Two members of the Powell Pioneers American Legion baseball team received postseason honors recently, as pitcher/centerfielder Colin Queen and right fielder Kobe Ostermiller were named to the West All-District second team.
“Too bad it wasn’t first team, but I’ll take it,” said Pioneers manager Joe Cates. “Both these guys are very deserving of the recognition.”
In his first season as a member of the Pioneers A squad, Ostermiller proved a talented outfielder, roaming right field for the most of the season, while filling in at center when Queen was on the mound. Ostermiller also made a name for himself at the plate, moving from the bottom of the order at the start of the season to the top by season’s end.
“That kid came in and he continued to surprise me,” Cates said of Ostermiller. “He had very consistent at-bats and never got into his own head. He just loved to play, and he had that attitude that you love to see, and I think that’s what really set him off this year, his ability to know he can play.”
After batting Ostermiller in the nine spot of the order for the first part of the season, Cates began to see the players at the bottom of his lineup consistently getting on base, with Ostermiller leading the charge.
“It got to the point where we were saying to ourselves, ‘Man, this kid hits the baseball, he gets on base. Let’s move him to the front,’” Cates said. “So we put him at the top of the lineup, and he gave us a guy that could score early. He did a great job.”
Cates had worked with Ostermiller during the off-season, so he knew the potential the young player possessed, especially in the outfield.
“[Ostermiller] is very raw, but he finds a way to get the job done,” he said. “His work ethic was great, and at the beginning of the season we were searching for a right fielder, and we gave him a shot. He made a few really good plays here and there, and continued to improve. It worked out great for us.”
Interestingly enough, Ostermiller’s most memorable night in the field came not in right but in center, on a night when Queen was on the mound.
“[Ostermiller] tracked down two tough fly balls in the outfield, and [Assistant Coach Tyler England] and I looked at each other and said, ‘Well, that worked out for us,’” Cates said. “He’ll definitely have a spot for us the next four years unless someone comes up and beats him out.”
Queen was the strongest pitcher this season on the Pioneers’ pitching rotation and a steady presence in center. While he had what Cates called “a good year” overall, both Queen and Cates know the incoming junior is capable of more.
“Colin [Queen] did all right, he hit just over .300, and his defense in center field was great,” Cates said. “I don’t expect anything less from him in that respect. Some of the fly balls he’s able to track down, he just makes it look easy. It was fun to watch that.”
A .300 batting average notwithstanding, Cates said the left-handed hitting Queen was forced to adjust his hitting style because of a lack of hittable pitches.
“[Queen] was off most of the year at the plate, just by a niche, which kept him being where he and I think he should be as a hitter,” Cates explained. “They pitched him away all season; he couldn’t pull the ball very much because no one threw him in. He did a good job of adjusting to that, putting the ball down the left field line. He had solid at-bats all year long.”
For his part, Queen thought the season was a success in some ways, not so much in others; he praised senior teammate Tyler Feller for being the glue that held the club together.
“I thought the team improved as a whole and because of that we won more games than the previous year,” Queen said. “The team started to bond together well. Most of that can be [attributed] to the coaches and our senior leader, Tyler Feller. [Feller] rarely ever showed his emotions, and helped the team remain focused in some stretches.”
Queen also recognized the younger members on the roster for their contributions this season.
“Our younger crew did exceptionally well in their first year. ... Many occupied key positions. They picked up on what coach Joe [Cates] had to teach and the upperclassmen helped them as well,” Queen said. “I hope to see them all stick with baseball next year.”
Ostermiller and Queen will both return next season, and Cates said he’s looking forward to having them back — as well as the rest of this year’s team.
“If everyone comes out, I should have 14 returning players, plus a few from the C team that will be old enough to play,” he said. “We’ll see who all comes out, but I’m excited.”