Union baseball player Clint Coulter figured he would not see too many pitches around the plate this season.
He still hit better than .400.
He still hit home runs.
He still drove in runs.
He still is Clint Coulter.
He also walked a lot, and then made teams pay with his speed. Yeah, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 220-pound catcher has speed. He stole 18 bases, including five in one game.
All this while excelling on defense, playing the toughest position in the sport.
A first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, Coulter is The Columbian's choice for All-Region baseball player of the year.
The Titans lost seven seniors off of 2011's squad -- including five who are now playing in college. So this was a rebuilding year of sorts, but with one special talent leading the team. Coulter said he enjoyed the year, even if the Titans did not make a long playoff run. He appreciated the coaches and how they handled the transition. And, eventually, Coulter himself got used to the way opposing pitchers treated him.
"I had never had pitchers not want to attack me. They were trying to get around me," Coulter said. "I swung at some pitches I shouldn't have. I figured it out real quick and made some adjustments. Just like you gotta do to compete."
A walk was as good as a double, too. Coulter refused to have a courtesy runner.
"For my team to be able to compete, I had to get on second base," Coulter said. "I had to get in scoring position."
Coulter did all this with dozens of scouts in attendance at pretty much every game.
"I wanted to show the guys I'm the real deal," Coulter said.
They saw that.
• Batted better than .400, even after admittedly swinging at some bad pitches early in the season. As the top player in the region, and the best player on a young team, he rarely saw good pitches to hit. He adjusted and lit up the stat sheet.
• Hit three home runs and also showed off his speed. The 6-3, 220-pound catcher stole 18 bases.
More about Clint
• In case you have been in a cave the last few days, Coulter was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and then signed a $1.675 million contract. Yeah, it’s not just The Columbian who thinks he’s good.
• Favorite TV show: “ESPN and MLB Network are pretty much the only things that are on.”
• Favorite athlete: Mike Napoli, a catcher with power.
• Favorite team: “It was the Red Sox. Now, it’s probably the Brewers,” he said with a laugh.
Next year and beyond
• Usually, with seniors, we talk about college and majors. For Coulter, next year and beyond is up to his talents on the diamond. He will play minor league ball this summer. The goal, of course, is to one day reach the majors.
“Baseball has taught me a lot of lessons. No shortcuts. When you are trying to achieve something, there are no shortcuts.”
— Clint Coulter 2012 baseball player of the year
Rest of All-Region team
• Austin Barr, sr. Camas: One of two great catchers in the area, Barr is headed to Stanford.
• Clark Bryant, jr. Columbia River: Batted better than .500 and named to 1st team 3A GSHL.
• Cole Buruse, sr. Skyview: Great combo: Team leader and, statistically, one of the best.
• Alec Cheney, so. Skyview: Hit .475 and drove in 23 runs for first Skyview team to reach state.
• Oscar Golberg, jr. Columbia River: Sparked Chieftains’ run to elite eight win amazing postseason.
• Buck Hale, sr. Hudson’s Bay: Great bat, plus Eagles had a chance each time he was on the mound.
• Doug Macdonald, sr. Hockinson: Led Hawks in hitting and also was a solid pitcher.
• Riley O’Dell, sr. Mountain View: All-league pitcher who also drove in 23 runs with the bat.
• Seth Rayburn, so. Columbia River: The ace went 9-0. More than half the team’s wins.
• Zach Torson, sr. Mountain View: 3A GSHL’s player of the year had 1.19 ERA and more Ks than IPs.
• Brady Williams, sr. Ridgefield: One of best players in Trico, helped Spudders reach state.