FIRST-TEAM, ALL-REGION HONOREES

Dust Devils shortstop Aiden Gunn (left) and third baseman Anthony Gorrell (right) move to the edge of the infield during their 4-3 home loss to Lake Havasu on March 19.

MOHAVE VALLEY — River Valley High School Dust Devils baseball players Anthony Gorrell and Aiden Gunn earned Arizona Interscholastic Association 3A West Region First-Team accolades following the 2019 season.

Gorrell and Gunn put on a show despite the Dust Devils’ record of 2-13 overall, 1-9 in conference and 1-9                    in region, according to aiaonline.org

“I was extremely pleased that the region recognized these two baseball players,” said Dust Devils head coach Billy Fregozo by email. “The both of them really deserved this recognition. Both worked real hard during the entire season.”

Gorrell earned the award following his breakthrough senior season.

He was second in hitting for the Dust Devils with a .463 average during a nine-game stretch, according to MaxPreps, as River Valley posted stats for roughly only one-third of its season.

“I was pretty excited to see that all my hard work had paid off from my whole senior year,” Gorrell said. “I found out I had gotten first-team, all-region when I was at the baseball banquet when I also received team MVP (award). Coach Billy had told me I was awarded it.”

Gunn earned a spot on the region squad after having an excellent sophomore season.

He was hitting .625 during the first six games of the season, and he ended up batting a team-leading .656 during the 10 games his coaching staff posted stats.

“I was very surprised that I earned a spot on the first team,” Gunn said. “I had no clue there was even such a team. “The first I found out about it was when I was being presented the award by Coach Billy Fregozo at the baseball banquet in front of both JV and varsity and their families.”

Hard work during the offseason paved the way for the two Dust Devil stalwarts.

“Gorrell spent a lot of time on the baseball field with us during his football and wrestling seasons,” Fregozo said. “He was on the field two nights a week. And when we finished those workouts, he was one of a few players who wanted to do more.”

Gorrell echoed Fregozo’s comments.

“My hard work in (the) offseason was shown because I spent countless hours on the baseball field after I was done with wrestling practice or football practice,” Gorrell said. “My pitching and my hitting were great this year; I worked hard every single day to get what I wanted and I did it.”

In addition to hard work, Gorrell’s inner drive led him to bigger and better things.

“Gorrell has a huge heart for sports and his work ethic is absolutely amazing,” Fregozo said. “Gorrell was on track to do a lot more than he finished with, but a midseason injury really took a lot out of him.

“I believe if he would have avoided the injury, he could have finished close to a .500 batting average. 

“Early during winter, he was absolutely crushing baseballs hard in the gaps. It was pretty exciting to see him hit the ball as hard as he was. He never really was able to get back into his rhythm he had before the injury. 

“He was playing a wonderful third base and his pitching was excellent. His attitude was perfect. Gorrell is a wonderful teammate.”

Gorrell gave up 10 runs — seven earned — on 18 hits with a .377 ERA, while striking out 17 and walking seven in 13 innings in five appearances on     the mound, according to River Valley’s MaxPreps’ records. 

Gunn competed for Fregozo’s club team, Venom, in tournaments during the summer. 

“He came out during the fall season and worked on some things,” Fregozo said, “But during winter he focused on the winter sport.”

Fregozo, who completed his first season as River Valley head baseball coach in 2019, envisioned roles for Gunn prior to the season.

“Gunn is a baseball player, no doubt,” Fregozo said. “He is the kid (who) I saw during the summer as a Dust Devil leadoff hitter. He got on base one way or another. (He’s) not the fastest player, but a great hitter (who) puts the bat on the ball. 

“He’s a contact hitter. His ability to play shortstop was (noticeable) for sure.” 

Gunn flashed the leather during the season, Fregozo said. He had a small period of mishandling the ball, but putting a certain glove away for a while fixed that problem. 

“Gunn learned pretty quick how the mind worked in baseball when we talked about throwing a glove out the window on our way home from an away game,” Fregozo said. “Gunn is a great baseball player and he is going to be a huge factor for his next two seasons.” 

Fregozo added: “Like I said, Gunn is a baseball player. “If he continues to evolve with the game, he is definitely going to be looked at by a few schools before he is done at River Valley.”

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