Vista, Creek seniors shine on diamond
Leonard, Farrell named South Metro players of the year
Any baseball team with an ace pitcher like Nick Leonard and a hitter like outfielder Grant Farrell should be good.
Leonard, the senior right-hander from Mountain Vista, has been tabbed as the Colorado Community Media South Metro Pitcher of the Year. Cherry Creek senior Farrell was selected as the Player of the Year.
“There's not a bad thing I can say about Nick,” said Mountain Vista coach Ron Quintana. “He worked hard in the offseason and obviously it paid off. He was a bulldog on the mound. He controlled all his pitches. On a bad day, he would have eight or nine strikeouts.
“The difference between last year and this year is he had his off-speed working. He had command of his off speed, his curve ball and splitter.”
Leonard, who will play next season at Washington State, led the Continental League with a 0.88 ERA and an 8-3 record. In 40.1 innings pitched, he had 105 strikeouts, which also was tops in the Continental League.
“It's quite an honor to be South Metro Pitcher of the Year,” said Leonard. “It was almost like a comeback year for me. Last year as junior I struggled quite a bit at the end of the year and in the playoffs. This year I felt real good to help my team out through the course of the season and in the playoffs.
“I definitely improved in all facets of my game, location wise and velocity wise. The biggest difference was having a little more velocity on my fastball, more depth on my curve ball and the addition of a splitter as a third pitch helped me carry deeper into games.”
The heater was still Leonard's out pitch.
“My fastball has primarily been my out pitch,” said Leonard. “It's the one I'm most comfortable with. I spotted it up where I need to for the most part. I liked it because at this level sometimes I could use it to overpower guys. Occasionally I'd get good three, four and five hitters and I had to go to the off-speed a little bit. I used my splitter sometimes as an out pitch, getting guys to chase that. Right now it's still in a developmental stage and is more of a groundball pitch.”
Farrell, who will play next season at Creighton, wasn't fooled too many times by high school pitchers.
He hit .513 with 31 runs batted in and an .815 slugging percentage. He struck out just six times in 95 plate appearances, had eight stolen bases, a .576 on base percentage and didn't make an error in leftfield.
In six state playoff games for the Bruins, Farrell hit .571 as he collected 12 hits in 21 at-bats.
“He's an unbelievable player,” said Creek coach Marc Johnson. “He works hard and gives 110 percent effort at all time. He loves to play. He was pretty steady all year. He elevated his game in the playoffs.”
Mountain Vista and Creek both made it to the final four. Leonard and Farrell were influential in their team's success.
“I just wanted to do anything I could to help my team win,” said Farrell. “I was getting good pitches to hit and I was seeing the ball well.
“In the offseason I worked hard in the weight room and tried to get stronger to hit with more power for doubles and triples. I didn't try to do too much all year because I knew my teammates had my back.”
Farrell finished his senior season with six doubles, five triples and three home runs.