Ty Saunders

Anacortes’ Ty Saunders was the Northwest Conference MVP and will play for the University of Portland next season.

Ty Saunders will suit up next baseball season for the University of Portland.

But first things first.

For his outstanding efforts in his final high school season, the Anacortes senior is the Skagit Valley Herald Baseball Player of the Year.

This season, Saunders hit .362, scored 15 runs and had 11 RBI. On the mound, he had five wins, 87 strikeouts and a 1.49 ERA.

When not pitching, he was playing stellar defense at shortstop.

“Honestly, he (Saunders) is the best defensive shortstop I have ever coached,” Anacortes coach Pat Swapp said. “When he first suited up as a freshman, he showed maturity and ability well beyond his years.

“He has a lot of natural ability. I’ve had other players go D-I, and this is no disrespect to them, but he’s a notch above the rest.”

Saunders was also named the Northwest Conference MVP.

“I am happy with my high school career,” he said. “I’m happy with the relationships I’ve made and with the people I’ve had the opportunity to play with. It has been a lot of fun.”

Saunders prepared well for this season.

He said during the offseason he spent every day in the hitting cage.

That work ethic didn’t go unnoticed.

“He has worked so hard,” Swapp said. “He’s just wired to play baseball and knows what it takes to improve. ... He knows the game and there is just something calming about him when he’s out there (on the diamond) no matter the situation.”

Saunders swung the bat well from both sides of the plate in his second year of switch-hitting.

He said being able to hit from both sides would help him at the next level.

“You can see the off-handed pitchers better,” he said. “The curveball comes into you, rather than going away. Plus, you are faster out of the box from the left side. That helped me.”

While he finds pitching fun, Saunders really enjoys playing shortstop.

“I like to play shortstop because you can control the game,” he said. “You can go talk to your pitcher, there’s a leadership role with it, and a lot of baseballs get hit there as well.”

As he leaves high school behind, Saunders will play about 80 games this summer with the Seattle Stars club team and try to find some time to fish.

He boasts a 3.82 high school GPA, and despite math being his favorite subject he’s undecided about what he will focus on in college.

“I’ll figure it out,” he said. “It’s nice to have pinpointed Portland. It’s a great school, has an up-and-coming baseball program and there are a lot of places to fish. I really love the campus. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Saunders’ goals remain high. He wants to play professional baseball.

“I know what I need to work on and what I need to get better at each and every year to make that happen,” he said. “I am really looking forward to that challenge.”

— Reporter Vince Richardson: 360-416-2181, vrichardson@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/vincereports.

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