Sports

Ochoa named 1A/B All-State starter

A batter’s worst nightmare: Richie Ochoa struck out 127 batters in 82 innings his junior year as a Wolverine. He has been named a 1A/B All-State starter. - Journal file photo / Scott Rasmussen
A batter’s worst nightmare: Richie Ochoa struck out 127 batters in 82 innings his junior year as a Wolverine. He has been named a 1A/B All-State starter.
— image credit: Journal file photo / Scott Rasmussen

Pitcher went 12-1 for the season, striking out 127 hitters in 82 innings

Wolverine Richie Ochoa’s solid play this year did not go unnoticed as the state’s coaches and sportswriters named him a 1A/B All-State starter.

Ochoa will be a senior in September at Friday Harbor High School.

According to Coach Rich Warin, the honor — lately shared by earlier Wolverines Peter Shanks, Matt Rothlisberger and Chas Lawson — is more than a recognition of a season of personal bests and consistent outstanding play. First teams for 4A to 1A/B schools are selected by the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association and the Skagit Valley Herald.

The coaches and sportswriters analyze statistics and compare skills from teams across the state.

As starting pitcher, Ochoa, an AP student who carries a 3.7 GPA, had a banner year. He was selected as a league MVP and his stellar pitching helped the Wolverines to an undefeated season in league play.

Ochoa went 12-1 for the season, striking out 127 hitters in 82 innings and ending the season with a .60 ERA. He had 33 RBIs and a .435 batting average.

His only loss came at the hands of Bellevue Christian in the playoffs as he gave up only 4 hits in the season-ending 2-0 loss.

“He had a great year. He’s a good hitter. He hits with power,” Warin said.

Proud mom Julie Ochoa said that someone in Seattle noticed Richie’s name in a recent issue of The Seattle Times and called her.

“Matt Rothlisberger read about it in the newspaper and called Rich Warin about it. That’s how we found out,” she said.

Ochoa was a pivotal team player all year, churning out power both on the mound and at the plate.

“I”m most proud of the Orting game,” he said. “I was going on short rest, and I pitched really well, and we went on to win.”

Since the end of the school year, Ochoa, along with teammates Roy Taylor and Michael Knowles, are playing summer league baseball on a team in Everett, the North Corner Tribe. Summer league baseball, Ochoa said, is comprised of the strongest players from many 3A and 4A schools along the I-5 corridor.

It’s against those stronger players that Ochoa longs to play.

“My biggest challenge is that I need to pitch against tougher teams,” Ochoa said. “In this league, we don’t get to see stronger teams all year. We need to face better hitters. It makes the team better for playoffs.”

Ochoa, Taylor and Knowles will get their wish, playing “about 40” games in five tournaments before school starts in September, Ochoa said.

“My biggest challenge is keeping on track and finding competition that meets my skill level. Not playing down,” Ochoa said. Stronger hitters change the calculus of the game and strong pitchers like Ochoa need the competition to raise the level of their game.

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