By BRETT MARSHALL
Ty Herman remembers all too well his freshman baseball season with the Moscow Wildcats.
A team dominated by seniors, the Wildcats swept through the regular season and the Class 2-1A regional unbeaten, and eventually found themselves in the championship game against powerhouse Pittsburg-Colgan.
The Wildcats dream of a perfect season wasn't realized, but for Herman it was a memory that he won't forget.
Three seasons removed from that, Herman was the mainstay for the Wildcats as he produced a remarkable senior campaign.
As a result he has been tabbed as The Telegram's Player of the Year for the Baseball/Softball All-Area team.
"I'm definitely a better player than I was then, but I'm a much different player, too," Herman said.
Once a hard-throwing right-hander, Herman suffered a tear in the labrum that lines the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The injury didn't come on the diamond, instead it came on the football field when he attempted to block a punt and dove, falling to the ground on that shoulder.
"I certainly don't throw as hard as I did before, but I think I have improved as a player," Herman said.
A catcher much of the season, Herman would also find himself moving back to the mound for relief appearances behind the Wildcats' usual starter, Lane Miller.
"I like catching because you're in every play of the game," Herman said. "Lane and I have bonded with each other. The toughest part is being tough back there. You can't be scared of the ball. You've got to watch how the ball spins coming out of the pitcher's hand and keep the ball in front of you."
Herman has taken those lessons to heart as he compiled an amazing .992 fielding percentage behind the plate, committing just one error while having 21 putouts and 23 assists.
As a pitcher, he threw 52 innings, finishing with a 6-3 record, recording 106 strikeouts and walked just nine batters. His earned-run-average was a nifty 1.21.
"I've had to learn to throw different pitches as a result of the surgery," Herman said.
All those stats of pitching and catching, though, are somewhat overshadowed by Herman's performance at the plate. He finished with a .648 batting average by collecting 35 hits in 54 at-bats. He scored 35 runs and had 31 RBIs. He showed his prowess as a hitter by collecting 12 doubles, four triples and six home runs. He struck out just twice and had 27 stolen bases.
The Kansas Baseball Coaches Association named him to its first-team Class 2-1A and the all-around diamond star will walk-on at Seward County Community College in Liberal this fall.
"I can throw about 75 mph now and I think I was about 80 mph before," said Herman who at one time couldn't even bend the arm. "I use a split-finger and a two-seam fastball."
Herman will also throw in a curveball he named Mr. Moose and a split-finger changeup. His four-seam fastball is one he used to get an out, the split-finger is for a strikeout.
He wants to major in corrosion technology and eventually work for a gas company. Part of that also will include a degree in engineering.
For now, though, Herman will enjoy his summer between high school and college. And then head off to see if he can work his way into playing for the Saints.