North Star's Brantley Rice and Chris Evans garnered Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year honors as part of the 2012 Somerset All-County baseball team selections.
Rice, a right-handed pitcher, went 11-1 this season as the Cougars' ace. When not pitching, he played shortstop for the PIAA Class AA semi-finalists. He batted .434 with 15 RBIs and 30 runs scored.
"I felt that since this was my third year starting, I had more experience than many of the other players on the team," the junior hurler said. "It was my role to step up and be the guy that led the team. I knew everyone was looking up to and counting on me.
"I loved the fact that all eyes were on me. Being the go-to guy was what got me through the high pressure situations. My calmness in big situations is key. I just go out and pitch the way I was taught. I don't let noise bother me. I am focused on throwing strikes and getting outs."
Coach Evans credited Rice's work ethic for his success.
"He's a very hard worker," Evans said. "He goes to Johnstown and works out on his own in the summer.
"He thrives on pressure. The greater the pressure situation, the more he shined this season. In the District 5 championship game, I went out and talked to him with the bases loaded and one out. He didn't remember me talking to him because he was so focused. That makes my job easy."
Rice credited Evans and assistant coaches Mike Blucas and Tyler Revak for pulling the young squad together.
"They really had us all on the same page," Rice said. "They wanted us to have fun but to be serious about every game. I'm really looking forward to playing for them next year and possibly making another run at a state title."
Evan shook off the praise from his pitcher and the other coaches who selected him as Coach of the Year.