Trio of Vikings earn first -team AKC honors

The North Kitsap Vikings baseball team will most certainly look back upon its 2007 season with the fondest of memories. North advanced to the first round of the state regional playoffs before being knocked off by Redmond 16-2 in its first contest. Despite the loss at state regionals, the Vikes finished as one of the top 16 Class 4A teams in Washington.

The North Kitsap Vikings baseball team will most certainly look back upon its 2007 season with the fondest of memories.

North advanced to the first round of the state regional playoffs before being knocked off by Redmond 16-2 in its first contest.

Despite the loss at state regionals, the Vikes finished as one of the top 16 Class 4A teams in Washington.

AKC first-team members Joe Benish, Kelly Wells and Andy Smith were major reasons why the Vikings put together such a successful season, posting a 16-7 overall record. Second baseman Jesse Cummings and third baseman Kramer Uvila nabbed AKC honorable mention honors for the Vikings as well.

The All-Kitsap County teams are compiled by the sports writers for the Bainbridge Island Review, the Bremerton Patriot, the Central Kitsap Reporter, the North Kitsap Herald and the Port Orchard Independent. Candidates for the team are nominated by the writers for their respective areas. The nominees are then voted on by the writers, with the top vote-getters making the teams. Two honorable mentions are selected from each school for each sport. The teams include the best players from area schools that not only performed well individually, but played a role in the success of their team as well.

Below is the All-Kitsap County Baseball Team. The AKC boys soccer and girls softball teams will follow.

All-Kitsap County

Baseball Team

P – David Stilley, Central Kitsap – A senior, Stilley showed what he was truly made of for CK. Despite pitching with a torn ligament that would require Tommy John surgery the week before the Cougars played Bothell in the regional round of the state playoffs, Stilley still put up great numbers, going 4-1 with a 0.79 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .145 against him, making it easy to see why the Washington State University Cougars signed Stilley, surgery and all.

P – Kelly Wells, North Kitsap – Wells was a bona fide No. 1 starter for the Vikings this year. He compiled a 7-2 record while posting a 1.82 ERA in the regular season. Perhaps his most prolific performance of 2007 came when his team needed it the most, tossing a complete game against Graham-Kapowsin in a district playoff, allowing just three runs and 10 hits in a contest that clinched the Vikings a berth in the state regional playoffs.

“Kelly did a great job of coming back and battling all game long,” Vikings coach Jeff Weible said after the May 12 game. “He was scrappy today. I felt really confident about having Kelly go the whole way. We stayed with him. He did a great job and did it for us.”

P – Tal Glass, Bainbridge – The senior and former member of the 2001 Bainbridge Little League All-Star team that went to the World Series was the ace on the mound for the Spartans this season, going 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA and 18 strikeouts versus just seven walks. He was one of the keys in Bainbridge’s drive to the playoffs this season.

P – Brad Johnson, South Kitsap – When South Kitsap, which won 10 of its last 13 games, needed a quality win, Johnson usually was on the mound. The junior had a 6-3 record with a 1.86 ERA and also had 37 strikeouts while allowing 16 walks in 60 innings. South coach Jim Fairweather said the Wolves’ No. 1 starter can be even better next season as he improves his conditioning.

P – KJ McLean, Central Kitsap – With Stilley not 100 percent, the Cougars needed an arm to rise up along side him, and McLean, a senior, was that arm. McLean, the team’s leader in wins out of the bullpen a year ago, went 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA. In 36 2/3 innings, he struck out 54 batters, holding to opposition to the .196 average.

C – Joe Benish, North Kitsap – Benish not only was the best catcher in Kitsap County, but was arguably one of the top players in Washington. He finished his senior campaign with the highest batting average on the team (.441), 24 RBIs, and a team-high six HR for North. Benish’s .831 slugging percentage was far and away one of the top percentages in the entire state. Viking opponents didn’t like to take their chances pitching to Benish if they didn’t have to, as Benish finished the regular season with a team-high 12 walks.

1B – Caleb Brown, Central Kitsap – While CK’s arms did an outstanding job in vaulting the Cougars to state, it was the high-octane offense, fronted by Brown, that drubbed opponents throughout the year. Brown swung a .438 clip for CK, belting six homers and driving in an astronomical 29 RBIs. While Brown also scored 19 runs, his solid glove helped anchor down CK’s solid infield defense.

