All-Region baseball: Rayburn returned to the top for Columbia River

Pitcher goes 7-1 after missing junior season with elbow injury

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Seth Rayburn was shut down for months. All he could do was watch and wait and wonder.

Back in 2012, Rayburn was a dominant pitcher for the Columbia River Chieftains, a sophomore sensation.

A bad elbow, though, limited Rayburn to parts of three games in 2013.

So he watched, waited, and wondered.

He knew his elbow would heal. He just did not know if he would be able to do some of the same things with the baseball.

Then he did this is 2014 for the Chieftains:

Rayburn went 7-1, pitching 46 innings while giving up one earned run, striking out 43. Yes, one earned run. He was 2-0 in the postseason, helping the Chieftains reach the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament. For this, he is The Columbian's All-Region baseball player of the year.

"It feels like a blessing," Rayburn said. "I feel so honored for everything that happened, especially after what happened last year. Having to sit out (most of) last season was very frustrating and one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

After missing most of River's spring season and all of the summer ball, Rayburn had some concerns when he returned to the mound this spring.

"I was nervous, very nervous going into that first game, to see where I was going to be at, to see if I was still going to be able to pitch to my expectations," Rayburn said. "After that first game went well, I kind of realized, 'I'm back. I'll be OK.'"

His confidence soared. So much so, he really believed if the offense could get him one run, the team would win.

"If you believe in yourself ..." Rayburn said. "The mental game is a big factor in baseball. You trust yourself and trust your defense."

Rayburn's lone loss this season was against Kelso, a 1-0 decision, and the lone earned run against him this season.

"I was disappointed," Rayburn said. "I wanted to keep it at zero. I understand you can't always hold them off."

Interestingly, Kelso was the only team that beat Rayburn in high school. Rayburn finished with a 19-2 record for his Chieftains career.

Rayburn will move across the river to play for Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, perennially one of the top programs in the Northwest.

He hopes he can pitch like he did his last game for River, a 3-0 victory in the round of 16.

"I felt it was my best outing of the season," Rayburn said.

Rayburn didn't get a chance to pitch again, in the state semifinals. But the team still gets to celebrate one more thing: this All-Region award.

"It was an honor to get this award for the family, for the team," Rayburn said. "It's not for myself but for the Chieftain logo."

COLUMBIAN ALL-REGION BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Seth Rayburn, Sr., Columbia River

Rayburn finished his high school pitching career with a 19-2 record. His advice to younger pitchers? “Believe in yourself and don’t let a hit affect you. Shake everything off and keep moving forward.”

Rest of All-Region team

JACK BAUER, JR., UNION: First team all-league catcher for the Class 4A GSHL champions who always came up with big hit.

JAY BECKER, SR., COLUMBIA RIVER: It seemed like this guy spent his whole season on base and scoring runs for the Chieftains.

ALEC CHANEY, SR., SKYVIEW: Drove in 20 runs and scored 16 runs in his 24 games played this season. Unrelated note: One last shout-out to the 2013 state champs.

DAKODY CLEMMER, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: Pitcher went 6-2 and only gave up three earned runs in 48 innings.

ANDREW HALEY, SR., COLUMBIA RIVER: The 3A GSHL’s player of the year consistently crushed the ball.

JAKE HAWKEN, SR., UNION: First team all-league pitcher will be taking his talent to the University of Portland.

HUNTER HUDDLESTON, SR., WOODLAND: The Trico League’s most valuable player was also selected for all-state series.

TREVOR HUDDLESTON, JR., WOODLAND: Mr. Clutch was untouchable in playoffs, helping Beavers to 1A state title game.

HAYDEN HUMPHREY, SR., BATTLE GROUND: 4A GSHL’s player of the year led the Tigers to the Class 4A state tourney.

MCKINLEY LEFORE, JR., CAMAS: Turned into Camas’ ace and coaches rewarded him as a first team all-league performer.

JOEL WORDEN, YR., HOCKINSON: First team all-league pitcher also carried a big bat for the Hawks.