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Helmstetter named MVP

Senior Nick Helmstetter was honored as the Most Valuable Playerat Monday night’s Brookhaven Baseball Awards Banquet held at theBrookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s main headquarters. Apitcher/infielder, Helmstetter overcame an early-season ankleinjury to lead the team with an impressive .508 batting average.The 6-foot, 190-pounder had a .630 on-base percentage.

Ole Brook head baseball coach Randy Spring said Helmstetter’sbatting average was by far the best individual mark in his 10 yearsat the helm. A Meridian Community College signee, Helmstetter hasbeen selected to play in the June 6 Mississippi High SchoolAll-Star Game at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

BHS public address announcer Stan Patrick welcomed the crowd andprovided the invocation prior the meal that was catered by Broma’sDeli. Spring addressed the group and thanked everyone “for helpingmake our program a success.”

He recognized his three assistant coaches in Eric Stokes, DustinLott and Dwayne Oberschmidt. “We’ve been together four years andthat kind of consistency really helps our program.”

He also thanked his wife, Amy, and the wives of his assistantcoaches for their patience and support. Spring said his Panthersmade the best of a difficult year, overcoming injuries andadversity. Helmstetter (ankle) and Bud Britt (arm), both preseasonall-state players, were injured in the first two games of theseason.

“Bud only threw 13 pitches before he was injured,” said Spring.”He waited until after the season to have surgery. He wanted tohelp our team any way he could.”

Britt, a Co-Lin scholarship signee, batted .461 this season andhad a team-best 29 RBIs.

Zach Halliwell, another projected starter on the mound, wasbothered by arm trouble before the season began.

“Our season got off to a rough start but we had positiveresults,” said Spring. “We had younger players who had to step upand become starters. They will be back next year.”

For the record, BHS finished 20-8, finishing runner-up toLawrence County in the Division 6-4A race. The Panthers lost toLong Beach in the opening round of the state playoffs.

“Going 20-8 in a frustrating year is an accomplishment,” saidSpring. “I would settle for 20 wins every year but I don’t want thefrustration like this year.”

Nine of Brookhaven’s players batted over 300 and 4 batted over.400. The Panthers averaged 9.5 runs per game.

Britt, Helmstetter, shortstop Gabe Wilson and outfielder JarvisWilbert were First Team selections on the All-Division 6-4A squad.Receiving honorable mention were Brandon Foster, Elliott McKee,Issac Jones and Halliwell.

Spring began the presentation of individual awards. Wilbertreceived the BHS Academic Award, posting a 94 average in theclassroom. He and Helmstetter were named permanent TeamCaptains.

Britt, who hit 3 homers, was recognized as Best OffensivePlayer. Wilson, with a .924 fielding percentage at shortstop, wasnamed Best Defensive Player.

Helmstetter, who posted a 5-3 pitching record and a stingy 0.71ERA, received the Best Pitcher Award.

Jones was selected the Most Improved Player. He batted .328.

Southpaw pitcher Brandon Foster (7-3) received the Mr. HustleAward. Patrick Valentine, 2-0 on the mound, received the PantherAward.

Spring recognized his four seniors near the end of the ceremonyand complimented them for their contributions. As a group, they hada combined .423 batting average in 2009. Britt owns a .458 careerbatting average.

In a special presentation, Patrick recognized A.J. Spring as theofficial Ole Brook Cook at home games. He was presented with a redapron acknowledging the title.