When Montrose High School catcher Dustin Boone went up to the plate this past season, his chances of getting a hit came down to the flip of a coin.
The Montrose hitter had a batting average of .500 which wasn’t only ranked first on his team but led the entire Southwestern League. That stat and other SWL-leading numbers helped Boone win SWL Player of the Year last week.
“It’s amazing. All the work I put in the game has finally paid off,” Boone, who’ll play South Mountain Community College in Phoenix next year.
Boone was, essentially, a no-brainer pick as he led the league in almost every offensive statistic. He ranked first in on-base percentage (.559), hits (41), doubles (11) and home runs (four).
Additionally, in his 93 plate appearances, Boone only struck out four times.
He said his focus, different from past years, was looking for “his pitch” while not trying to force a hit.
Montrose coach Landon Wareham — who was named SWL co-Coach of the Year alongside with Durango skipper Eric Baker — had high praise for Boone saying, “his numbers speak for themselves.”
Boone wasn’t alone in receiving postseason awards. He, Emmert Kastendieck and Trey Schwerdtfeger were all named to the SWL first team.
The speedster Kastendieck led the league in stolen bases with 16. He was also tied for first in runs scored (28).
Schwerdtfeger was effective on the mound and at the plate. He was first in the Southwestern League in strikeouts (83) and tied for the top spot in wins (five). He also ranked No. 1 in triples (seven).
Schwerdtfeger finished second for Montrose in hits (27) and RBIs (21).
Additionally, Indy Laird, Dillon Shaw and Dylan James were all selected to the SWL second team.
Shaw was second on the team in batting average with .386 (minimum 50 plate appearances). He collected 21 hits and 16 runs scored.
James was second on the team in doubles with six and had 22 hits and 15 hits. He was tied for first for Montrose in walks (13).
Laird finished with a batting average of .351 to go along with 18 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
“We were represented well,” Wareham said. “We had a decent league season. I thought some of our kids were recognized for their individual performances.”
Wareham was humble about his own honor. The Montrose coach, who collected SWL Coach of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, said the distinction comes down to his players and coaching staff, adding it’s “a program award.”
“(He) was a game changer,” Boone said. “We had a coach who knows the game and fought for us. We played hard for him and bought in. He knows the game.”
Montrose finished the season with a 17-7 overall record, finishing 5-3 in the Southwestern League.
But MHS ended up second in the league behind Fruita Monument — which was 6-2 in SWL. And the Indians missed out on the state tournament, losing in the first round of regionals, 2-1, to Mountain View on May 18.
Those two aspects are what Wareham and his players hope to fix next year.
The Indians will have a chance as they’ll have three All-SWL players in Schwerdtfeger, Kastendieck and James returning. And they’ll have a few athletes who also put up strong numbers, come back.
“We want to bring back postseason baseball back to Montrose High School,” said Wareham.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.