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Telegram Player of the Year: Gibson dived headfirst into baseball season

On the baseball field in Solon Springs, third baseman Riley Gibson was always easy to spot.

“His uniform was the dirtiest after each game from all the diving attempts at third base,” said Nate Ahlberg, Solon Springs head coach.

Even when a ball seemed to be out of reach, Gibson would still make the attempt. His approach to the game was relentless, Ahlberg said

At the plate, the senior took the same dogged approach.

Gibson, the 2014 Superior Telegram Baseball Player of the Year, led Solon Springs in nearly every offensive category.

He batted .500 for the season with a .564 on-base percentage and a .659 slugging percentage — all team-best numbers. Gibson’s 22 hits, including five doubles and a triple, and 16 RBIs also led the team.

“Great last season for us,” Ahlberg said. “He loves the game of baseball and plays with a lot of heart.”

Gibson struck out only four times in his senior season and was named to the Indianhead All-Conference first team.

“He was a great person to have around and he was a lot of fun,” said senior teammate CJ Zamzow.

Gibson, originally from the Detroit area, played baseball for the Eagles for the past three years. The senior improved each year, Ahlberg said, and his focus on the game was remarkable.

“I think baseball is one of the things that keeps him going,” Ahlberg said.

In his senior year, Gibson never took a day off, which in some cases meant playing through pain.

He had a nagging ankle injury for most of the season, but Zamzow said you’d never have known it watching him play.

“He loved baseball, so he never let it bother him,” Zamzow said. “He never talked about it.”

“Riley often has an injury,” Ahlberg said. “However, he asks to be taped up and sent back out to play.”

Ahlberg said Gibson’s determination made him a leader for the Eagles this year.

Gibson and Zamzow were the only senior starters on the roster, so the two worked together to help their younger teammates get a feel for the varsity game.

On the field, they joined forces to anchor the infield.

Zamzow said many of his highlights from the season came when he teamed up with Gibson on defensive plays.

He can recall many times when Gibson made a diving stop and fired the ball to him at first base for the out. Other times Zamzow would be the one to scoop up a grounder, and he could always count on Gibson to be in position for the throw.

“There were a couple of good plays we made, Riley and me,” Zamzow said.

Gibson will be hard to replace next season, Ahlberg said, but he enjoyed the opportunity to coach the senior.

“His determination will be missed,” he said.