 1.34 ERA and 91 strikeouts. The third baseman’s .487 batting average was among the best in the region. He drove in a team-best 35 runs. Hutchinson caught and pitched for the Musketeers. He was 4-1 on the mound.
Bath County’s Cable Wright, who is heading to Morehead State along with Boyle, hit safely in every game this season. He hit an eye-popping .563 with two bombs and 51 RBIs in 103 at-bats. The southpaw was 7-4 with a 1.42 ERA. He fanned 99 batters in 64 innings pitched.
Boyd County’s two honorees were do-it-all senior Robbie Shivel and sophomore backstop Jacob Barnwell. Shivel hit .387 to go with 36 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. Barnwell batted .406 (1.142 OPS) with 29 RBIs and 29 runs. He caught 15 of 30 runners stealing from behind the plate.
East Carter had senior Conner Staton on the All-Area squad. His win-loss record was 7-2 (88 Ks in 55 IP). He hit three home runs and pilfered 12 bases.
Raceland’s Zayne Sammons was 6-4 with 69 strikeouts to just 16 walks. The senior hit .385 with 24 RBIs.
J.D. Pridemore, Russell’s speedy senior right fielder, hit .380 with 21 RBIs.
Paintsville’s Matt Miller was the only freshman selected to the team. He was 8-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 58 1/3 innings pitched, and he hit .365 with four triples and 34 runs scored.
Senior catcher Clark Rice helped lead Lawrence County to a 24-win season with a .354 average. He pegged 36 percent of baserunners trying to steal.
Johnson Central junior Juwan Mayes turned in a 36-inning season effort that included a 1.27 ERA. He hit .350 and stole 10 bases.
Zach Bartley represented Morgan County after a solid all-around senior season. He batted .467, scored 31 times and had 23 RBIs.
Fleming County’s selection was Brett Fawns, who batted .387 with four homers and 29 RBIs. He was 3-2 pitching-wise.
Two-time All-Area selections were Bartley, Boyle, Elam, Holder, Hutchinson, Salow, Shivel and Wright.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
2013 All-Area Baseball Team
Player (School) Grade
Jacob Barnwell (Boyd County) So.
Zach Bartley (Morgan County) Sr.
Seth Boyle (Greenup County) Sr.
Aaron Elam (Ashland) Jr.
Brett Fawns (Fleming County) Jr.
Justin Graham (Rowan County) Jr.
Sammy Holder (Lewis County) Jr.
Zach Hutchinson (Greenup County) Sr.
Juwan Mayes (Johnson Central) Jr.
Matt Miller (Paintsville) Fr.
Cade O’Bryan (Ashland) Sr.
J.D. Pridemore (Russell) Sr.
Clark Rice (Lawrence County) Sr.
Logan Salow (Ashland) Sr.
Zayne Sammons (Raceland) Sr.
Robbie Shivel (Boyd County) Sr.
Conner Staton (East Carter) Sr.
Nick Thompson (Lewis County) Sr.
Cable Wright (Bath County) Sr.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Logan Salow (Ashland)
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
Jason Davis (Rowan County)
Keith Prater (Lewis County)
ASHLAND — Cameron Fritz, Evan Yongue. BATH COUNTY — Brandon Fryman, South Whitt. BOYD COUNTY — Dylan Grimm, Billy McCoy. EAST CARTER — Austin Floyd, Jesse James. FAIRVIEW — Brandon McDaniel. GREENUP COUNTY — Will McCall. JOHNSON CENTRAL — Seth Blanton, Garrett LeMaster, Jimmy Preston, Bo Robbins. LAWRENCE COUNTY — Brandon Stevens. LEWIS COUNTY — Cory Christy, Levi Clark, Jordan Davis. MORGAN COUNTY — Ryan Hanson. ROWAN COUNTY — Harold Chapman, Jordan Cornett, Camron Planck. RUSSELL — Heath Hensley, Tate Trimble. WEST CARTER — Peyton Brown, Ben Jordan, Tanner Tackett.