MOHAVE VALLEY — River Valley High School’s all-purpose player Evan Oehler garnered Arizona Interscholastic Association All-Second-Team honors following the graduating senior’s 2019 baseball season.
Dust Devils head coach Billy Fregozo said he was very happy to see Oehler receive that award.
“We really relied on Oehler this season to be the arm for us,” Fregozo said. “He was a senior with the most pitching experience on our roster.
“So, him and I had a conversation during the summer and it continued through the winter and fall that he would be getting as much mound time as he can push himself to work.”
The Dust Devils’ right-handed hurler did not let his head coach down.
Oehler gave up nine runs on 30 hits for an ERA of 3.15, while striking out 10 and walking seven in 20 innings, according to MaxPreps. River Valley did not post his wins and losses.
“Oehler was a workhorse; he worked hard and pushed himself at every practice,” Fregozo said. “When Oehler wasn’t pitching he was playing shortstop or second base.”
The middle infielder was no slouch with the bat, either.
“Evan was very consistent with his bat, also, he was on base a lot,” Fregozo said. “His humble attitude was really nice to see in a young man on the baseball field.
“Oehler was another baseball player with a great attitude. This young man put his time in and did a wonderful job for River Valley.”
Seth Solano and Sam Evans earned honorable mention nods.
“It was a very pleasant feeling to hear these guys get this award,” Fregozo said. “The other coaches in the region had their opinions about these two and it was very surprising to hear them praise these guys.”
Solano said “it was good” to earn the honorable mention nod. “It was pretty cool,” he added. “My hitting definitely wasn’t up to par, but I thought my defense was pretty good.
“I had some good plays during the season.”
Fregozo gushed when mentioning Solano’s approach to the game.
“This kid is all-in,” Fregozo said. “When the coaches recognized that Solano threw a few kids out at home from left field on a tag, I could feel myself just smile and remember the play happening.”
The Dust Devils’ first-year head coach continued to praise his graduating senior.
“Seth Solano was all-out hustle,” Fregozo said. “He worked with an attitude of go hard or go home.
“If you really watched him, you saw him sprint on and off the field — out of the box like a shotgun.”
Fregozo is expecting big things from Solano.
“Any coach would love to have a young man like Seth playing for him,” he added. “He was fast — real fast. Seth is off to play football at Doane University, and I wish this young man the best of luck at not only his college career, but (in) whatever path he chooses in life. He deserves (it).”
Fregozo said Evans’ work behind the plate received rave reviews from River Valley’s opponents.
“Sam Evans received some great recognition behind the plate,” Fregozo said. “The other coaches were amazed at his blocking behind the plate.
“Evans probably dropped and blocked a million baseballs this season. He worked real hard back there.
“Sam worked out with us during his football season and basketball season. At the end of each workout, he would stay a little longer and work with coach (Derrik) Advocate on blocking and it surely paid off.”
Evans was beyond excited when he heard he earned an honorable mention nod.
“I was stoked (upon) receiving honorable mention as a catcher, even though it’s not the first-team, all-region or all- state it’s still a great feeling and a boost of confidence,” Evans said. “To me it shows that the hard work we put in as a team and (as) individuals is paying off.
“This gave me a lot more motivation going into this upcoming year.”
Evans knows he needs to continue working hard to improve other facets of his game.
“I struggled all year with my bat, but that’s where the offseason comes where we turn our weaknesses into strengths, which is my goal,” Evans said. “This will not only benefit me offensively and defensively this year, but also the team this upcoming season.
“Defensively I was proud of myself, but I still have lots to build on, especially being consistent behind the plate with my throw downs. Offensively, I wasn’t comfortable in the box, so I’d switch up every game or every at-bat.
“I was setting myself up for failure practically. The focus this offseason is to find what’s comfortable and what works for me and stick to that the whole season.”
In addition to Evans’ skills and work ethic, his personality endeared him to his head coach.
“Sam was always smiling no matter what,” Fregozo said. “It was hard to be upset with him because as you’re going over something he may be doing wrong, he would be looking you right in the eye with a smile.
“Sam was always asking questions searching for answers and solutions to working at the catcher position.
“He a great kid. He should do some really good things his senior season behind the dish for River Valley.”
Fregozo’s River Valley trio was worthy of the accolades.
“These players all deserved what recognition they received,” Fregozo said. “They are a bunch of great guys with wonderful attitudes — (they are) hard-working young men on the ballfield.
“I wish I could have spent more time with them. For the seniors, I wish them the best of luck and (a) wonderful future. For the others, I can’t wait to get back on the baseball field with them.”