High school baseball: MVPs displayed great leadership, plenty of clutch performances
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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Most Valuable Player — has a real nice ring to it, doesn't it?
And we've got four of them who each helped lead their respective Utah high school baseball teams to state championships this year.
As expected, though, that's not all they have in common.
Displayed tremendous leadership ability? Check.
Played well under pressure? Check.
Rose to the occasion when their team needs them most? Yep, you can definitely check that one off, too.
It's no wonder, then, that Riley Ottesen of American Fork, Lars Lofgren of Skyline, Austin Ovard of Snow Canyon and Rylan Anderson of Gunnison were selected as Deseret News MVPs in their respective 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A classifications this year.
Riley Ottesen, American Fork
This medium-sized kid with a king-sized heart was a key performer in many ways in the Cavemen's quest for their first state baseball crown in 27 years.
On the mound, he piled up a sparkling 9-1 record with a glittering 1.44 earned-run average. And at the plate, the junior pitcher/shortstop batted a robust .460 and knocked in 28 runs, including the game-winner in American Fork's 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Taylorsville in the 5A championship finale.
Ottesen also picked up the complete-game win that day when, after falling behind 4-0 after two innings, he shut out the Warriors on two hits and rest of the way.
"He means everything to us," American Fork coach Jarod Ingersoll said of Ottesen, who spent his first season at A.F. after transferring from Lone Peak. "He did everything for us. He's such a talented ballplayer with everything he can do — he can hit, run, pitch, play in the field. He's one of those guys that's a five-tool guy.
"Where I was the most pleased with this year is how he was such an excellent teammate this year. Every time he got a lot of pub in the newspaper, he was always talking about his teammates — not himself. It's amazing that he would do that, and I think it shows what kind of kid and what kind of character you are. Guys want to play that much harder for him, and our guys responded to him."
Ingersoll pointed out that Ottesen definitely put in the time to improve his skills, and that he's a great listener and learner along with being a great teammate.
"He's worked hard to improve his strength in the weight room. He made a great effort in the weight room and it paid off for him," said Cavemen coach, whose team finished 25-6 overall. "He's not exceptionally tall or big, but he's strong for his size and he's quick.
"He bought into what our pitching coach had going on, telling him it was best to pound the zone and throw strikes. And he realized that all year long. He's got what you call electric stuff; he's got some pop on it and it kind of explodes on you."
Ottesen displayed a knack for hitting the ball particularly well whenever he was pitching that day, continually coming up with clutch plays that paved the way for the Cavemen to claim their first title since 1985.
"He definitely was really competitive all the time," Ingersoll said. "But when he was pitching, he seemed to flip that switch where was even more in the compete mode. And hey, he was pretty dang tough at the plate when wasn't pitching, too."