2021 Baseball Players of the Year: Longtime teammates Bosserman, Keller share award

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Grain Valley senior Parker Bosserman (15) is greeted by teammates Parker Stone (19) and Riley Bown (8) after scoring a run in a Class 5 state semifinal win over Rockwood Summit. Bosserman hit .504 with a school-record 63 hits, second most in state history for a single season, and had 23 extra base hits for the Eagles, who finished second in the state in Class 5. He shares The Examiner's 2021 Baseball Player of the Year award with his longtime teammate Cole Keller.

For as long as Cole Keller and Parker Bosserman can remember, they have either been teammates – or the occasional opponent – on the baseball field. 

They started out as T-ball all-stars, Keller starring for the Cardinals while Bosserman was the Royals’ go-to guy. 

Over the next 14 years, they created a legacy of greatness, culminating with a senior season to remember as each of them played a key role in Grain Valley’s 27-9 run to the Class 5 state final four, where the Eagles finished in second place to Willard – a bitter pill each of them may never swallow. 

Before that stinging 9-8 loss in the championship game, Keller struck out 14 and drove home three runs in a 7-2 rout of Rockwood Summit in the state semifinal

Bosserman hit .504 for the season and finished with a school-record 63 hits – which is tied for the second-best total in state history. The previous Grain Valley record of 47 was set by Kyle Clark in 2017.

More:2020 Football Offensive Player of the Year: Keller overcomes injury to lead 10-2 Eagles, earn college scholarship

Grain Valley senior Cole Keller throws a pitch during a Class 5 state semifinal win over Rockwood Summit. Keller was a force on the mound and the plate and shares the 2021 Examiner Baseball Player of the Year with his longtime teammate, Parker Bosserman.

It's impossible to think of Keller without mentioning Bosserman, and vice-versa, as the two lifelong friends become just the second players in Examiner history to share The Examiner's Baseball Player of the Year Award. The first duo was 1999 Blue Springs catcher Rusty Meyer and pitcher Rick Wilson, who led the Wildcats to their first state championship. 

"They deserve it," said Eagles coach Brian Driskell, whose team won the most games and earned the highest state finish in school history. "Parker probably had the best offensive season in Grain Valley baseball history. Against the level of competition we played, I'd say it's pretty incredible. 

"Cole was the engine on this team.  We would not have made it to state without him. He is one of those special kids that I will miss many years from now – a wonderful character kid who did outstanding work in the classroom. 

"If there was a big game, they were ready for it. Cole wanted to be on the mound or up to bat and Parker wanted to be at bat, or have the ball hit to him at shortstop. And what can you say about a .504 batting average? Guys in Sunday softball leagues don't hit .504. He had 63 hits in 36 games – unbelievable." 

It's the perfect ending to their baseball legacies, which will continue with Keller playing football at Washburn University and Bosserman staying with baseball at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

"It's pretty cool to share this with Cole," Bosserman said, "but I know both of us would trade any personal honor for a state championship. I'm still upset about that loss (Bosserman took the loss in relief) and don't know if I will ever forget it. 

More:Versatile weapon: Bosserman's adaptable skills help power Grain Valley's offense

"But, getting back to the award, I remember when I was with the Royals and Cole was with the Cardinals in T-ball. Then I think we were on different teams for some reason in fourth grade, but we've been teammates on every other team since then and this is a great way to end our playing days together." 

Grain Valley's Parker Bosserman (pitching) and Cole Keller have been teammates for most of their lives, including youth baseball. They share The Examiner's 2021 Baseball Player of the Year award after helping lead the Eagles to a Class 5 state second-place finish.

Keller said he and Bosserman fed off each other. 

"Parker was always the best hitter and the best fielder and I wanted to be the best, too, so he made me a better player," Keller said. "He made me work so hard, and I'd hope that I made him work hard, too. We both hate to lose more than we like to win and I think that's a big reason we've been successful over the years. 

More:Keller, Jeffries lead Grain Valley baseball to first state final four in 18 years

"That loss at state was hard – really hard. I think about it all the time, but that loss will not define our team, me or Parker, or the Grain Valley baseball team. We had one of the best years in history and there is a lot to enjoy, even though it didn't have that fairy tale ending we all wanted." 

Bosserman finished the season with 23 extra base hits, including four home runs, 39 RBIs and 44 runs scored to go with a 1.343 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage). He was 1-2 on the mound, mostly as a reliever, and had a 3.76 ERA. 

"He had the best year at shortstop I've ever seen," Driskell said. "As great as he was as a hitter, he was equally great at shortstop." 

Keller hit .394 with 14 extra base hits, 36 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a 1.009 OPS as he played third base and the outfield when he wasn't on the mound. He was 3-0 in the postseason and finished with a 7-2 record, 73 strikeouts in 55 innings and a 1.66 ERA. 

"Cole hit between Parker and Kaden Jeffries, who was on the all-state team with Cole and Parker and Riley Bown, and he probably faced tougher pitches than anyone else in our lineup. The bigger the game, the better he played. He was a beast, and I'm glad he was on our side." 

More:Grain Valley Eagles' Cole Keller nabs MVP award, leads Missouri all-stars past Kansas

2021 All-Area Baseball 

FIRST TEAM 

P – Wyatt Clark, sr., Blue Springs South — 4-2, 1.43 ERA, 41 strikeouts, 19 walks, .181 opponent batting average, 1.22 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched); MHSBCA Class 6 All-State honorable mention; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight; MHSBCA Senior All-Star; signed with University of Central Missouri.  