2B – Tyler Sartor, South Kitsap – The junior hit leadoff all season for the Wolves and finished with a team-best six doubles and 14 stolen bases. He also hit .341 with a home run, six RBI and a triple. Fairweather said he also did a “stellar job (defensively) and turned a fair amount of double plays.”

SS – Trace Jordan, Bremerton – The Bremerton senior was a diamond in the rough for the three-win Knights, providing the team’s most consistent bat, strongest glove and top source of leadership. Jordan, who also competed in district tennis this spring, hit .360 with 18 stolen bases, flashing one of the league’s top gloves up the middle of the infield.

3B – Rusty Devitt, Klahowya – Devitt was multipositional for the Eagles this season, proving to be just as vital for Klahowya at the plate and on the mound. Ultimately, Devitt played a major role in the Eagles’ return to state. Offensively, Devitt hit .417 with 15 runs, 13 RBIs and seven steals. As one of the Eagles’ top arms, he went 3-3 with a 4.76 ERA, no-hitting North Mason in loser-out district game. Devitt also struck out 56 batters in 34 innings, while striking out just six times in 48 at bats himself.

OF – Andy Smith, North Kitsap – Sophomores rarely make the kind of impact Vikings center fielder Andy Smith did this season. The left-handed leadoff hitter showed the entire league he belonged in his first year as a starter. Smith finished with a .431 batting average and scored a team-high 29 runs for North. He also had a team-high 12 stolen bases. Smith’s speed in the outfield enabled him to possess incredible range, allowing him to track fly balls most outfielders couldn’t get to.

OF – Colin Bowman, Bainbridge – The junior was solid as the leadoff man for the Spartans this season, batting .419 with an .481 on-base percentage, 16 runs, 13 stolen bases, five doubles, two triples and 10 RBIs. He also made solid plays in the outfield.

OF – Brad Durham, Central Kitsap – Durham was another reason CK’s offense was able to bring a high-powered attack game in and game out, hitting .431 and tying Brown for the team lead with six homers. Durham also drove in 20 runs, scoring 14 himself. Also a senior, Durham was another key cog in CK’s state run.

UTL – Ronnie Purser, Olympic – Like his Olympic League counterpart Devitt, Purser was another that excelled both on the mound and in the batter’s box. The Trojan senior was the team’s ace, finishing 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. Purser also swung his bat to the tune of .397, scoring 13 runs and knocking in 11 RBIs.

UTL – Aaron Smothers, South Kitsap – One of the league’s top catchers, Smothers was one of three Wolves who hit better than .400 this season with a team-best .433 batting average. Smothers also had four doubles, a home run and 17 RBIs and finished with a team-high .583 on-base percentage. The Wolves’ quarterback during football season, Fairweather said he also was a leader behind the plate and became the first catcher to call every game in the coach’s four-year tenure.

“He was very consistent behind the plate,” Fairweather said. “Aaron took a lot of pride in blocking the plate and that’s important on our field.”

South has a lot of foul territory behind home plate.

Coach of the year – Bill Baxter, Central Kitsap – Baxter entered this season with a group of seniors that had come close to advancing to state throughout their high school careers, only to fall short each time. But this season, Baxter helped inspire his players to make the leap, vaulting CK back to the state tournament for the first time since 1996. The Cougars finished the season with the Narrows League crown and an overall record of 17-6, riding a 14-game win steak into the postseason that wasn’t halted until the team’s regional-round loss to Bothell.

Honorable Mentions

Utility – Colin Feldtman, Bainbridge

2B – Jesse Cummings, North Kitsap – The steady senior was the model of consistency for the North Kitsap Vikings baseball squad. Cummings was particularly adept at putting the ball in play, collecting 28 hits while only striking out twice the entire season.

OF – Casey Bohlmann, Central Kitsap

UTL – Elliot Thorsen, Olympic

C – Chris Miller, Klahowya

UTL – Josh Horst, Bremerton

DH – Matt Miller, South Kitsap

1B – Robbie Stevenson, Bainbridge

3B – Kramer Uvila, North Kitsap – Uvila had a tendency to crush the ball into the outfield where defensive players couldn’t get to. Uvila finished with a team-high nine doubles for North. He also finished with a .369 batting average and drove in 18 runs as well.

SS – Dan Zylstra, Central Kitsap

INF – Jeremy Huffman, Olympic

OF – Jordan Green, Klahowya

IF – Brady Steiger, South Kitsap