Wessel named the best
ORONO A torn ulnar collateral ligament kept Ben Wessel of Scarborough off the mound for the second half of the baseball season, but it didn´t lessen his worth to the team.
"I was more concerned about him not being able to hit than not being able to pitch because it left a big void in our lineup. It was good to get him back," Coach Mike Coutts said.
Wessel missed two games, then returned to be the designated hitter, leading the Red Storm to the Western Class A title.
On Friday, Wessel was named winner of the Dr. John Winkin Award, given annually to the top high school baseball player in the state.
"I wasn´t expecting it," Wessel said. "All the finalists had a great season. It´s rewarding to have the hard work pay off and it´s a privilege to receive this award."
Wessel led the Telegram League in batting average (.486), slugging percentage (.943), on-base percentage (.600), runs batted in (21), triples (four) and home runs (two).
"Whenever we needed a big hit, he got a big hit for us," Coutts said.
When he injured his elbow, the right-handed Wessel was 6-0 with a 0.62 earned-run average. In 34 innings, Wessel struck out 45.
"I´ll be needing Tommy John surgery in July but I´m still able to hit," said Wessel, who will play baseball at the University of Rhode Island next year.
"I felt like I let the team down a bit, but I was able to come back with my bat and help the team that way."
Among the finalists for the Winkin Award were a pair of central Maine athletes -- Sam Dexter of Messalonskee and J.T. Whitten of Waterville.
Dexter led Messalonskee to its first Class A state title and first championship overall since winning Class B in 1973.
He hit .475 with 24 runs and 16 RBI.
Waterville reached at least the Eastern Class B final in each of Whitten´s four years, winning back-to-back state championships.