Payson High School first-year baseball coach Brian Young now suffers from the same frustrations and disappointments that have plagued many coaches since an Arizona Interscholastic Association reconfiguration two years ago that abolished conferences and regions replacing them with divisions and sections.
What occurred in the realignment was that teams in the same divisions and sections did not always play one another, as they had done in regions and conferences. That oddity rendered postseason voting somewhat fuzzy because coaches were asked to vote on players they had not seen perform during the course of the season.
For Young, that scheduling quirk meant that despite his team playing into the state tournament’s final four, only two players — Nick McMullen and Gunner Goodman — received postseason honors. McMullen was selected to the Division III, Section III first team and Goodman was named second team.
Most often, a state finalist team will have several more players chosen.
“It wasn’t great news for us,” a befuddled Young said. “A couple of problems — we don’t play many of the teams in our section and all the good players (are in our section). I think that hurt our chances to get more guys.”
Most disturbing for Young was that pitcher Dailey Carnes was not honored.
“I am shocked, there is a problem with the system when a player of his caliber isn’t getting some recognition,” the coach said. “Also we deserved to have a pitcher on the list.”
Those coaches who did not vote for Carnes must not have seen him in action in the Horns’ state tournament upset of Blue Ridge.
Carnes thoroughly dominated The Yellow Jackets’ befuddled hitters, giving up just three hits. He didn’t walk a single batter, and racked up 12 strikeouts.
At one point, he struck out eight consecutive Jacket hitters.
For the game, he threw only 90 pitches — a miniscule mark for a full seven innings.
Ironically, Carnes had operated all season long as a relief ace — seldom pitching more than a few innings. In fact, his longest stint prior to the state playoffs was four frames.
Carnes not only dominated on the hill vs. BR, but also at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
For the season, Carnes batted .400, was successful on 15 out of 15 base stealing attempts and as a pitcher compiled a .438 ERA.
McMullen obviously had to be a shoo-in to the S-III first team having compiled a .515 batting average with 11 home runs, 41 runs scored and 47 RBIs.
Although McMullen sports a robust 6-foot-5-inch frame that some wouldn’t consider suited for a speed game, he stole 14 out of 15 bases.
McMullen, a junior, was also sometimes called upon to pitch and finished with a 3.39 ERA and a 3-2 record.
When the All-Division III team is announced next week, McMullen is expected to be a first team pick.
Goodman, the team’s only senior, was a multidimensional player who could pitch, hit and play the infield.
As a batsman, he compiled a .316 average with 26 runs scored and 17 RBIs.
In 15 appearances on the hill, he was 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA. Defensively he posted a .811 mean.
For Payson in the voting, Miguel Mendoza, who hit .352 and was the team’s mound ace with a 7-2 record, also had the credentials to be an All-Section player, but was snubbed.
All the PHS players, with the exception of Goodman who will graduate this week, will return next season and will have another opportunity to impress coaches and earn their votes.