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ALL-AREA BASEBALL: Sutter's Parker goes from wheelchair to MVP
Senior Husky named Player of the Year
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Caleb Parker, Sutter
COACH OF THE YEAR: Dave Rodriguez, Yuba City
P — Zack Oakley, senior, Yuba City
P — Chad Perry, junior, Marysville
P — Lucas Cryer, junior, Sutter
C — Cameron Olson, senior, River Valley
IF — Trevor Anthony, senior, Gridley
IF — Nathan Ahlers, junior, Sutter
IF — Jake Phillips, senior, River Valley
IF — Zach Rocha, senior, Yuba City
OF — T.J. Dove, sophomore, River Valley
OF — Aaron Byers, senior, Yuba City
OF — Jason Suleski, junior, Sutter
UT — Chandler Eden, junior, Yuba City
UT — Nolan West, senior, Wheatland
P — Michael Woods, junior, Wheatland
P — Brad Bonnenfant, sophomore, Sutter
P — Blake Lavin, senior, Faith Christian
C — Blake Vierra, senior, Maxwell
IF — Justin Ozcan, senior, East Nicolaus
IF — Robbie Kunkle, senior, Yuba City
IF — Ryan Johnson, senior, River Valley
IF — Chris Tapia, senior, Pierce
OF — Colton Minton, junior, Sutter
OF — Sam Ithurburn, junior, Faith Christian
OF — Cameron Boomgaarden, senior, River Valley
UT — Jake Cormier, senior, Yuba City
UT — Timmy Zucco, senior, Lindhurst
Biggs — Brian Carr
Colusa — Cyrus Yerxa, Ross Cervantes
East Nicolaus — Drew Orr, Tommy Sleva
Gridley — Jordan McMartin
Lindhurst — Chris Sisco
Live Oak — Tyler Raymond
Marysville — Austin Winona
Maxwell — Zach Troughton
Pierce — Taylor Cabral
River Valley — Derek Zaragoza
Sutter — Morgan Osgood
Wheatland — Haydon Leissmann
Williams — Ben Mayes
Yuba City — Cooper Goldby
In a wheelchair with his leg locked in a brace, the only thing Caleb Parker wished for was to be healthy and back on the baseball diamond.
After a mere six games, Sutter High's standout shortstop saw his junior season come to an abrupt end — on April Fool's Day no less — when a collision with a Hamilton first baseman left him with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
It was a devastating injury that proved to be difficult in more ways than one.
Not only was his promising 2011 season prematurely cut short, but Parker was forced to watch helplessly from the bench as his teammates made a run all the way to the Northern Section Division II title game, where they eventually fell 19-6 to Central Valley.
"I sat in bed for a couple months, so, rough is the only way I can describe it," Parker said. "I was happy for them. The team had a great season and deserved to make it, but it was tough sitting in a wheelchair watching the game."
Surgery was followed by eight grueling months of rehab for Parker, who returned triumphantly to the diamond in 2012 and was a key reason why the Huskies bounced back to claim that long-awaited section championship.
"I looked forward to the season for a year, so I was ready to play and help the team," Parker said. "My individual goal was just to play again. I knew I would be blessed to be out there."
And the Huskies were blessed to have him back.
Parker went on to bat a monster .525 during his senior year and his four home runs were tied for the most in the area. He also drove in 27 runs, scored 36, pounded out 42 hits and played solid defense at shortstop for the Huskies, who won their final 19 games to finished the season with a 22-2 record.
His .600 on-base percentage and .888 slugging percentage were both among the top marks in the Mid-Valley. He was selected as the Butte View League's MVP by the league's coaches and was the only local player named to the All-Northern Section first team.
Also selected to play in both the Raley Field Senior Showcase and the Chico Breakfast Lions All-Star games, Parker has now beefed up his résumé by being named the 2012 Appeal-Democrat All-Area Player of the Year, joining Mike Anthony (1985) and Zack Zwissig (1996) as the only Sutter players to do so.
