Certain players are quite simply building blocks for a program’s success.
For Liberty’s baseball team, that building block was senior right fielder Jesse Keiser.
Keiser, a three-year starter for the Patriots, batted .525 this spring and led Liberty to its first league, region and state titles. For his efforts, Keiser was named the Southeast League Player of the Year by the coaches.
“Jesse, he came in here a little timid with a lot of talent and basically just grew from day one,” Liberty coach Nick Didier said. “He really wasn’t a big vocal leader, but he definitely led by example on the field and in the classroom.”
Didier didn’t spot his future star at school, instead he first glimpsed Keiser as he drove into his neighborhood.
“I saw a little pudgy kid playing catch with his brother,” Didier said. “And it ended up being Jesse Keiser.
“He means a lot to me. He’s pretty much the son I never had. Not writing his name in the lineup, especially in the middle, is going to hurt us. He is just a special kid.”
Keiser made plenty of hard contact as Liberty’s No. 3 hitter, and became a player opposing teams didn’t want to face.
“Obviously by his average he was a guy that you really didn’t want to see come up to the plate in a big situation,” Didier said. “Whether there were no guys on or guys on base, he would either start something or finish something.”
Green Valley’s Keola Paragas, who was an elite pitcher and hitter for the Gators, was named the Southern Nevada and Northeast League Player of the Year. Paragas went 8-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 65 innings. He also batted .382 with five homers and 36 RBIs.
Arbor View center fielder Kaid Urban was named the Northwest League Player of the Year after batting .472 with 17 stolen bases.
Bishop Gorman center fielder Cole Krzmarzick took the Southwest Player of the Year award. Krzmarzick hit .565 with eight homers and 44 RBIs.
Paragas, teammate Ryan Jackson, Centennial’s Cooper Powell and Shadow Ridge’s Jake Wilson were the first team All-Southern Nevada pitchers.
The infielders were Gorman’s Cadyn Grenier, Rancho’s Jose Verdugo, Cimarron-Memorial’s Niko Decolati and Arbor View’s Nick Quintana.
The outfielders were Keiser, Krzmarzick, Sierra Vista’s Cole Crosby and Foothill’s Bligh Madris.
Durango’s Anthony Parry was the first baseman and Silverado’s Vince Taormina was the catcher. Gorman’s Drew Newson was selected at utility, and Centennial’s Will Loucks was the designated hitter.
Centennial’s Charlie Cerrone, who guided the Bulldogs to the Sunset Region title, was Southwest League Coach of the Year. Spring Valley’s Paul Bassett (Northwest), Basic’s Scott Baker (Southeast) and Canyon Springs’ Todd Faranda (Northeast) took the other coaching honors.
Centennial’s Powell also was named the Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year. Powell was 9-1 with a 2.88 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73 innings. He also batted .411 with 23 RBIs for the Bulldogs.
In Class I-A, Faith Lutheran’s Erich Uelmen was named the All-South Region Most Valuable Player. Uelmen also was the Sunset League MVP. He hit .510 with three homers and 47 RBIs, and went 9-1 on the mound with a 1.19 ERA. He struck out 89 in 58 2/3 innings.
Chaparral’s Tommy Crone was the Sunrise League MVP.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.