2012 ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Seniors once again led the way on the baseball field this year.
In Solon Springs, the Eagles senior-dominated team advanced all the way to the regional championships. Northwood and Northwestern both relied on their seniors to help lead younger players who played key roles; and in Superior the junior and senior players came together make the Spartans a viable threat this season.
Joining Grant Rindal on this year’s All-Area Team are seven seniors and two juniors.
Also nominated were seniors Chris and Eric Olson from Northwood; junior Austin Meyer from Northwood; and senior Nolan Graff from Northwestern.
Phil Larson has been a star athlete for Solon Springs in football and basketball during his four years of high school, but he didn’t show up on the baseball diamond until his senior season.
“It was hard to tell that Phil hadn’t played baseball since he was in the eighth grade,” said Nate Ahlberg, head coach of the Eagles. “Phil emerged as our starting catcher shortly into the season, and brought stability to that position left vacant after 2011 All-Area member Josh Taylor moved.”
Larson finished the season batting .394 with a .506 on-base percentage. He had four double, 12 RBIs and 24 runs scored to go along with 14 stolen bases.
“Phil struggled at the plate early in the season, but his average was well above .400 during the month of May,” Ahlberg said. “Phil also became a spot-starter for us on the mound, pitching in mostly non-conference games.”
Larson finished the season 2-1 as a pitcher with a .579 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings pitched.
He was named honorable mention for the Indianhead All-Conference baseball team.
At the plate, Tyler Long was the Eagles’ big hitter. On the mound, he was their most consistent pitcher.
The junior led Solon Springs in on-base percentage (.557), slugging percentage (.632) and doubles (10) this season. He was also the team leader in pitching wins (4), strikeouts (68) and opponents’ batting average (.221).
“Tyler had another fantastic season,” Ahlberg said. “He’s established himself as a dominant player in the Indianhead, both as a pitcher and hitter.”
Long, who also spent time at short stop, finished the season with a .421 batting average and 27 runs scored. He also had 19 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
As a pitcher, Long was 4-3 for the year in 45 2/3 innings pitched.
“Tyler started out slow on the mound, losing his first three starts,” Ahlberg said. “He rebounded by winning his final four regular season starts, including a one-hit shutout of Bayfield and a three-hit shutout of Mellen.”
Long was named to the Indianhead All-Conference first team. He was the second overall vote-getter in the conference.
Nik Mattson was the anchor behind the plate for the Superior High School baseball team this season.
“Nik does a tremendous job of catching our staff,” said Don Dembroski, SHS head coach. “We have two guys (Ryan Myhre and Grant Rindal) with above average velocity and movement, and it was nice to know I could count on Nik to handle receiving those guys.”
Mattson had an error-free season this year and was named the Spartans’ Defensive MVP. His ability to control the base paths also gave Superior and edge.
“Nik’s two-time was also impressive,” Dembroski said. “Because of his ability to throw out runners, he was able to take away the running game from many of our opponents.”
Mattson’s 55.5 percentage for runners caught stealing (10 of 18) puts him second on the record list.
Mattson can also hit for power, Dembroski said.
The junior was second on the team in total hits with 21, including a pair of home runs, and added 15 runs scored and eight RBIs. He had a .309 batting average, .426 slugging percentage and .373 on-base percentage.
“Nik also has tremendous work ethic,” Dembroski said. “He was one of a small handful of guys that would take extra B.P. after practice.”
Mattson was named to the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference second team. He was a team captain for the Spartans this season and was also voted to be a team captain next season.
For most of his high school career, Ryan Myhre was utilized as a pitcher. The senior was back on the mound again this season for the Spartans, but he also stepped into the field to help the team.
“Ryan was one of our top pitchers over the last two years,” Dembroski said. “Ryan has an above average fastball and tremendous movement with his pitches.
“Ryan also plays tremendous defense. He was a real anchor at first base and also did a great job
of filling in at shortstop and third base for us this spring.”
Myhre finished with a .990 fielding percentage, with one error in 85 putouts and 17 assists.
On the mound he compiled a 2-1 record with 31 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .233 batting average. Myhre also claimed the seventh best WHIP ratio (1.17) this year in Superior’s all-time single season records.
Myhre earned the Spartan Character Award this season while serving as a team captain and is headed to St. Cloud State next year on a scholarship.
First basemen are typically known as big hitters, and senior Wes Ogren was no exception for the Northwestern Tigers this season.
“Wes had a solid year for us,” said Steve Lahti, head coach of the Tigers. “He worked hard every time he stepped on the field. He had a really good year for us and will be missed next year.”
Ogren was the top batter for Northwestern. He led the Tigers with a .356 batting average, eight doubles and one triple.
He was named the Tigers’ MVP for the season and was also selected for Heart O’ North All-Conference first-team honors.
Andrew Perry was the ultimate utility player for Northwestern. One day he’d be in the outfield and the next he’d be behind the plate or on the mound.
Wherever the Tigers had an opening, Perry would fill in.
“Andrew had to pitch, catch, play outfield and some infield for us,” Lahti said. “Andrew is a versatile player and has the ability to be successful at any position.”
Perry, a senior, finished the season with a .325 batting average, four doubles and three triples. He was named to the HON All-Conference second team.
Junior Spencer Severson split time between shortstop and pitcher this season, but where he was most important for Superior was at the plate.
“Spencer was one of our top hitters all season,” Dembroski said.” “Spencer was another one of those guys who could always be found taking extra BP after practice.”
Severson led the Spartans in total hits (25) and RBIs (13) with a .338 batting average. He finished the year with a .419 slugging percentage and a .375 on-base percentage to go along with his 10 runs scored.
“Spencer brings a fun, but yet competitive personality to our team and is a good leader,” Dembroski said.
Severson was voted to serve as a captain next season and was named Superior’s Offensive MVP this season. He was also named to the LSC All-Conference second team this year.
Cody Utyro provided the Eagles with speed and timely hitting this season as he split time between pitcher and first base.
“Cody put together a great senior season, both on the mound and at the plate,” Ahlberg said. “Cody led the team in RBIs from the clean-up spot in the lineup, but also had the speed to lead the team in steals and triples.”
Utyro finished the year with 27 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He hit a team-best .458 with runners in scoring position and had an overall .403 batting average, a .543 on-base percentage and a .528 slugging percentage.
On the mound, Utyro had the Eagles’ best ERA (.341). He finished with a 3-4 record, striking out 35 in 41 innings pitched and holding opponents to a .266 average.
“Cody took control of our No. 2 spot in the rotation, and threw solidly all season,” Ahlberg said.
Utyro was named honorable mention on the Indianhead All-Conference team.
“Kevin had an outstanding senior season,” Ahlberg said. “He batted leadoff for the last two thirds of the season and was a big key to our success.”
Zamzow led the Eagles in total hits (30), batting average (.423) and runs scored (34). He had 15 RBIs and 17 stolen bases for Solon Springs while averaging a .548 on-base percentage and a .535 slugging percentage.
Alhberg said Zamzow could also be counted on as a solid defender. The senior committed just four errors at second base to end the year with a .939 fielding percentage.
“It will be difficult to replace the speed, bat and glove of Kevin,” Ahlberg said.
Zamzow was named to the Indianhead All-Conference first team. He received the ninth most votes overall in the conference.