Hillsboro softball, baseball players honored by NWOC
Hillsboro's softball season may be over, but the honors are rolling in.
The Spartans accounted for seven players on the recently announced Northwest Oregon Conference All-League team, led by McKenzie Staub who was a first team pitcher and more importantly, was honored as the Co-NWOC Pitcher of the Year, along with Putnam's Melia Croydon.
The impact of Staub's performance can best be described by preseason prognosticators, who thought little of Hillsboro's chances as a result of losing all-league pitcher Payton Goodrich who went on to play for Oregon State this past season.
"She had a heck of a year in the circle," Hillsboro head coach Sara Harsin said. "There were a lot of unknowns entering this season, and what McKenzie was going to do in the circle was one of them. It's pretty incredible to go from not pitching a single game the year prior, to Pitcher of the Year."
Staub was virtually unhittable for the Sparts, finishing with a 21-1 record with a 0.99 ERA, while striking out 277 and walking 36. In addition to her work in the circle, the junior batted .468 with five home runs and 49 RBIs. However, despite her outstanding numbers, Staub was more concerned about where the team had been and where they're going next year than the statistics and individual honors.
"While I was very excited to be named Pitcher of the Year, it wasn't my main goal this year," Staub said. "I took it one game at a time and wanted to do my best for the team. In the end, we didn't get where we wanted and I know we'll learn from this and be ready to take the next step next year."
Joining Staub on the first team was the Spartans' only senior, infielder Rainy Dold, junior catcher Natalie Kinney, and sophomores Kiara McCrea and Sydney Lierman. In addition, sophomore Kylee McCrea was a second team selection, while fellow sophomore Natalee Dold was honorable mention.
Kiara McCrea, who had a real case to be named the conference Player of the Year, hit .571 with a .656 on-base-percentage and 1.432 OPS (On-base plus slugging). Harsin was particularly impressed with both McCrea and Staub, who switched positions this season despite being first team all-leaguers at different positions last year.
"It's crazy to think McKenzie and Kiara were first team all-leaguers last year in a different category," Harsin said. "That just shows their versatility."
Harsin also praised — amongst others — Rainy Dold, who she said played a vital role both on and off the field.
"Rainy's play in the field and leadership was big for us," the coach said. "She started off slow at the plate, but really came around, hitting close to .400."
Putnam, who finished second to Hillsboro in the NWOC standings and four games behind the Sparts, curiously garnered an equal number of honorees (7), along with the Co-Pitcher and Coach of the Year. Despite numbers that seemed to pale in comparison to those of McCrea's, Wilsonville's Carly Atwood and St. Helens' Taylor Dow shared Player of the Year honors.
Harsin wasn't shy about the perceived oversight, but spoke diplomatically about it despite an obvious sorrow for her player.
"I was disappointed for her because she's a great kid and was a huge part of our success this year," Harsin said. "She had the best offensive numbers on the best team in the league. It was something that didn't make any sense to me and I couldn't explain to her."
Hillsboro's baseball team, which placed third in the NWOC and lost to eventual 5A state champion Central in the playoffs' first round, had five different players honored at eight different positions.
Senior Kammeron Mecham led the way for the Sparts, earning first team honors as both an infielder and pitcher. In addition to Mecham, junior Kane Kiaunis was a first team selection at catcher, while earning second team honors as a pitcher. Senior Josh O'Neal was a first team utility player and honorable mention pitcher, while freshman Kyle Meyer was a first team designated hitter and fellow freshman Jackson Price was honorable mention as utility.
Mecham finished the season with a 5-1 record, throwing 40 2/3 innings, and finishing with a 1.89 ERA with 37 strikeouts and six walks. The senior also batted .423 for the Sparts, and his performance earned him a spot in the Oregon All-Star Series played Satuday and Sunday, June 22 & 23, at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field in Corvallis.
Kaunis hit .467 with two home runs and 17 RBIs, striking out just seven times in 60 at-bats. The junior also finished with a deceiving 2-4 record on the mound with a 1.56 ERA, while striking out 51 and walking 16.
O'Neal hit .339 with 17 RBIs, while finishing with a 2.29 ERA.
Meyer batted .387 with 17 RBIs, while Price hit.272 and committed just two errors on the year.