SYRACUSE - Three area high school graduates and one underclassman have been named to the New York State Sportswriters Association all-state baseball first team.
Seniors Thad Johnson of Frewsburg, and Zack Fancher and Lyle Howard of Pine Valley and junior Trent Thompson of Fredonia have been honored for outstanding seasons that helped lead to deep playoff runs for their respective teams.
Johnson's resume is one of the most decorated in state history. Surprisingly, however, this marks the first time the St. Bonaventure-bound pitcher, catcher and shortstop has been an all-state first-team selection.
A six-year varsity player, Johnson exploded onto the high school baseball scene four years ago with a freshman campaign that saw him hit .530 with 50 runs scored and 25 extra base hits. This season, he became the New York State Public High School Athletic Association all-time leader for hits in a career, besting Adam Cutspec's 2008 mark, when he smacked a leadoff home run for hit No. 189 against Holland on May 24.
He finished his career with 200 hits.
In earning a place on the first team, Johnson - hitting from the leadoff spot - hit .562 (50 for 89), scored 52 runs, drove in 28 more and connected for 11 doubles, eight triples and six home runs this season.
In addition to the hits record, Johnson ranks second on the state's all-time list for runs scored, third for triples, seventh for doubles and 13th for RBIs.
Meanwhile, Fancher and Howard earned first-team selections in Class D after leading the Panthers to a Far West Regional title and their first appearance in the state semifinals since 2007.
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Fancher, who fanned Arkport opponent Ryan Hedges to clinch the Far West Regional victory, hit .389 and split time on the pitcher's mound and at shortstop. His teammate, Howard, who hurled four innings of no-hit ball in the regional, also was a pitcher and shortstop who connected for base hits at a .360-clip.
Thompson was a first-team Class B choice and was crucial, thanks to his efforts both on the mound and at the plate, in leading the Hillbillies to a Section 6 title and an appearance in the Far West Regional.
"Trent's the ace," Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said during the season. "He's the stud of our team."
Other area players recognized by the NYSSWA are senior Connor Grey, Frewsburg, second-team Class C, pitcher; senior Brad Johnson, Brocton, second-team Class D, pitcher; senior Austin Alonge, Westfield, third-team Class C, catcher; senior Matt Fowler, Maple Grove, sixth-team, Class C, pitcher; and senior Nick Hart, Fredonia, sixth-team Class B, outfielder.
Colt Lowe, a senior infielder from Portville, is a fifth-team selection in Class C, while North Collins senior infielders Kyle Sherman and Trey Bley are third-team choices in Class D.