By: Shawn O’Brate
Now that the 2022 American Legion baseball season has ended, with Cheyenne and Cody winning state titles yet again, the All-State awards have been handed out and a handful of Riverton Raiders were talented enough to grace the lists.
Some of these Raiders were first-time members of the All-State first team or second team, but many have been honored with an All-State placement before.
One of those repeat-nominees is shortstop / pitcher Nathan Hutchison who really grew as a leader, and as a hitter, during the 2022 season. Not only was he announced as a first team All-State player at his position this year, but he adds that to his first team mention from last season and multiple All-Conference selections the past two years.
Hutchison joined superstar third-baseman Jorey Anderson, originally from Worland, on the first Team All-State mentions which marked Anderson’s first time on the list.
Those two experienced Raiders were the only ones to grace the first Team but on the All-State Second Team was Hunter Hauck, who typically plays first or third base but has shown his skills on the mound during the season. Hauck’s place on the Second Team is his first time on an All-State team.
All three Raiders were not only great enough for their team to be named to the All-State teams but they also joined some of their other teammates in being named to the 2022 West All-Conference first team.
Anderson’s appearance on the All-Conference first team is the first of his young career, but Hutchison has made the list before (2021 East first team and 2020 West second team). Hauck, on the other hand, was named to the second team All-Conference in the East last season but really showed his talent on the bases this year and earned that first team classification for the first time.
Four Raider players were named to the West All-Conference second team to go along with the three first team players announced. Joel Bever, Darrick DeVries, Carter Noseep and Christopher Reinig all graced the second team list and all did so for the first time in their baseball careers.
Noseep, who could be seen in left field or right field for most of the season, hit a .299 average and had an on-base-percentage (OBP) of .440, which ranked 6th on the team just behind his All-Conference teammate DeVries.
DeVries’ .458 OBP went well with his 17 RBIs and one home run on the season. DeVries also proved his worth for the team on the mound, especially with his team-high 24 strikeouts on the season.
Reinig, whose brother Steven is one of the Raiders’ assistant coaches, threw 17 strikeouts on the mound (third-best on the team) while also hitting the third-highest batting average (.426) on the Raiders’ roster. Another statistic about Reinig that proves he deserved such a distinct honor at the end of the season is his stolen base percentage, 100%, which ranked highest on the team out of any player that attempted three or more steals.
Bever put on a clinic this year as he was in the batter’s box more times (100) than any other Raider and came away with the fourth-most hits on the season (31). Bever was also one of only five Raider players with double-digit steals (10) and was only caught stealing once this whole season.
The other All-Conference Raiders, who were also selected to the All-State team, had some pretty solid stats during the first season under head coach Kevin “Wally” Lofthus, which obviously led to their dual-selection status.
It’s important to remember that while Hauck and Hutchison both played 32 games, Anderson was only able to participate in 21 games due to the Shrine Bowl football game and other post-high school events he was a part of during the Summer.
With that being said, Anderson’s .557 batting average and .636 OBP were the best on the team while his 21 RBIs still rocketed him to the top-three in that category on the Raiders’ squad.
His 21 RBIs were just behind Hauck (38) and Hutchison (56) and his 34 hits over the season trailed Hauck (35) and Hutchison (45) but both were impressive numbers for playing at least ten games less than most ‘A’ team starters.
The three All-State selections were also the top three in stolen bases this season with Hutchison leading the pack at 24 followed by a tie between Hauck and Anderson at 14. Hutchison finished the season with an .889 stolen base percentage and the other two in the group both also tied at .933.
Hutchison’s bats were a huge part of the Raiders’ winning season this year and it showed when looking at the stats. His 10 doubles on the season were the most on the team along with his six triples and seven home runs (not including an inside-the-park HR that was classified under stolen base by error).
Needless to say Hutchison was a huge asset on the diamond, but his leadership in the dugout made coach Lofthus and the rest of the coaching staff raise his responsibilities throughout the season.
“[Hutchison] is absolutely the leader of this team,” coach Lofthus said about his star shortstop earlier this season, “He has a lot of baseball IQ…he’s our player advocate and I consult with him a lot.”
Even though the season didn’t end with a State championship trophy or a banner in the rafters of Roy Peck Field it was still extremely successful for these American Legion players and it shows with the large amount of honors given out by the 97-year old baseball league.
Coach Lofthus, when asked about his All-State and All-Conference players, had nothing but praise for them before their showdown in Douglas on Friday for the All-State game:
“I’m proud of their accomplishments and can’t wait to showcase their skills,” Lofthus said.
Congratulations to all the All-Conference and All-State selected Raiders players, and congrats on a great season that really rallied the whole town of Riverton together during the season!