When asked to describe how valuable Cabe Reiten is to the Olympia High baseball team, coach Todd McDougall immediately remembers a play from a regular-season game against Gig Harbor which would ultimately determine the 4A Narrows League title.
“Gig Harbor was poised to have a big first inning. (The Tides) had a runner on first with one out and their No. 3 hitter smashes a ball right between third and short,” McDougall recalls. “Somehow Cabe is able to track it down right before it reaches the outfield grass. He dives on his belly, gloves it, turns onto his hip and is able to throw out the runner at first.”
The play ended any kind of early momentum for the Tides.
The Bears went on to win the game and, in the process, clinch the league championship.
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“I still don’t know how he made that play,” McDougall said. “It’s a ball that gets by 99 percent of all players. Cabe makes it all look so easy. Defensively he is amazing. The plays he makes on defense are probably worth a run or two a game. He’s that good.”
And it’s likely that the junior, The Olympian’s 2011 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, will only get better with maturity.
In addition to making the spectacular look routine with his glove, Reiten also made big contributions with his bat this season for the Bears.
He had a team-high .413 batting average with 33 hits. He scored 24 runs and collecting 19 RBI while helping Olympia advance to the Class 4A state tournament for the second time in three years.
“I think this year I was able to improve my arm strength and my glove,” said Reiten, who also received Narrows League co-MVP honors. “Another one of my biggest improvements was my speed. It ended up being a great season. Above everything else I was just excited for how well we played as a team.”
Labeled as having a “quiet confidence” by McDougall, Reiten has been a varsity starter for the Bears since his freshman year.
“We didn’t ask him to do much with the bat his first year here,” McDougall said. “He hit ninth. We told him to just go out there and play. A year later he was in the leadoff spot. He improved that much offensively.”
After hitting .475 during his sophomore season the 16-year-old Reiten verbally committed to play college baseball at Gonzaga.
Despite the early commitment, coaches from around the Pacific-10 Conference continue to contact McDougall, inquiring whether the star shortstop has wavered on his college decision.
“He doesn’t just rest on natural ability. He goes out there every day with the goal to improve as a player,” McDougall said. “There are plenty of players who just coast by on talent alone. Cabe’s not one of them. Plus his baseball IQ is off the charts. He’s just a delight to coach and makes my job very easy.”
Reiten anticipates another hectic summer before the start of his senior year.
He said he will play 80-100 games before Labor Day.
“I normally have two or three days off during a month where I am not playing baseball,” Reiten said. “I have tournaments everywhere in Washington, a few in Oregon and a couple other out-of-state tournaments. This has been my summer schedule since about my freshman year. It’s busy, but I’m used to it. It’s what I want to be doing, so it’s a lot of fun getting to play every day.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473
THE OLYMPIAN’S ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cabe Reiten, junior, Olympia
An outstanding defender at shortstop, the Gonzaga commit and co-MVP of the 4A Narrows League batted .413, had 33 hits and drove in 19 runs.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jesse Elam, Tenino
Led the Beavers to a second-place finish at the 1A state tournament, the program’s first state trophy since 1998.
Robert Pehl, senior, Chehalis
The University of Washington-bound Pehl wrapped up his third straight EvCo MVP award. He was 9-1 with an 0.13 ERA, and batted .580 with 33 runs and five homers.
Ben Smith, senior, Timberline
A unanimous first-team all-3A Narrows selection, he was 7-0 with an 1.80 ERA. Will play at Centralia College.
Colin Lang, senior, Olympia
First-team all-4A Narrows pick went 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA. He also batted .346 and had an OPS of .926.
Ryan Schlesser, senior, Tenino
A first-team all-SWW 1A Evergreen pick and four-year starter, he hit .444.
Jourdan Weiks, senior, Capital
A four-year starter at shortstop, Weiks is the school’s all-time leader in doubles (29) and RBI (79). Hit .447 with 27 RBI this season. Will play at the University of San Francisco.
Charlie Hinson, junior, Timberline
The 3A Narrows League MVP and Blazers first baseman had a team-best 28 hits while hitting .412. He was also posted a 7-2 record pitching with 63 strikeouts in 49 innings.
Erik Forgione, senior, Chehalis
The UW signee and switch-hitter batted .444 and stole 21 bases, leading Chehalis to a third-place 2A state trophy.
Robbie Ortiz, junior, Timberline
Led his team in average (.426) and on-base percentage (.532), and accumulated 26 hits and drove in 19 runs.
Cole Loncar, senior, Olympia
He had a team-leading 29 RBI, and was second in average (.403) and hits (31). Will play at Saint Martin’s University.
Jace Feldmeier, senior, Tumwater
A unanimous first-team all-EvCo pick, Feldmeier hit .368, had 32 hits and drove in 25 runs.
Andrew Pullin, junior, Centralia
Despite missing some games with injury, Pullin batted .446 with six home runs and 18 RBI. He also went 3-1 as a pitcher with 36 strikeouts in 30 innings.
Chris Bishop, senior, Rochester
The two-time SWW 1A Evergreen MVP batted .474, had 30 RBI and belted seven home runs. He also was a dominant pitcher (8-2, with 89 strikeouts in 482/3 innings).
Brad Wallace, sophomore, River Ridge
The Hawks’ center fielder excelled in the field (no errors) and batted .413 with 26 hits and 10 stolen bases.
Meg Wochnick, staff writer