To say that this season was a struggle for high school baseball players in the batters’ box is a bit of an understatement.
The new BBCOR bat is designed to increase safety for prep players because the speed of the ball off the bat is slower.
That has the side effect of reducing the offense stats for this season, even for the best of our area that we’ve named to The North Jefferson News All-Star Baseball Team for 2012.
Batting averages plunged, and home runs bordered on extinction, with the two biggest teams in the area smacking just four homers between them — for the entire season.
And while batters hated the new sticks, pitchers loved them. That has a lot to do with why our most valuable player for this team made his name on the mound.
Chris Walton was the top hurler for a Gardendale squad that won a Jefferson County Schools championship over Hueytown. The junior led the Rockets with six wins, 54 strikeouts a 2.07 earned-run average and 641/3 innings pitched in 15 games and 10 starts.
Walton was closely followed by teammate Bryce Jay, who compiled a 5-3 record and a 2.51 ERA. He was also the top hitter for Gardendale with a .373 average and a .510 slugging percentage, with six doubles and four triples.
The local team with the most success this year in terms of playoff runs didn’t play in the AHSAA. Tabernacle Christian made it all the way to the championship game of the Alabama Christian Education Association, where they were defeated by Tuscaloosa Christian. The Torches had their way with the league most of the season, earning Tim Thompson our selection as NJN Coach of the Year.
Tabernacle saw good production up and down its order and its pitching staff, making it difficult to choose the best of the lot. But three Torches stood out: C.J. White, Joe Zassoda and Jordan Foshee.
Overall, the season was a bit of a struggle for most local public-school teams, with only Fultondale and Gardendale advancing to the AHSAA playoffs, and both of them being swept out in the first round.
Mortimer Jordan saw its post-season hopes vanish in the last area game, but still saw top efforts from Garrett Suchey, who led the Blue Devil starters in both batting average (.351), home runs (he had all three of Jordan’s dungers this year) and ERA (1.60, with a 4-4 record). Suchey is joined by teammates Trey Rogers and Ty Miller.
2012 NJN ALL-STAR BASEBALL TEAM
MVP: CHRIS WALTON, Gardendale
GARRETT SUCHEY, Mort. Jordan
C.J. WHITE, Tabernacle Chr.
BRYCE JAY, Gardendale
TY MILLER, Mortimer Jordan
SAM McCOMBS, Hayden
BLAKE BYRD, Corner
TREY ROGERS, Mortimer Jordan
JOE ZASSODA, Tabernacle Chr.
JORDAN FOSHEE, Tabernacle Chr.
BLAKE DONALDSON, Fultondale
CHRIS BLAKEY, Gardendale
COACH: TIM THOMPSON, Tabernacle Christian