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La Cañada baseball's Clayton Herrmann takes Rio Hondo League's top honor

Baseball: Offensive spark, defensive anchor earns first all-league recognition with top honor in senior season.

June 13, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • FiLE PHOTO: La Cañada's shortstop Clayton Herrmann makes a throw to first base for a out against California in an opening CIF Southern Section Division IV playoff baseball game at La Cañada High School on Thursday, May 16, 2013. La Cañada won the game 4-2.
FiLE PHOTO: La Cañada's shortstop Clayton… (Tim Berger / Times…)

Perhaps no single player better symbolized the turnaround season the La Cañada High baseball team enjoyed than Clayton Herrmann.

Brought up to the varsity team as a sophomore to play shortstop, Herrmann had been a mainstay with the Spartans the past three seasons. In 2013, he went from a recognizable face to a feared one. He stepped into much bigger roles in his senior season, as a team captain and emotional leader, offensive spark and closer on the mound.

After wearing all those hats, Herrmann was named the Rio Hondo League co-Most Valuable Player with Monrovia's Chris Burkholder to fulfill a longtime personal goal.

"It definitely wasn't something I told anyone, but it was in the back of my mind," Herrmann said of his goal to be MVP. "We sat down at the beginning of the season and wrote down our individual goals, it's not something I put down, but it's definitely something I wanted to be."

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It's the first time Herrmann has ever received an all-league honor, as he never received a first-, second-team or honorable mention selection the previous two years.

"He'd never got nominated for any award," said first-year La Cañada Coach Alex Valadez, who also had three first-teamers in Johnny Selsor, Scott Moulin and Justin Lewis after the Spartans won the league title for the first time in eight years after tying for last place a year ago.

Herrmann was most dominant as a pitcher. He emerged as the team's closer and logged a 2-0 record with six saves after not allowing a single run until the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs to post a 0.50 earned-run average.

La Cañada's stopper also struck out 15 batters, walked four and allowed 10 hits in 11 appearances and 14 innings pitched to post a .196 (10 for 52) batting average against.

"There wasn't one specific game or time where he told me I'd be the closer," Herrmann said of Valadez, "but it definitely got to the point where I felt if it was late in the ballgame and he came to the mound, I was the one he would call on."

Herrmann led La Cañada in a number of offensive categories — batting average (.355), runs (14) and also tied Selsor for the lead in runs batted in (14) and with Moulin and George Steckbeck for doubles (five). His on-base (.453) and slugging (.435) percentages and six stolen bases were both top-two marks for the Spartans.

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