HANFORD — Out of 33 players who made the All-West Yosemite League teams, 11 were local players from Hanford and Lemoore high schools. The Bullpups led all schools with nine selections and the Tigers had two.
Juaron Watts-brown earned one of the biggest All-WYL honors for the Bullpups as he took home Pitcher of the Year, including making First Team. The junior credited his work ethic and teammates for the vast leap in talent after making Second Team last season.
“It felt great honestly, but I didn’t do it alone,” Watts-brown said. “The coaches pushed us hard, I had a great team behind us, hitting and defensively they made great defensive plays every game. So it was a team effort it wasn’t just myself.”
In 25 2/3 innings, the right-hander led the WYL with 31 strikeouts and had the third-best earned run average with a 1.64. He did it while pitching the third-most innings of any pitcher in league and facing the fourth-most batters (103).
“The team allowed me to get those innings and those strikeouts,” Watts-brown said deflecting credit. “They put me in the position to get six, seven innings a game.”
Watts-brown allowed only six earned runs on 14 hits and went 2-2 with a 0.94 WHIP in five pitching appearances.
Shortstop Clay Gillum and catcher Trey Knight, a senior and junior respectively, joined Watts-brown on the First Team.
Gillum had a league-high 17 hits and slashed .486/.514/.714 with seven RBIs and seven runs scored — the latter two being third-best in league. His batting average and on-base percentage were both second in the league and he led all hitters in slugging percentage. He tied with a league-high five doubles and was impressive at the plate striking out once in 35 at-bats.
Knight batted .300 with a .389 OBP, which were both top 15 in the league. His five RBIs and five runs scored were both tied for sixth.
Ethan Guevara made the Second Team as a pitcher and Flavio Perez and Beau Wilkinson joined him as infielders. Guevara emerged as a solid second option for the Bullpups this season and went 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA — seventh best in the WYL. Wilkinson slashed .280/.357/.320 which were all top 25 in the league, including his OBP and slugging good for top 20. Perez was fifth in batting average (.375) and sixth in on-base (.444) and slugging .500.
Daylon Davis, Zayvien Silvestre and Dominic McLaughlin were all selected as Honorable Mention. Davis had a .417 OBP, Silvestre was 1-0 with a 1.97 ERA and McLaughlin batted .381 with three RBIs.
“It was well-deserved. They worked hard every single day,” Watts-brown said. “I think a couple of them should’ve been First Team … but we worked hard all season and they worked hard and they really deserved it.”
The team had a total of eight freshmen and sophomores this season, as well as six juniors all returning next season. They’ll lose key contributors in Gillum, Wilkinson and Perez, but the Bullpups should be able to make another return to the playoffs.
This season the Bullpups were 13-12 overall and third in league at 6-4, which earned them the nine-seed in the in the CIF Central Section Division II playoffs. They fell to No. 8 seed Bakersfield 3-0 in the first round.
“Win preseason, then WYL and then hopefully Valley,” Watts-brown said about next season’s plan. “We have a young team and we got a couple kids coming up that should be really good for us. A lot of returners, so I think we should be really good next year.”
The Tigers struggled for much of the season and finished 8-18 overall and last in the WYL at 1-9. Lemoore missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season, but did have a pair of Second-Team selections with Nick Brewster and Jimmy Caldera.
Brewster made the team as an outfielder and Caldera as a utility player. Brewster hit .320 (11th) and slugged .320 (17th). Caldera’s OBP (.406) and slugging (.423) were both top 10 in league, while his 21 strikeouts were sixth.
The All-West Yosemite League teams are voted on by the coaches.