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2014 high school Baseball-Softball Players of the Year: Matt Trask from Davis and Vanessa Washington from Pleasant Grove

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014 - 6:38 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2014 - 8:27 pm

Matt Trask and Vanessa Washington are givers.

They smile a lot, and glady talk to fans – young and old – who come to their games to witness a show. And what performances they offered.

A Davis High School pitcher and first baseman, Trask helped power the Blue Devils to a championship season. A record-setting catcher at Pleasant Grove, Washington was paramount in getting the Eagles into another championship game.

Their efforts and leadership made the seniors The Bee’s 2014 Players of the Year in baseball and softball.

Trask, who will pitch on scholarship at UCLA next season, often daydreams about being a firefighter someday, saving lives. Washington, who set a Sac-Joaquin Section season record with 15 home runs, will play at Delaware State on scholarship, and she’s already plotting a career as a lawyer. Both were influenced by their parents, be it work ethic or dealing with people. Baseball and softball are fun, Trask and Washington agree, but sports do not fully identify them. Both were also superb students and campus leaders.

“If baseball ends early at some point, I want to be a firefighter because it feels good to help people, to have people look up to you, and I got a lot of that out of baseball,” Trask said. “I can do that in other things in life, too.”

Said Washington: “Growing up around my dad, a lawyer, it really inspired me to want to help people. I think a lot of times, people don’t know what to do in civil cases. They need help. There are so many ways to help people, and I will as a lawyer.”

A sore elbow from overuse concerned Trask early this season, so much so that his baseball career flashed before him. Trask had his elbow examined and re-examined, and was assured by doctors that everything was in working order. Rest helped, and Trask got better as the season wore on. He went 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA. He didn’t get a decision in a 2-1 win over Granite Bay in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North playoff opener, then tossed a no-hitter to beat Rocklin in a D-I North winner’s bracket game. He capped his high school career with a 7-4 victory in Game 1 over St. Mary’s of Stockton in the section finals. Davis trailed 3-0 early, but Trask gave his team a 4-3 lead with a towering double off the center-field wall. He allowed one hit after the second inning.

Davis (22-13-1) won the title in three games, the program’s third since 2000 with Bee Coach of the Year Dan Ariola.

“It was amazing to win,” Trask said. “The team kept working, kept getting better, and a lot of guys really stepped up. Being down 3-0 against St. Mary’s, it’s part of baseball. You go pitch by pitch and don’t get down, and know your team is there for you and that you trust them as much as they trust you.”

Trask also batted .352 with 11 doubles and 27 RBIs.

Hitting was Washington’s forte, and often resulted in big results. She batted .406 with six doubles, six triples and the 15 homers to go with 44 RBIs.

While Pleasant Grove (26-9-1) lost to powerhouse Vacaville in the section D-I finals, the Eagles were the only team to beat the Bulldogs earlier in the playoffs. Washington said her best friends were on the team and she has memories “for a lifetime.”

Jovial away from the field, Washington laughs about her transformation in competition.

“My coaches joke when I get in the game, and I’m extra intense and focused, and they think it’s almost anger – ‘What’s wrong? You OK?’ ” Washington said. “That’s the type of person I am. I get in a zone. I get my game focus face on.”

Washington hit 10 home runs as a junior and was hoping for at least 11 this season as a mark of improvement. She said the feeling of rounding the bases doesn’t get old.

“So fun,” she said. “My favorite part is making contact, and then you just know and you think, ‘Oh, that’s gone!’ 

Trask and Washington said they are eager to reach college. Big-league clubs were interested in Trask during last week’s draft, but teams held off knowing he was committed to UCLA. The Boston Red Sox called, dangling a $228,000 signing bonus as a fifth-round pick, but Trask didn’t bite. He won’t be eligible for the draft again until after his junior season at UCLA.

“I’m really excited about UCLA,” Trask said. “Baseball has been really special for me. I wouldn’t be going to UCLA without this sport, or have so many great friends from my teams. My life would be so different.”

Said Washington: “I’m ready to start a new chapter and see what life has. But I’m also a little nervous. But it’s a fun nervous. I can’t wait.”

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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