Carlmont second baseman Kyle Barret led the PAL Bay Division in batting average (.446), RBIs (27) and home runs (4) to win the Triple Crown and earn co-Player of the Year honors.
If you took the offense of Kyle Barret and the defense of Aaron Pleschner, you might just have the makings of a young Troy Tulowitzki.
Through its ups-and-downs this season, Carlmont still managed to share the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division co-championship with Terra Nova and advance to its seventh consecutive Central Coast Section postseason.
Barret and Pleschner were a big reason why. Unfortunately for Carlmont, Pleschner only played seven games throughout his junior season after breaking his foot in an early-season matchup with Riordan. But that is when Barret’s bat emerged as the game-changer for the Scots.
The presence of Pleschner proved a winning component as the Scots posted a 5-1-1 record in the regular season with him in the lineup, before Carlmont was knocked out of the opening round of the CCS playoffs by Leigh.
“Incredible loss,” Carlmont manager Rich Vallero said of the injury to Pleschner. “He’s one of the most talented defensive shortstops that I’ve seen in my high school career. We’ve been blessed to be talented in that area, first with Kyle Barret and then with Aaron Pleschner. Both guys are going to be Division-I baseball players.”
Barret is bound for University of Arkansas at Little Rock next season. Meanwhile, Pleschner is verbally committed to San Jose State to play his freshman season for the Spartans in 2016.
As a good match over the middle in the short time they did play together this season, Pleschner and Barret have quite different make-ups
“My main focus is definitely offense,” Barret said. “I love to hit. And I love to base run and do all that kind of stuff. My main focus is offense, and it definitely showed this year, but defense is part of my game as well.”
His assessment of Pleschner, though, is that the junior is a natural talent as a burgeoning wunderkind shortstop.
“I think for Pleschner, it’s a lot of natural ability,” Barret said. “He’s really loose. He’s got the strong arm. The mechanics are pretty simple for him because he has that natural ability. He’s obviously put in that work and now he has the confidence that carries over into the game. You can definitely see that when you watch him play.”
During Pleschner’s absence, it was Barret who shouldered the load during the two-month absence of his injured double-play partner. The senior second baseman won the PAL Bay Division Triple Crown by hitting .446 with four home runs and 27 RBIs en route to winning co-Player of the Year honors, along with Terra Nova’s Jacob Martinez.
“[Barret] single-handedly put our offense on his back and carried us to the finish line,” Vallero said. “There’s no fluke that he was Player of the Year.”
The biggest swing of Carlmont’s season came off the bat of Barret. With Carlmont holding a 1-0 lead against Menlo on May 7, Barret hit a grand slam to give his team a five-run lead in a game the Scots went on to win 5-1. The victory clinched a share of the PAL Bay Division championship.
Barret’s key grand slam made a serious impression on former Menlo manager Craig Schoof, who is leaving his post with the Knights and stepping down as Menlo’s athletic director at the end of the season. He will be taking over as athletic director of Oakwood Secondary School in Los Angeles in the fall.
Schoof said Player of the Year awards are often based on statistics out of sheer necessity. After all, coaches only have a chance to see opposing players in the few games in which their teams meet in a given season. But Barret is legit both sides of the ball, Schoof said.
“What happened with Kyle, [the Player of the Year award] was more because of his offense,” Schoof said. “And people go, ‘He is a really good second baseman. He is a DI second baseman as well.’ On the flip side, if he was a butcher out there, he probably still would have been the MVP of the league.”
The grand slam marked quite a turnaround after the Scots struggled with the loss of Pleschner at the start of the year. After he hit the injured list, Carlmont went 2-5 over its next seven games, including a three-game losing streak.
The Scots matched that streak to close the season with three consecutive losses, with a key loss to Terra Nova on the final day of the regular season. A win in the game would have meant an outright Bay Division title for Carlmont.
“It was kind of tough losing that last game in the regular season because we shared the league title,” Barret said. “But overall, it was just really fun that we were down [early in the season] and as a team, and a coaching staff, we were just trying to figure out a way to make CCS … and how to Band-Aid the team to get it back to winning some games. And we ended up winning a lot of games. It was really fun. We really weren’t expecting to win the league at that point. We were just trying to get into [the top three in the standings] to get into CCS. We got more confident and it was just a really fun year.”
Carlmont went on to fall to Leigh in the opening round of CCS.
“It was a tough ending to the season,” Barret said. “Any time you’re not winning the championship you’re going to end up losing the last game. But as far as losing in CCS, Leigh was a pretty good team. I mean, any time we step on the field we feel we have a chance to win, but at the end of the day they were the better team.”
Before Barret departs for college, he will be playing summer wood-bat ball for the San Francisco Seagulls, who opened their season Tuesday evening at Fairmont Park in Pacifica. It was last summer during Barret’s time with the travel-ball team Trofsky Baseball out of Saratoga where he refined his approach at the plate.
“I think probably [last] summer I just kept working on different stuff — more of like a professional approach to hitting,” Barret said. “Not just getting up there and swinging for it, but really zoning in and getting my pitch and doing stuff like that. Over the summer, playing a lot of games against good pitching really helped me fine-tune that.”
The Scots swept the individual awards as Matt Seubert was named Bay Division Pitcher of the Year.