C – Antonio Graham, soph., William Chrisman — .346, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 11 RBIs, .432 on-base percentage, .420 slugging percentage, .864 OPS, 1.000 fielding percentage (no errors all season); all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six. 

IF – Parker Bosserman, sr., Grain Valley — .504, 13 doubles, 6 triples, 4 HR, 39 RBIs, 44 runs, school single-season record 63 hits (second best total in state history), 8 walks, .543 on-base percentage, .800 slugging percentage, 1.343 OPS; MHSBCA Class 5 All-State first team; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six; signed with Kansas City Kansas Community College; Examiner 2021 Co-Player of the Year. 

IF – Ben Bryan, sr., Blue Springs South — .364, 7 doubles, 1 triples, 1 HR, 24 RBIs, 20 runs, 13 walks, 9 stolen bases, .457 on-base percentage, .545 slugging percentage, 1.002 OPS; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight; MHSBCA Academic All-State; NHSBCA Academic All-American. 

IF – Grant Hollister, fresh., Blue Springs South — .459, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 25 RBIs, 25 runs, 12 walks, only 8 strikeouts, 12 stolen bases, .509 on-base percentage, .602 slugging percentage, 1.111 OPS; MHSBCA Class 6 All-State first team; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight. 

IF – Kaden Jeffries, jr., Grain Valley — .438, 13 doubles, 3 HR, 46 RBIs (school record), 28 runs, 94 walks, .489 on-base percentage, .620 slugging percentage, 1.109 OPS; MHSBCA Class 5 All-State honorable mention; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six. 

IF – Sam Scott, sr., Truman — .381, 11 doubles, 1 HR, 21 RBIs, 20 runs, 13 walks, .466 on-base percentage, .526 slugging percentage, .991 OPS; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six. 

OF – Isaiah Frost, sr., Blue Springs South — .471, 6 doubles, 4 triples, 10 RBIs, 19 runs, 11 stolen bases, 16 walks, only 7 strikeouts, .597 on-base percentage, .745 slugging percentage, 1.342 OPS, perfect fielding percentage in center field; MHSBCA Class 6 All-State honorable mention; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight; signed with Missouri. 

OF/Utility – Riley Bown, sr., Grain Valley — .319, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 25 RBIs, .370 on-base percentage, .457 slugging percentage, .827 OPS; 5-1 with 1.71 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 42 strikeouts, 12 walks as pitcher; MHSBCA Class 5 All-State second team; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six. 

OF/Utility – Cole Keller, sr., Grain Valley — .394, 10 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 36 RBIs, 33 runs, 13 walks, 14 stolen bases, .455 on-base percentage, .554 slugging percentage, 1.009 OPS; 7-2 with 1.66 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 73 strikeouts, 30 walks as pitcher; MHSBCA Class 5 All-State first team; all-district; All-Suburban Middle Six; 2021 Examiner Co-Player of the Year. 

DH – Austin Neuweg, jr., Blue Springs — .421, 3 doubles, 4 triples, 1 HR, 22 RBIs, 16 runs, 14 stolen bases, 7 walks, only 9 strikeouts, .470 on-base percentage, .605 slugging percentage, 1.075 OPS; all-district; All-Suburban Big Eight. 

SECOND TEAM 

P – Joey Gibler, jr., Blue Springs 

P – Colton Minks, jr., Blue Springs South 

P – Trenton Roehler, soph., Blue Springs South 

C – Alec Butler, jr., Blue Springs 

C – Ty Campbell, sr., Blue Springs South 

IF – Caleb Berry, sr., St. Michael the Archangel 

IF – Nick Gibler, fresh., Blue Springs 

IF – Keaton Latlip, sr., Blue Springs South 

IF – Quinton Robertson, sr., Blue Springs South 

IF – Lincoln Stephenson, fresh., Blue Springs 

OF – Haiden Armstrong, jr., Oak Grove 

OF – Devin Blayney, jr., Lee's Summit North 

OF – Leo Henderson, sr., William Chrisman 

OF – Gavin Smith, soph., Blue Springs 

OF – Zachary Tillman, soph., Fort Osage 

DH/Utility – Trey Kates, soph., William Chrisman 

DH/Utility – Greg Menne, jr., Fort Osage 

DH/Utility – Korey Messick, soph., Van Horn 

DH/Utility – Simon Murray, sr.., Lee's Summit North 

HONORABLE MENTION 

Blue Springs: Cole Gibler, fresh., OF; Blue Springs South: Jordan Austin, jr., OF; Trenton Trieb, sr., OF/P; Fort Osage: Nick Tinoco, jr., IF; Blake Williams, sr., OF; Grain Valley: Cole Arndorfer, sr., C; Joel Palecek, jr., P; Parker Stone, sr., DH; Lee's Summit North: Carter Bradford, sr., P; Blake Davis, jr., IF; Jake Rice, soph., IF; Oak Grove: Dalton Chaney, sr., OF; Carson Smith, jr., IF/P; St. Michael the Archangel: Caleb Briggs, soph., OF; Matthew Davis, jr., IF; Ian McVey, soph., P; Jackson Stringfield, jr., OF; Noland Vahle, sr., C; Truman: Dane Blankenship, sr., P; Ben Kerby, soph., OF/P; William Chrisman: Andru Campos. jr., IF/C; Kona Hudson, jr., P.