• 2013 All-Area Baseball: Pike carrying on tradition

  • Fort Osage High School baseball head coach Chris Walker played with Indian icons like Bill Overbeck and Brent Wilhelm.

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  • Fort Osage High School baseball head coach Chris Walker played with Indian icons like Bill Overbeck and Brent Wilhelm.
    He coached Chris Francka, Scott Hanna and likely future Baseball Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, who has won three MVP awards with the St. Louis Cardinals.
    The Indians produced the 2011 Examiner Player of the Year in Alex Greer, who was recently drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.
    “I’ve played with or coached most of the great baseball players at Fort Osage,” Walker said, “but none of them did what Derek Pike did this past season.”
    The Indians had won district championships in football and basketball and there was a bit of pressure on the baseball team to join that winning duo.
    “We were in a must-win game against Oak Park,” Walker said. “If we want a district championship, we have to beat Oak Park – and Derek hits a grand slam homer in the first inning and then hits a two-run homer and drives in a seventh run later in the game. He has seven RBIs and we win 13-1 – and go on and win that district championship.
    “Overbeck, Wilhelm, Albert – I never saw any of them have a game like that.”
    Pike had a “dream” senior season for the district champion Indians, leading the team with four homers, an area-high 28 RBIs, 21 runs, a .400 batting average, a .481 on-base percentage, a .643 slugging percentage and no errors in 54 chances in the field.
    When he wasn’t playing first base or left field, he was 4-2 with a save on the mound with a 1.58 ERA, 40 strikeouts and just nine walks in 40 innings.
    “When I was coaching softball, we’d be out practicing and a lot of baseball guys were out there in the batting cages. That’s when I knew this was going to be a special team. And you don’t find many players who are more special than Derek Pike,” Walker said.
    Pike joins Greer as the second Indian in the past three years to win The Examiner’s Player of the Year Award.
    “Derek really deserves it,” Walker said. “Greer was a great player and Pike is a great player, too. He was one of those three great seniors (along with Luke Crabb and Alex Merithew) who provided so much senior leadership and made this a special year.”
    When informed that he was the player of the year, Pike seemed surprised.
    “Really?” he asked earlier this week. “There were some great players in the area. It’s an honor. It’s so cool with Alex winning it a couple of years ago to win it this year.”
    Pike said Greer and Walker each played roles in his development, as he was far from a polished all-around player as a sophomore.
    Page 2 of 2 - “My first start as a sophomore, I give up 11 runs and get one out in my first start against Blue Springs South,” Pike said, chuckling. “After that game, Alex and Coach Walker tell me it’s going to be OK. I bet they don’t even remember it, but I do. I was thinking about quitting – and now, well, it all turned out pretty well.”
    When that story was recounted to Walker, he said, “You bet I remember it. I think if Derek could have dug a hole on the mound and crawled into it, he would have. I told him after a start like that, it can only get better – and it got a whole lot better.”
    Pike has worked hard to become a complete player and he will join his fellow seniors at the next level, as he will play baseball at Allen County (Kan.) Community College while Crabb will play at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College and Merithew will play at Rockhurst.
    “It’s pretty cool that we’re all three going to play in college,” Pike said. “That was one of our goals. The other was winning district this year. I talked with D’Vante (Mosby, who played football and basketball) and Steven (McBee, the starting quarterback on the football team) about winning a district championship before the (baseball) season even started.
    “I told them we weren’t going to let anyone down, and we went out and got the job done.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
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