While Shortstop Snyder is away, Home Run Hobstetter will play — or take over the Weekly Cycle.
This week our fearless sports editor is out of town for a family obligation. So I have gladly stepped in to take over our weekly look at the area baseball/softball scene.
And I’ve taken the approach very similar to the Kentucky Derby, and no we’re not going to take the kids to a field and have them race for the award. There are laws against that.
We’re also going with a different approach. With only two weeks left in the regular season, I think it would be fun to handicap the player of the year races in both baseball and softball.
In both I see a few favorites, but behind them there are a countless number of dark horses that can make things very interesting.
And before we go on I can’t stress this enough — this is my opinion, no one else on the staff or the anyone else in the area. Just me. If you have a question, complaint or even compliment, we do enjoy those every once in a while, my information will be at the bottom.
We good? All right let’s look at area baseball first.
‰ Seth Boyle, Greenup County. If this was named Most Valuable Player, then the award should go to Boyle without question.
The senior has carried the Musketeers at the plate, batting .453 on the year and is leading the team in both RBIs (22) and runs scored (21).
And what impresses his coach Greg Logan even more, is that when the game is on the line, Boyle wants to be the one at the plate.
“I wish he could have batted all nine times,” Logan said after a loss to Rowan County. “I’ve never had a kid go to the plate with so much confidence.”
He also steps up to the mound with confidence as the Musketeers’ ace. This season Boyle is 7-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 60 strikeouts.
Greenup will be in the hunt until the end, and Boyle could be the reason they get over the top and head to Lexington.
Odds for player of the year: 4-1.
‰ Logan Salow, Ashland. The reigning player of the year has been off to a slow start on the mound, but that hasn’t stopped his bat.
Last year, the lefty was dominant on the mound. But this year, keeping him healthy has been on the agenda for the Tomcats.
Early arm soreness has limited his pitching numbers — he’s only thrown 18 innings. But he’s been good in those 18 innings, striking out 46 and having a 1.88 ERA.
More importantly has been his bat, as he leads the Tomcats in batting average and is a dangerous athlete and hitter in the middle of the lineup.
Odds for Player of the Year: 4-1.
‰ Sammy Holder, Lewis County. Lewis County coach Keith Prater told me bluntly, his junior is the best player in the region.
Holder backs up his coach’s words, leading the Lions to the most wins in the region heading into the last two weeks of the season.
But there is one thing holding the junior back — being a junior. I can see Boyle or Salow edging out Holder because of seniority.
If he doesn’t win this year, you shouldn’t feel bad for him. He’ll be the front runner for next year’s race.
Odds for Player of the Year: 10-1.
‰ Dark horses: Cable Wright (Bath County): Leading Bath County to an incredible season. Conner Staton (East Carter): Leads the Raiders in runs scored, home runs and has a 5-1 record on the mound with a 2.48 ERA. J.D. Pridemore (Russell): One of the lone seniors on Russell is batting .389 on the year with 14 RBIs. Robbie Shivel (Boyd County): The Lions’ leadoff man has been key to Boyd County’s late season explosion.
‰ Megan Hensley (Ashland). Not only is she dominant in the circle, she’s dominant at the plate too.
The sophomore is 16-5 from the circle, with a 0.91 ERA and totaling 252 strikeouts. She’s also fired three no-hitters this year, including a loss where her defense committed five errors.
But along with her pitching, Hensley has been impressive at the plate. She leads the Kittens in batting average at .420. She’s also added 26 RBIs and three home runs.
She’s easily the front runner right now.
Odds for Player of the Year: 3-1.
‰ Emily Stewart (Boyd County). She’s too good to not put on this list, and those at Boyd County know that first hand.
She’s a team leader, she’s one of the best hitters in the area and she gives it her all when she’s on the field.
Along with Taylor Wheeler and Nicole Goins, Stewart gives Boyd County one of the best middle lineups in the region.
Odds for Player of the Year: 5-1.
‰ McKenzie Vanover (Ashland). She’s on this list for one reason — the girl can hit.
She not only hits for average, batting at .375, but she’s probably the most dangerous batter in the 16th Region.
With a staggering nine home runs and 42 RBIs, she could take away votes from her teammate and end up being being named top player in the area.
Odds for Player of the Year: 7-2.
‰ Jordyn Wiler (East Carter). Of the front runners, she’s probably in the back of the list. But it’s hard to ignore what the sophomore has done for the Lady Raiders.
She’s batting .535 on the year and is tied for the team lead in RBIs at 22. But what sets her apart is her ability to get on base and score.
Wiler leads East Carter in runs scored at 22, and leads the team in walks as well.
She’s another player that will be on this list over the next couple of years. A lot of eyes need to be fixated on Grayson right now.
Odds for Player of the Year: 10-1.
‰ Dark horses: Taylor Wheeler (Boyd County): She’s probably the best overall hitter in the region. She just doesn’t get pitched to enough. Bre Grubb (Raceland): Also too good a hitter for her own good. The senior is regularly pitched around. Heather Withrow (East Carter): She’s hitting .575 and has 22 RBIs. She could be big for the Lady Raiders over the coming weeks. Arden Gross (Russell): One of the best catchers in the region, also a force in the middle of the lineup. Mallory Powell (Russell): Can raise her stock the next two weeks with how well she can pitch.
I get jealous Aaron is the one who gets yelled at for these, so I thought I would take a crack at my own.
1. Ashland (17-8)
2. Greenup Co. (16-9)
3. Boyd County (17-11)
4. Lewis County (21-8)
5. Bath County (16-7)
6. Russell (13-12)
7. Rowan County (13-14)
1. Ashland (18-7)
2. Boyd County (19-9)
3. Rowan County (20-11)
4. East Carter (18-11)
5. Raceland (16-10)
6. Greenup County (13-13)
7. Fairview (15-11)
Keep up with all the area sports information this week and the rest of the year by following @DIndependentQB. Or if you want to pick my brain, follow me at @KHobstetter.
Kyle Hobstetter can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2658.