"He's a great ballplayer and a leader on and off the field, which was huge for the team," Sutter coach Mark Renfree said. "His work ethic was excellent. He led by example and the kids followed him."
Parker was at his best when his team needed him the most, too.
He went 8 for 9 in the three playoff games, including a perfect 4-for-4 effort in Sutter's 5-0 victory over Yreka in the championship, all but cementing his place as the area's top player.
"We knew coming in we had an awesome junior class, so we knew we had a shot at a title," Parker said. "That was the team goal all along. We got so close last year, so we were all gunning for it.
"That dogpile afterwards never felt so good."
Considering all the work he's put in, Parker's postseason success didn't come as a surprise to Renfree or his coaching staff.
"He's clutch in tight situations and that's because he prepares himself. He loves the game and he works hard at it," Renfree said. "He puts in a lot of extra effort, so he's the kid you want up there in a game-winning situation."
As long as Parker can remember, baseball has been a part his life.
He got his start at an early age by playing T-ball at Peach Bowl Little League, although he didn't quite understand the nuances of the game at the time.
"I was the little kid who ran all over the field. I was playing shortstop, but when a ball was hit to right field, I would run after it," Parker recalled. "My dad (Wayne) had to tell me about the game. He was my coach growing up and he had a lot of good assistants help him out along the way."
Parker really took off when he joined the Yuba City Flood competitive traveling team as an 11-year-old. He played for the Flood until he was 14 and credited assistant coaches J.P Davis, Steve Mejia, Brian Olson, David West and Dan Kirby for helping make him the ballplayer he's become.
Those Flood teams went on to produce some of this season's best senior talent, including River Valley's Cameron Olson, Jake Phillips and Cameron Boomgaarden, Yuba City's Zack Oakley, Wheatland's Nolan West, Lindhurst's Timmy Zucco and Jesuit High's Louis Mejia.
"It made a huge difference," he said of his time with the Flood. "Most of them played high school ball and it's cool seeing them on the field. It was different playing against them, but I'm still close to all the guys."
At 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, Parker was one of the smaller guys on the field, but it didn't stop him from getting noticed by college scouts.
Next season, he is headed to Holy Names University in Oakland, where he will likely play second base for the school's first-ever baseball team.
Zack Oakley, senior, Yuba City
A four-year varsity performer for the Honkers, Oakley was named the Tri-County Conference's Pitcher of the Year after finishing his senior season with a solid 8-2 record while posting a 1.68 ERA.
Oakley tallied 50 strikeouts in 622⁄3 innings pitched and was selected to play in both the Sacramento Optimist and Chico Breakfast Lions All-Star games.
When he wasn't pitching, Oakley was also a standout at shortstop for the Honkers, where he finished the year with a .958 fielding percentage.
This is the second A-D first-team selection for Oakley, who was named to the Sacramento Bee's All-Metro team as an honorable mention.
Chad Perry, junior, Marysville
The area's most dominant power pitcher, the 6-foot-4 Perry used a live fastball to rack up an astounding 85 strikeouts in just 511⁄3 innings of work while earning All-Golden Empire League accolades.
Though Perry finished the year with a modest 4-3 record, his ERA of 1.77 was one of the top marks in the area.
The junior also had a big season at the plate, leading the Indians with a .448 batting average while tying Parker with an area-best four home runs. He also led the club in runs scored (21), RBIs (18), doubles (five), triples (two) and slugging percentage (.761).
Lucas Cryer, junior, Sutter
A big-game pitcher if ever there was one, Cryer helped lead the Huskies to a section title by going 9-1 with seven complete games and two shutouts, including a four-hitter in Sutter's 5-0 victory over Yreka in the section championship game.
Cryer boasted an ERA of 1.96 and his nine wins and seven complete games were both the top marks in the area.
Cryer's performance earned him a first-team All-BVL selection as well as second team All-Northern Section accolades.
