Owens makes splash

It could be called the first summer pool party at the home of Mike and Julie Owens, but Monday's big splash wasn't planned.

It was spontaneous. Most certainly, it was joyous.

It happened shortly after their son, Edison pitching sensation Henry Owens, realized a childhood dream early that evening when he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball's 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

What began with high anticipation that day at the Owens home turned into unbridled jubilation after former Red Sox great Jim Rice made the announcement on the MLB Network that the Edison ace was Boston's compensation-round choice (36th overall player selected).

Refrains of the Neil Diamond classic, "Sweet Caroline," a song that has come to be known as the eighth-inning anthem of Red Sox fans at Fenway Park, broke out among the revelers after the news came. While gathering for a group photo outside, Owens' friends tossed the young man of the moment into the family pool. His mother was next in. His father, and others, soon followed.

"It's the first time our pool's been used in a long time," Henry Owens said. "Everybody was singing and a lot of us were in the pool. It was incredible. Words just can't describe it."

Owens's father did find one word to sum it up.

"It was just surreal," Mike Owens said. "I can't think of any other word to describe the moment.

"There were so many friends and families in our house, families of kids who Henry had played with for years, from travel ball and later at Edison, sharing the moment. They all had a genuine happiness for Henry. As a parent, it was an incredible feeling. The past 24 hours has been amazing."

Henry Owens was dominant in going 12-1 with a no-hitter during his senior year, the only setback coming May 27 against Lakewood in the quarterfinal round of the CIF Division 1 playoffs. The hard-throwing left-hander had 140 strikeouts in 17 appearances and a 1.15 earned run average.

Ironically, Owens, 18, said he didn't hear his name called during the selection process. He was upstairs with some friends watching the draft unfold on one of the televisions in the house.

"The downstairs TV is about 30 seconds ahead of the TV upstairs and we heard this roar coming from downstairs," Owens said. "A buddy of mine, Kyle Jones, who played at Edison with me last year, sprinted up the stairs and tackled me. I didn't get to hear them call my name."

Henry Owens now has a decision to make. He had committed on scholarship to Miami back in late-October.

"I'll first have to talk with (Red Sox general manager) Theo Epstein, who called me with the news, and the Red Sox to see what they have to offer," he said. "It's a tough decision but we will talk it over as a family and make the decision. Whatever we decide, it will be the right decision."

Edison Coach Steve Lambright was among those gathered at the Owens home to watch the selection show. In the last eight years, Lambright has had two left-hander pitchers taken in the draft. The first was former Edison star David Huff, who went on to play at Cypress College and then UCLA. Huff was drafted three times (2003, 2005, 2006), the first time at the end of his senior year at Edison (31st round of the MLB Draft by the Angels), the last of which was out of UCLA by the Cleveland Indians in the first supplemental round of the June 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Lambright said that Owens is the highest draft choice to come out of Edison.

"I knew he'd go high but to watch it actually happen, it was unbelievable," said Lambright, who noted that Owens has been clocked between 90-92 mph and "touches" 94.

"Henry's a special kid. He's so grounded and so balanced and all the people who showed up at his house to support him, shows you what kind of kid he is. He's not pretentious. He loves the game and he loves life. I'm very proud of him."

Monday was a full-circle moment for Lambright, who recalled when he put a young Owens on the mound during an American Legion game, before Owens entered his freshman year at Edison.

"I thought I'd throw him into the fire, to test him," Lambright said with a laugh in his voice. "I think he faced nine batters. He walked five guys and hit two guys. I looked at his Dad later and said, 'There'll be better days.' And five years later, here we are."

A sweet ending, indeed.

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