Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Nathanael Samarin completed a run through the Hawks’ record books by pitching the Hawks to two straight Div. V Championships. He was the winning pitcher in the last two championships and is the school record holder in RBIs. His all-around play gives him the nod for The Madera Tribune’s Most Valuable Player.
Most Valuable Player
Nathanael Samarin, Sr. 1B-3B-P Liberty
Stats: .394 BA, 32 R, 37 H, 36 RBI, 7 2B, .464 OBP, .531 SP, 8-4, 2.71 ERA 62 IP, 50 K, 10 BB.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team North Sequoia League/4-time All-Madera Tribune team
Samarin is the only four-time member of the All-Madera Tribune team. He capped off his career with a complete game victory over Washington Union to send the Hawks to the Div. V semifinals and then tossed a complete game four-hitter over Minarets to help Liberty win the Div. V championship. He almost had an RBI per hit. He led the team in RBIs and was third on the team in doubles and tied for first with three triples. He also led the team in wins with eight. He finished tied for second all-time with 123 hits, set the school record with 102 career RBIs and was fourth with 96 run scored. His 21 doubles are fourth and 10 triples is third in school history. Samarin was the winning pitcher in the last two Div. V Central Section championship games. He will go down as one of the best players in Liberty Hawks history. He is also the first Liberty player to win the Tribune’s Most Valuable Player award.
Pitcher of the Year
Nikayha Castro, Sr. P Madera
Stats: 8-3, 1.95 ERA, 75.1 IP, 52 K, 56 H, .274 BA, 20 H, 4 2B, 12 RBI.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team County/Metro Athletic Conference/2-time All-Madera Tribune team
Castro emerged as the ace of the Coyotes’ staff. He had some trouble in the first inning, but once he found a rhythm, it was lights out for opposing batters. He was the pitcher that wanted the ball and wanted the weight on his backs and he was more than capable of putting the Coyotes on his back. He, by far, led the Coyotes in ERA and innings pitched. He was the only Coyote to record more than four wins on the mound. He also hit well in the No. 5 spot in the Coyotes’ order, driving in 12 runs. He is the second straight Madera pitcher and fourth overall to earn the Pitcher of the Year.
Offensive Player of the Year
Chase Schellenger, Sr. SS Liberty
Stats: .442 BA, 42 H, 37 R, 21 RBI, 12 2B, .551 OBP, .631 SP.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team NSL/2-time All-Madera Tribune team
In the No. 2 spot in a batting order, you want someone that can handle a bat. They should be able to get on base in case the lead-off batter doesn’t get on or they have to be able to move or drive in the lead-off batter. Schellenger was both for the hawks. He led the team in batting average, runs scored, hits and doubles. He was also fourth in RBIs while anchoring the team at shortstop.
Colton Cardoza, Sr. C Liberty
Stats: .347, 24 R, 26 H, 22 RBI, 7 2B.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team NSL/3-time All-Tribune team
Cardoza was one of the most imposing clean-up hitters in the Central Section. The bruiser was the right bat to protect Samarin, who usually batted in the third spot. He was third on the team with 22 RBIs and also fifth with 24 runs scored. What made Cardoza even more impressive was he called the pitches during the game. He helped Samarin return to form with back-to-back complete games in the playoffs to lead the Hawks to their second straight Div. V championship. He also received an All-Madera Tribune award for football as a tight end and linebacker.
Tommy Molina, Sr. 1B Madera
Stats: .360 BA, 36 H, 16 2B, 26 RBI, 16 R.
All-League/All-Tribune: 2nd team CMAC/1st All-Tribune team
Almost half of Molina’s hits went for doubles. He led the team in doubles while no other player
recorded double-digits. He also led the team in RBIs while hitting from the No. 3 spot in the order. He had smooth feet and a quick glove at first base. He was also called in to pitch a few times and became one of Andy Underwood’s more trusted relievers. Also earned All-Madera Tribune honors in football.
Kristian Gomez, Sr. IF Madera
Stats: .354 BA, 26 H, 9 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 18 R.
All-League/All-Tribune: Honorable Mention CMAC/2-time All-Madera Tribune team
Gomez was the utility knife Underwood used. He could play second, third and also pitch. He was one of the team leaders in batting average and usually hit behind Molina. He was third on the team in RBIs, but was second in doubles. He also walked more than he struck out. Gomez was solid on the infield and had great chemistry with shortstop Cole Brincefield.
Jakson Bucher, Fr. 2B Liberty
Stats: .320 BA, 19 R, 24 H, 17 RBI, 4 2B.
All-League/All-Tribune: Underclassman of the Year in NSL, 2nd team NSL/1st All-Tribune team
For the second year in a row, Mario Cosma’s Hawks had a freshman contribute to the team. He provided solid defense, but he also helped the bottom of the line-up contribute. He had solid numbers across the board while leading off the bottom of the line-up in the sixth spot.
Cole Brincefield, Sr. SS Madera
Stats: .406 BA, 39 H, 7 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 32 R.
