Friday, May 28, 2010

SPORTS>>Jacksonville’s catcher is lone all-state choice

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville baseball coach Larry Burrows would have liked to see more of his players named to the all-state roster.

But, Burrows said, the Red Devils only have themselves to blame.

Junior catcher Patrick Castle-berry was the lone all-stater selected from the 6A-East champion Red Devils. Castleberry was a worthy choice, hitting .430 with nine home runs and 54 RBI and working closely with standout sophomore pitcher Jesse Harbin.

“He’s definitely had an all-state year,” Burrows said. “That’s all you can say about it. He was thought real highly of by all the coaches.”

Castleberry stands alone on the all-star roster, Burrows said, because he had just too many quality teammates for voters to choose from. Jacksonville had five; including Castleberry, named all-conference and three others were second-team selections.

Burrows’ theory was that his players siphoned votes from each other and kept any one teammate from dominating the selection process.

“The voting kind of got spread out between the rest of our players,” Burrows said.

Shortstop Jacob Abrahamson, outfielder D’Vone McClure, Harbin and third baseman Caleb Mitchell were first-team all 6A-East, along with Castleberry.

“That five definitely deserved first-team all-conference,” Burrows said.

Abrahamson batted .400 for the Red Devils, who were bumped from the 6A state tournament by Benton in the first round.

McClure hit .430, Mitchell, who recently played in the Metro All-Star Game, hit .360 and Harbin was 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA.

“I think that says a lot about our team,” Burrows said. “Once again I thought we had the best catcher, infielder and outfielder in the conference.”

Designated hitter/pitcher Nick Rodriguez, right fielder Alex Tucker and reliever Mike Lamb were the Red Devils’ second-team all-conference picks.

Burrows said many of the teams the Red Devils faced were known primarily for one or two players. Searcy, beaten by Lake Hamilton in the 6A state championship, boasted all-state selection Dillon Howard, a right-hander touted as a major college professional prospect while Mt. Home had a pitching standout in Trey Killian.

“If you look at the other teams down the line you think of Mountain Home’s two pitchers,” Burrows said. “You think of Searcy’s two pitchers.

“But when you look at our team we had, I feel, Abrahamson, the best infielder in the conference when you talk about offense and defense. There’s not an outfielder that had a better year than McClure in our conference, I guarantee. Then you look at Harbin, he beat Howard and Killian and went 8-2.”

Burrows said he understood it was going to be hard to get more than a couple of Red Devils named all state, and he said his lone selectee Castleberry was deserving, at least.