NCS Senior of the Year
SPENCER TORKELSON, CASA GRANDE
It must not have taken long for the coaches of the North Bay League to select Spencer Torkelson as their Most Valuable Player. The four-time first-team all-league recipient hit a cool .481 in his final high school season, and finished his four-year varsity career with a career .430 batting average, almost 100 runs driven in, and 44 extra-base hits.
Torkelson displayed a big increase in power during his final year, despite attempts to pitch around him throughout the season. The Arizona State bound dual-sport standout slugged seven home runs this season, and was the driving force behind a team that was among the best in the section all year long. He also had a career-high 43 RBI this year, and was a perfect 10-for-10 on the base paths.
“(Spencer) was a special, special player for our program. His work ethic was just as hard in May of his senior year as it was in his freshman season,” said Casa Grande coach Paul Maytorena. “He was a great example for everyone in this program, and raised the bar with his effort. I am eternally grateful for what he has done here.”
This year, his leadership included a position switch from shortstop to the outfield, to improve the team as a whole. He not only accepted the move, but relished in his new role, and once again led by example. In the middle of the season, Torkelson compiled a 14-game hitting streak. That hitting streak extended through the elite Boras Classic, which included one of the finest games by any player this year – a two home-run, eight-RBI performance against Turlock, as the Gauchos won two of three games in the tournament, with the lone loss coming by one run to Sac-Joaquin powerhouse Davis.
Once in league play, Casa Grande was virtually unstoppable, with Torkelson tearing up opposing pitching. The Gauchos went 13-1 in the NBL regular season, with the one loss coming in early April to Ukiah, who they would later beat twice. Following the loss to Davis in the Boras Classic, Casa Grande reeled off 15 straight wins, including the NBL tournament championship game against Maria Carrillo, and three straight wins in the playoffs to reach the Division II title game.
Through it all, Torkelson performed with the steady demeanor of a veteran who had been there for his entire high school career. He homered in three straight league games at one point, and drove in three of the team’s five runs in the second meeting against Ukiah. Late in the year, he drove in runs in eight straight games, including a home run and four RBI in the NBL tournament semifinals against Cardinal Newman.
“It is incredible what he was able to do this year, with a target on him, getting pitched around, scouts watching almost every game, and all the pressure of being the man,” Maytorena said. “He leaves a great legacy for future players in the Casa Grande program.”
Despite his impressive numbers at the plate, his patience also shined through. Maytorena referenced being pitched around, and Torkelson drew 27 walks this season, and was hit by a pitch on seven other occasions. Including those 34 free passes, his on-base percentage was .612, with an atmospheric OPS of 1.547. For good measure, he took the mound on three occasions this season, allowing two hits in three innings pitched, while striking out five.
Now, our Prep2Prep Senior of the Year heads to the Pac-12, where he follows in the footsteps of the previous year’s North Bay League MVP – former Maria Carrillo standout Andrew Vaughn, who tore apart opposing pitching in his freshman campaign. There is no doubt in the mind of Maytorena, who has accumulated over 400 wins as a head coach, that Torkelson is ready thrive in Tempe, Arizona, as a Sun Devil student-athlete.
“You get what you earn, and Spencer has earned a ton of success in the future,” Maytorena concluded.
Others players considered for this award include Drake’s Nick Roth, Saint Mary’s Gianni Bloom, and Clayton Valley’s Kevin Snyder.