All-League/All-Tribune: 2nd team CMAC/2nd All-Tribune team
Why Brincefield didn’t earn first team nods escapes this writer. He led the Coyotes from the lead off spot and was the engine that made the Coyotes run. He was second on the team with a .406 batting average while leading the team in hits, triples and home runs. He was third in doubles and third in RBIs to go with his team-leading 32 runs scored. He sometimes had troubles with the routine plays at short, but made it up with some remarkable plays the next time.
A.J. Rocha, Soph. IF Madera South
Stats: .267 BA, 20 H, 7 R, 5 2B.
All-League/All-Tribune: Honorable Mention CMAC/1st All-Tribune team
Rocha was a leader on and off the field for the Stallions. He was able to play third and second, but could also move to short. He also pitched a few innings, but he did most of his damage at the plate. He finished third on the team in batting average, led the team in doubles and was second in hits.
Quaid Copher, Soph. IF-P Liberty
Stats: .370 BA, 35 R, 34 H, 11 RBI, 8 2B, 11 SB, 6-1, 1.38 ERA, 40.2 IP, 34 K, 11 BB.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team NSL/2nd All-Tribune team
Copher was an important cog to Cosma’s Valley Championship team. Although a sophomore, Copher showed the poise of a senior while batting lead-off for the Valley Champs. He struck out just seven times in 111 plate appearances while walking 13 times for a .459 on base percentage. He scored more runs than hits and was third on the team in doubles. Copher had the lowest ERA of the three pitchers Cosma used. He also earned All-Tribune honors in basketball.
Trevor Porter, Jr. OF Liberty
Stats: .337 BA, 17 R, 28 H, 18 RBI, 9 2B, 14 SB.
All-League/All-Tribune: None/1st All-Tribune team
Porter returned to baseball after taking a year off and it didn’t look like it. He settled into the No. 5 spot in the Liberty line-up and gave Cardoza quality protection. He was a do-it-all player. He could hit for power and average while also stealing a base and playing quality defense in left field when the sun wasn’t in his eyes. Porter also earned All-Tribune honors in football.
Bradley Moon, Sr. OF Liberty
Stats: .383 BA, 27 R, 36 H, 24 RBI, 4 2B, 26 SB.
All-League/All-Tribune: 2nd team NSL/3-time All-Tribune team
Moon is one of two players to earn an All-Tribune selection three times (Cardoza) and deservedly so. He was third on the team in batting average and fourth in runs while leading the team in centerfield. He was solid in the middle of the outfield and his favorite catch was the fly ball for the final out of the Valley Championship game. He also earned All-Tribune awards in football.
Shane Pursell, Sr. OF Madera
Stats: .372 BA, 29 H, 19 R, 8 2B, HR, 19 SB.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team CMAC/2-time All-Tribune team
Pursell was probably the most exciting player to watch on the field. In center, Pursell was smooth. He read balls well and threw accurately. However, it was when he was sent to the mound that hurt his, and Madera’s, season. He missed a few games this season because of an arm injury and then hurt his knee. His loss was felt throughout the line-up. He was the one player that could reach base by hit or bunt, but also had the power for extra base hits and he accomplished one of his biggest individual goals with his first career home run this year.
Jonathan Ramirez, Jr. OF Madera
Stats: .413 BA, 31 H, 8 2B, HR, 22 RBI.
All-League/All-Tribune: 1st team CMAC/1st All-Tribune team
Ramirez was the quiet bat in the Coyotes line-up. While most of the opponents were worried bout Pursell, Brincefield and Molina, Ramirez was the player they had to worry about. He led the team in batting average, was third in hits, third in doubles and third in doubles. Ramirez was actually the fastest player on the team beating Pursell in a foot race and he swiped nine bags this year.
Jalen Gray, Sr. Uti Madera South
Stats: .295 BA, 23 H, 9 R, 4 2B.
All-League/All-Tribune: Honorable Mention CMAC/1st All-Tribune team
Gray was the other leader for the Stallions on and off the field. The quiet leader led the team in bating average, hits, runs and was second in doubles for the young Stallions. He got a chance to play with his brother in his final year at Madera South and soaked in the experience, especially getting a chance to play in the City/County All-Star baseball game. He pitched, played first, third and shortstop for Madera South.
Gage Arter, Sr. P-IF Liberty
Stats: 16 H, 16 R, 15 RBI, 7-3, 1.51 ERA, 60 1/3 IP, 39 K, 6 BB.
All-League/All Tribune: 2nd team NSL/2nd All-Tribune team
Arter was the co-ace of the staff. When Cosma decided to give Samarin a break, Arter stepped up as the ace of the staff. He was second in innings pitched and ERA. He struck out 39 batters, but walked just six. He was your typical pitch to contact pitcher and needed a good defense behind him. In his losses, it was the defense that led to his downfall. He allowed 33 runs this season, most on the team. However, 20 of those runs were unearned.