Cameron Olson, senior, River Valley
A three-year varsity starter for the Falcons, Olson emerged as the area's top catcher during a senior campaign that saw him bat .364 with six doubles, four triples a home run and 19 RBIs.
He was named to the TCC's first team and will play at UC Davis next season. This is Olson's second straight All-Area selection.
Trevor Anthony, senior, Gridley
Although the Bulldogs didn't have much success as a team, it had little to do with the efforts of Anthony.
As Gridley's shortstop, Anthony led the entire area with a .535 batting average while being named All-BVL. His .859 slugging percentage was second in the Mid-Valley to Parker and his 32 RBIs were the second most in the area as well.
He was also named to the Northern Section's second team as a middle infielder.
Nathan Ahlers, junior, Sutter
An All-BVL selection at first base, Ahlers' .493 batting average was second on the club to Parker's and his 31 RBIs and 12 doubles were both tops on the team.
Ahlers also came up big in the clutch. His solo home run in the championship game got Sutter on the board and his big bat and play at first were a key to the Huskies' title run.
Jake Phillips, senior, River Valley
Another three-year starter for the Falcons, Phillips capped his prep career by batting a solid .352 while being named All-TCC.
He led the club in runs scored with 33 and his 25 RBIs were second on the team. The senior also had impressive power numbers, belting eight doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. As a pitcher, he ended the year with a 6-2 record.
This is this second A-D All-Area first-team selection.
Zach Rocha, senior, Yuba City
Besides being the area's top defensive first baseman, Rocha also swung a lethal bat for the Honkers this season.
An All-TCC selection, Rocha batted .389, drove in 20 runs and his 10 doubles and two triples were both tops on a Yuba City team that finished a perfect 15-0 in the TCC for the first time in school history.
Rocha was also selected to play in the Raley Field Senior Showcase last month and will play at Butte College next season.
Aaron Byers, senior, Yuba City
As the Honkers' lead-off man and standout center fielder, Byers finished the year with a .451 batting average and a .545 on-base percentage while being named the TCC's MVP.
He also swiped a school-record 19 stolen bases, scored a team-high 38 runs and didn't commit an error on defense all season.
Byers was selected to both the Sacramento Optimist and Chico Breakfast Lions All-Star games and was a Sac Bee All-Metro honorable mention.
Next year, Byers is headed to Division-I South Dakota State to continue his playing career.
T.J. Dove, sophomore, River Valley
The Falcons' clean-up hitter as a sophomore, Dove was a key reason why River Valley finished with a school record 22 wins and won its first ever playoff game this season.
Besides playing solid defense in the outfield, Dove earned All-TCC accolades after leading River Valley in batting average (.488), hits (41), home runs (three) and RBIs (29).
He was also a Sac Bee All-Metro honorable mention.
Jason Suleski, junior, Sutter
As the Huskies' speedy lead-off hitter and center fielder, Suleski provided a spark at the top of the lineup and helped propel Sutter to a section title.
He batted .383 and was one of the best defensive outfielders in the area where he made several outstanding plays in center field while not committing a single error.
Suleski was also a force on the basepaths, stealing 20 bags out of 23 attempts.
Chandler Eden, junior, Yuba City
Another All-TCC selection for the Honkers, Eden put up big numbers with both his arm and his bat during his junior season.
As a pitcher, Eden finished the year with a 7-1 record, two saves and a 2.03 ERA as Yuba City's No. 2 starter. He went on to strike out 63 batters in 512⁄3 innings.
Eden also provided some pop at the plate, batting .380 with 15 RBIs to go with six doubles while being named to the Sac Bee's All-Metro squad as an honorable mention.
Nolan West, senior, Wheatland
A BVL first-team selection, West was named to the All-Northern Section second team as an outfielder after batting .417 with a pair of home runs and 17 RBIs during his senior season.
He was also the Pirates ace, finishing the year with a 3-4 record and a 1.78 ERA. He struck out 72 batters in just 51 innings.
West played in the Chico Breakfast Lions All-Star Game and was a two-time A-D first-team selection.