Pine player, coach win major district awards

Published 12:29 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

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Pine’s Chase Cooper is the District 9-2A MVP for the 2022 season.

This is Cooper’s second league MVP.

“Everytime I step on the baseball field, I always try my hardest,” Cooper said. “This year, I got it and tried to beat my stats from last year. My goal this season was to bat .500 and I came up just short of it. My strikeout rate was up a lot from last year (on the mound). I was definitely dialed in this year and did a lot better than I did last year.”

This season, Cooper posted an 8-1 record with a 1.67 earned run average. Cooper tallied 114 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 58-2/3 innings.

At the plate, Cooper hit .463 with 15 doubles, four triples, 29 runs scored and 26 runs batted in. Cooper reached base at a .591 clip. He struck out just three times this season.

Cooper talked about his key to being successful.

“I had to show up ready to play everytime I stepped on the field, no matter if it was practice or a game,” Cooper said.

His coach Blake Dillon is the league’s Coach of the Year after helping the Raiders to the District 9-2A title with a 10-0 record. Pine reached the regional round of the playoffs this year, but was defeated by the eventual state champion Rosepine, 6-4 and 21-1 in a best-of-3 series.

“It’s an honor to be voted coach of the year by my fellow coaches in our district,” Dillon said. “This is an award that really goes to show what type of kids we have in our program. Our kids buy into our coaching philosophy and love to be taught and this has resulted in winning district championships and being able to be voted coach of the year. I have a great coaching staff including Peyton McDaniel and Trevor Stuart, one of my former players, who teaches and coaches exactly the way I see the game. I still have a lot more goals to accomplish in my career and I’m really excited about the future of Raider baseball!”

Several more Pine players are first teamers, including catcher Trey Knight, pitcher Luke Spears, infielder Bryson Thomas, outfielders Luke Lemaire and Brandon Sprehe and utility player Ethan Ryals.

This season, Knight reached base at a .305 clip and slugged .321 with 12 runs batted in and nine runs scored. Knight doubled four times.

Spears posted a 3.26 earned run average with 18 strikeouts and 12 walks in 34-1/3 innings. At the plate, Spears hit .250 with a .333 on base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage. Spears had two doubles and a triple, he drove in four runs and scored 11 runs.

Thomas batted .339 with a .506 on base and a .452 slugging with five doubles, a triple, 23 RBIs and 25 runs scored.

Lemaire posted a .333 average, .413 on base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage with seven doubles, two triples, 16 runs batted and he scored 27 runs.

Sprehe hit .267, while reaching base at a .471 runs scored. Sprehe doubled twice and tripled three times.

On the mound, Sprehe went 6-1 and pitched to a 3.04 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 28 walks over 23 innings.

Ryals had a .258 batting average, .443 on base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage with six doubles, a triple, 18 RBIs and 28 runs scored.

Varnado has four players on the first team, including pitcher Jamari Lewis, infielder Quantrell Robertson, outfielder Quovadis Bickham and utility player Jabari Robinson.

Pine had one second-team player in infielder Aiden Wiggins.

This season, Wiggins hit .259 with a .468 on base percentage and a .352 slugging percentage. Wiggins doubled three times, tripled once, drove in 14 runs and scored 20 runs.

Varnado also had one second-team player in utility player Tyran Holmes.

The rest of the first team includes Independence pitcher Logan Lavigne.

Independence teammates Jeremiah Sampson, Brent Miller and David Johnson along with Amite’s Earl Jackson are on the infield with Independence’s Gary Zanders and Amite’s Lenard Brumfield in the outfield.

The rest of the second-team players are Independence catcher Jordan Robertson, Amite infielder Christian Smith and Independence outfielders Domonic Hayno and Christian Wright.

Independence reached the playoffs, but lost to Winnfield, who made it to the regional round, 18-1.