MORE STATE BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

Since our Mr. Baseball winner was from a medium school, we had to choose an honoree from among large schools this year (big shock who we gave that to). Other statewide honors for Brian Schroeder, Chuck Lofgren, Johnny Drennen and Casey Haerther.

Large Schools: Delmon Young (Camarillo)

Young's power numbers were down from a year ago, but his .523 batting average and 40 runs scored still showed the force that he is. For career stats, Young also will go down as one of the state's all-time best players (right alongside his brother). He finished with 35 homers, 180 hits, 150 RBI and 158 runs scored. That's not small school competition, either. That's Southern Section Division I.

Medium Schools: Ian Stewart (La Quinta, Westminster)

Also named top senior and overall Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year.

Small Schools: Brian Schroeder (Christian, El Cajon)

The son of former NFL quarterback Jay Schroeder led the Patriots to the CIF San Diego Section Div. IV title with his bat and his arm. At the plate, Schroeder blasted 12 home runs and had a .480 average. On the mound, he set section records for career wins (34) and career strikeouts (376).

Juniors: Chuck Lofgren (Serra, San Mateo)

The Class of 2004 in California, at least at the very top of the individual rankings, looks absolutely fabulous and this was one selection that could have gone to a number of other players. Along with Lofgren, the tight pack includes Matt Bush from Mission Bay of San Diego, Trevor Plouffe from Crespi of Encino, Matt Aidem of Valencia, Eric Berger from Woodcreek of Roseville, Jason Dominguez of Chatsworth and Jason Corder from Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo. Of those players, the only one with hitting and pitching numbers better than Lofgren was Plouffe, but Lofgren's Serra team was judged to have played a stronger schedule than Plouffe's Crespi team. Lofgren, Bush and Berger were the only three California juniors who were named last week to be on this summer's USA Junior National Team. Lofgren, a strapping 6-3, 200-pounder, led Serra to a 30-5 record with a .414 batting average, 10 homers and 38 RBI. The pitching is what could be his meal ticket to a high first-round draft position next year, though, as Lofgren is left-handed and has been clocked with a 94 mph fastball. He had a 1.75 ERA this season with an 8-0 record plus 102 strikeouts in 76 innings. Being from the same high school as Barry Bonds, Gregg Jefferies, Jim Fregosi and so many others will only add to the hype Lofgren should generate next spring.

Sophomores: Johnny Drennen (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego)

A first-team All-San Diego Section pick, Drennen is one of those leadoff hitters with speed and power. The outfielder led the Broncos with 14 home runs (one off the reported sophomore state record) and hit at a .400 clip. Drennen should certainly take his place in the long line of top players who've been under the tutelage of Rancho Bernardo head coach Sam Blalock.

Freshmen: Casey Haerther (Chaminade, West Hills)

The younger brother of 2002 all-stater Cody Haerther won seven varsity starts as a pitcher and had an approximate ERA of 2.50. He hit two of his three home runs in one game. The freshman pick (based on varsity performance only, not JV) is always difficult, unless you have an obvious one like Delmon Young three years ago. Casey isn't an obvious one, but did have that combination of pitching and hitting potential you always like in a player of the year. Casey's coach is Mark Gubicza, the former major league pitcher.


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