High School Baseball Stories of the Year

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
10:26
AM ET
Bubba StarlingJohn Fedele/ESPNHSBefore getting drafted by the Kansas City Royals, Gardner Edgerton (Gardner, Kan.) outfielder Bubba Starling was a high school legend who showed amazing skills on the diamond that seemed almost too good to be true.
From the incredible feats of Marti Sementelli and Ghazaleh Sailors to the hard-to-believe tales about Bubba Starling, we look back at the stories that made this a compelling year of high school baseball.

Female Pitchers Marti Sementelli & Ghazaleh Sailors Make History

Marti Sementelli of Birmingham (Van Nuys, Calif.) and Ghazaleh Sailors of San Marcos (Santa Barbara, Calif.) made history in the spring when they became the first girls to pitch against each other in a high school baseball game. Sementelli helped Birmingham to a 6-1 win by tossing a complete game, while Sailors fanned two over 3.1 innings and added a single off Sementelli.

Sementelli and Sailors also made headlines after the season by receiving college baseball scholarships. Sementelli signed with Montreat College in North Carolina and Sailors signed with Presque Isle in Maine.

The Legend of Bubba Starling

The stories about Starling resembled something straight out of “The Natural.” He hit 500-foot home runs, threw 95-mph fastballs, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds — you get the picture. The scary part is that it was all true.

A two-sport star at Gardner-Edgerton (Gardner, Kan.), the senior signed a football scholarship to play quarterback for Nebraska but ultimately turned it down to sign with the Kansas City Royals, who selected the outfielder with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

New Regulations on Aluminum Bats

Due to safety concerns, in particular pitchers getting hit by line drives, the National Federation of State High School Associations passed a rule starting with the 2012 season that all high school baseball teams that play under NFHS guidelines have to use Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) aluminum bats. Simply put, it means balls will fly off the new bats at lower speeds, allowing pitchers more time to react and avoid injury.

California teams started following the new rules during the 2011 season after Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) pitcher Gunnar Sandberg was hit in the head with a line drive during a game in March of 2010 and spent three weeks in a coma.

New York City adopts pitch-count rule

New York City’s Public Schools Athletic League also took action in the name of pitcher safety this season by adopting a pitch-count rule. Under the new guidelines, varsity pitchers can only throw 105 pitches in a game, while JV hurlers are limited to 90. So even if a pitcher is in the midst of throwing a no-hitter, they have to come out as soon as they reach 105 pitches.

Dylan Bundy Versus Archie Bradley

Friends since elementary school, the two top hurlers in the Class of 2011 unfortunately never got to pitch against each other this past season. Bundy, a senior right-hander at Owasso (Owasso, Okla.), and Bradley, a senior right-hander at Broken Arrow (Broken Arrow, Okla.), were scheduled to go head to head in a much-publicized matchup in the spring, but the game was rained out. Then, in the Class 6A state title game, Bundy wasn’t able to go after pitching two days prior. Bradley took the bump and shut down Owasso, including three strikeouts of Bundy, to lead Broken Arrow to the crown.

Bundy got the best of Bradley once the season was over by snagging Gatorade National Athlete of the Year honors and being the first prep pitcher selected in the 2011 MLB Draft (No. 4 overall to Baltimore). Though Bradley wasn’t exactly upset, as he went two spots after his buddy to Arizona.

Max Fried Joins Lucas Giolito at Harvard-Westlake

Imagine if Bundy and Bradley pitched on the same team. Well, two hurlers with similar talents will be teaming up in 2012 after senior lefty Max Fried was forced to leave Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.) when the school discontinued its athletic program this summer.

Fried decided to transfer to Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.), where he’ll be in the same rotation as stud senior right-hander and fellow UCLA signee Lucas Giolito. Oh, by the way, Fried and Giolito are arguably the two top pitchers in the Class of 2012 and potential top 10 picks in June. Good luck facing that tandem.

First-Round Pick Brandon Nimmo Didn’t Play High School Baseball

Wyoming doesn’t sponsor high school baseball, due in large part to the state’s unpredictable spring weather. But that didn’t stop Nimmo from getting noticed by major league scouts.

The Cheyenne East (Cheyenne, Wyo.) senior outfielder dominated American Legion ball for Cheyenne Post 6 and parlayed his play into a first-round selection by the New York Mets.

Chris Harvey, Taylor Gushue Enroll Early

Every year, numerous elite high school football players decide to graduate early and enroll in college in time for spring practice. But at least those players get to play high school ball their senior year.

Not so for standout catcher Chris Harvey of Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.), who enrolled at Vanderbilt a full year early this fall. Harvey would have been one of the nation’s top players in the Class of 2012. Meanwhile, fellow elite ’12 catcher Taylor Gushue of Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.) will play for the Florida Gators this spring.

Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.) Makes Surprising Run to POWERADE FAB 50 Title

The Bears began the year at No. 31 in the POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings, but they were dealt a serious blow early on when star senior Jordan Luplow suffered an injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season.

But several players stepped up, including junior Dominic Topoozian (11-0 on the mound), to help Buchanan win the CIF Central Section Division I title, finish the year 30-2 and earn the top spot in the final FAB 50.

The 25th Area Code Games

Take a look at some of the top players in Major League Baseball, and a number of them share one thing in common — they are Area Code Baseball Games alums.

Superstars like Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, Dustin Pedroia and Clayton Kershaw are just some of the big names who participated in the event, which celebrated its 25th year this summer at Blair Field in Long Beach, Calif.

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