When you start evaluating the superlatives in both softball and baseball for the 2017 season, a great year in both sports did create some separation.
By the Memorial Day weekend, plenty of teams were still in contention for state championships.
The talent level probably hasn’t been this good … ever. Grapevine baseball returning to the Class 5A state tournament to defend its title wasn’t a fluke. Keller Fossil Ridge and Justin Northwest enjoyed historic seasons. Keller Timber Creek softball put together another strong season. Northwest V.R. Eaton softball broke through into the regional quarterfinals in its first year as a varsity program.
We were dealing with a wealth of talent in Northeast Tarrant County. While stressful, this was a good problem to have.
Player of the Year
Dylann Kaderka, Soph, RHP, Keller: A program looking for its second consecutive state championship and fourth overall in school history turned the ball over to the unknown Kaderka. All she was doing was replacing a legend in Kaylee Rogers.
But if there’s anything the Keller softball program is always good at is that players understand and want to live up to the expectations. After some early season scuffles, Kaderka dominated. She led Keller to a 30-5 record and the Class 6A state championship. Kaderka finished 20-3 with a 1.67 earned-run average combined between the regular season and postseason.
While the numbers are impressive, Kaderka managed to keep everything on an even plane.
Coach of the Year
Bryan Poehler, Keller: You’re in your fourth year as a head coach of an already storied program. Your task is to try and maintain the amount of success that has been experienced.
In half of his time at Keller, Poehler has done more than probably what could have been envisioned. He’s taken Keller to back-to-back state championships. The mark of a successful coach is winning state championships or at least contending for them when the talent turns over.
In these consecutive state championship runs, Poehler has won them with different starting pitchers, Rogers and Kaderka. Talent always wins out. But a coach must get those talented players to perform at a high level.
Player of the Year
Alex Scherff, Sr., RHP, Colleyville Heritage: Selected in the fifth round of the MLB first-year player draft last week, Scherff is already off to the pros after signing with Boston for roughly $700,000.
Scherff’s well-traveled high school career finished in the best possible way. He went 15-0 with a 0.79 ERA. A big fastball complemented by a quality change-up and decent slider made Scherff the most feared pitcher in all of Class 5A, maybe the state.
In two starts against rival Grapevine, Scherff threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter. While Colleyville Heritage just missed advancing to the Class 5A state tournament, the Region I final appearance was the deepest run in school history.
Coach of the Year
Larry Vucan, Southlake Carroll: After the Class 6A Region I championship victory over Arlington Martin, friends and fellow coaches joked with Vucan that reaching the state tournament every year is the way it has to be. Anything else won’t be acceptable.
But if you’re going to break into a new job and make your mark, taking your team to Round Rock is the way to do it. Mixing in a pretty young roster with some key seniors in catcher Ross Cadena and pitcher Kole Ramage, the Dragons emerged as the class of a very difficult District 5-6A and wound up going on a school-record nine-game postseason winning streak to play in Central Texas.
Carroll’s run ended in the state semifinals to Deer Park. The season ended at 32-11-1.
Now, the summer sets in until the first high events of the 2017-2018 begin. That will be the volleyball season. Happy summer!