They swing the biggest sticks, throw the hottest heaters and flash the most golden of gloves.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Lebanon Daily News all-county baseball honorees.
Six county schools produced all-county players this spring, highlighting a competitive year on the diamond from Elco to Palmyra. Now while the Raiders and Cougars proved to be the area's best teams, neither boasted the highest number of selections for a single ball club. That distinction belonged to another squad that finished well, winning eight of its last nine before falling just shy of the postseason.
With four selections, Northern Lebanon assembled the most all-county players for the second straight spring. Only catcher Chase Dubendorf is an all-county returnee, while senior Isaac Wengert earned his first nod after serving as the team's MVP. Working simultaneously under the titles of ace and No. 3 hitter, Wengert finished with a 1.36 ERA. During league play, only five runners attempted to run against Dubendorf, who reached base in better than 50 percent of plate appearances, hit two home runs and batted .479.
Sophomore Michigan Daub accrued a county best batting average of .450, and senior shortstop Noah Gingrich flashed some of the finest leather in the county. Gingrich also scored 20 runs and hit .353.
Over to the east, Elco's top battery mates, senior Cole Blatt and junior Cole Miller, represented one of the best Raider teams in years. Miller, a catcher, threw out nine of 13 runners, did not commit a single error and struck out only three times. He hit .407 with 10 RBIs. On the mound, Blatt compiled a 0.70 ERA over 40 regular-season innings of work.
Speaking of sparkling ERAs, Lebanon's Michael Deleon sported a matching .070 mark with 50 strikeouts over the same number of innings. He's joined by Cedars junior Cody Kissinger, another second-time honoree. Kissinger was regularly slotted in the middle of Lebanon's order, threw as its No. 2 starter and played first base. Kissinger coupled his final 2.21 ERA with a .317 average and 13 RBIs.
A tough season for Cedar Crest still managed to provide a few bright spots, namely Ethan Stickler and sophomore Joe Carpenter. Carpenter's team-high 18 hits and six doubles generated a second straight all-county selection, while Stickler, a junior, arrives having acquired a .326 average, two triples and more than 20 percent of his team's total runs.
Producing offense has become old hat for Annville-Cleona's Hunter Long, a two-time all-county team member. He and junior Mitch Long led the Little Dutchmen to another strong campaign from the middle of the order, where each came just shy of a 1.000 OPS. Mitch also fired 45.1 innings to the tune of a 1.85 ERA and a sound 11:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
While he didn't quite rack up the same number of strikeouts, Palmyra's Isaac Blatt proved equally as dominant from the mound. Blatt tossed complete games in his last six starts, which totaled only a pair of earned runs allowed. He and returning all-county honoree Evan Hallowell spearheaded one of the greatest stretches in Cougars baseball history, which landed them in the district title game. Two games earlier, Hallowell, who played a steady center field, cracked five RBIs to earn Palmyra a state tournament berth.
All-County second team
Alec Barr, Annville-Cleona
Eli Setlock, Annville-Cleona
Iziah Trimble, Cedar Crest
Jacee Orta, Cedar Crest
Tyler Price, Elco
Travis Zimmerman, Elco
Cam Shaak, Lebanon
Seth Walmer, Northern Lebanon
Zach Yingst, Palmyra
Tyler Julian, Palmyra