Zach Ferntheil named Gatorade Player of the Year

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 30, 2012

The high school baseball postseason doesn’t start until Thursday, but Service’s Zach Ferntheil is already a winner.

The 17-year-old pitcher/first baseman was named Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year in a vote over Juneau-Douglas senior shortstop Lance Ibesate, announced today by ESPN.

"I didn’t really expect it," Ferntheil said. "I figured it would go to a senior."

The junior all-star led Service to a Cook Inlet Conference pennant this year and a berth in this week’s ASAA State Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium.

He won the CIC’s Don Rabung MVP Award last week.

The right-handed pitcher went 3-0 with 2 saves and a 1.12 ERA in 18.2 innings, giving him a hand in five of his team’s 11 wins.

At the plate he hit .423 with a 1.014 OPS.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is probably better known for throwing the ball, though.

"He is hands down the best pitcher in our conference," said West coach Mark Wisthoff. "He worked really hard in the offseason and you can tell by the results. In the 10 years that I’ve been coaching here, I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone better."

Ferntheil increased his strength in his legs, core and arm, thanks largely to winter workouts at The Dome.

"How well I’m doing on the field is a reflection of how hard I worked off it," he said. "It made a huge difference."

Now he throws as hard as 87 mph, up from 82 a year ago.

It hasn’t affected his control, either. He had 25 strikeouts compared to just four walks.

"The biggest difference in this year and last is I can throw hard and still hit spots," Ferntheil said.

The Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year runner-up was Ibesate, another two-way star.

He hit .564 with 20 runs and 8 RBIs in 16 games.

He also pitched, going 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Other players considered for the award were Service senior Garrett Brown, South senior Max Karnos and Dimond senior Kyle Kornegay.