Pinnacle High School Baseball
Pinnacle High fans were hyped and rowdy as the baseball team got off to an early 1-0 lead in a home playoff game against Valley Vista High. But then the visiting team delivered a series of gut punches, stinging line drives that suddenly flipped the lead around and more. The home team was down 5-1, and it looked like a promising season could come to a sudden end.
But the Pioneers were not about to give up. They put together a few hits, scoring one run. Baserunners were on first and second with two out when Pinnacle shortstop Kobie Foppe stepped to the plate.
It was a clutch situation, and this was just the man Pinnacle coach John Casey wanted to have a bat in his hands. Last year, playing for Notre Dame Prep, Foppe went on a playoff tear, smashing eight hits, including four doubles, in the final three playoff games to lead Notre Dame to a state title in Division II.
For his senior year, with a scholarship to Arizona State University already in his back pocket, Foppe decided for personal family reasons to transfer to Pinnacle, just down the street from his family’s North Phoenix home. “I loved playing for Coach Brian Fischer at Notre Dame but playing for my neighborhood high school and for Coach Casey made the transition easy for me. I also like that it’s a Division 1 school and I get to compete at the highest level,” Foppe said.
Foppe was a dynamic force for Pinnacle throughout his final season of high school ball. In the first 29 games of the year, he pounded the ball at a .450 clip. He was dialed in all year, striking out only four times in 109 plate appearances. He scored 29 runs, putting himself in scoring position with 23 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
Gerard Hernandez, who like Foppe is listed as a major league prospect by bigleaguefutures.net, came through big-time in his senior year, hammering nine home runs while hitting .375 with 18 RBIs and 32 runs scored. Perfectgame.com ranks Hernandez No. 147 overall in the country as a high school baseball prospect, No. 33 as an outfielder nationally and No. 4 in Arizona overall. On the mound for Pinnacle, sophomore Blake Flint emerged as a star, winning his first eight starts with an ERA below 2.
Flint struggled in the early innings against Valley Vista, but being down by four runs didn’t shake up Foppe. He has been through pressure-packed playoffs before, particularly last season, when Notre Dame Prep lost the first game of the double-elimination finals and then went on to win 5 straight elimination games through the title game. “It helped me here, knowing you just don’t give up,” he said. As for the deficit to Valley, “I wasn’t too worried. We have good team chemistry.”
So he was right at ease, stepping up to the plate with runners on first and second, down by three runs. As usual, he had been locked on to pitches all game. In his first at bat, he had sent a rocket to left center, but it was caught. He flied out to right his second time up. In his key third at-bat, he took a few pitches off the plate and was early on a couple other pitches, hitting sharp foul balls to the left of the third base line. With a full count, Foppe’s swing perfectly timed the next pitch and it jumped off his bat. The ball soared deep to right center, just off the glove of the right fielder.
His double made it a 5-4 game. On the next pitch, the speedy daredevil stole third base, diving in head-first just ahead of the throw. A base hit brought him home as the tying run, and then Pinnacle scored another run for the lead. It was tense the rest of the way, but the Pioneers held on with a season-saving 6-5 win.
After the thrilling win, the Pioneers lost two close games, ending a short playoff run and finishing the season with a 24-10 record. With high school baseball over, Kobie Foppe will graduate and then hit the weights. He hopes to add 10 pounds to his 5-foot-10, 160-pound frame, to be ready to face the blazing fastballs and nasty sliders of college pitching next season. After ASU, he hopes to keep going and play professional baseball.
Ken Knutson, ASU assistant coach and lead recruiter, gave a scouting report when the shortstop signed a letter of intent last year: “Kobie is a premium leadoff hitter and a great base runner. He can really pick it up defensively.” At Arizona State, Foppe will join fellow Pinnacle graduates Eric Melbostad and Jake Peevyhouse, two key players on this season’s Sun Devils team.
Foppe, Hernandez and company weren’t the only Pinnacle High athletes to shine in the spring season.
Tatum Waggoner, headed to the University of Arizona on a running scholarship after setting six school records in cross country and track, finished her Pinnacle career strong. At the state track tournament, she finished fourth in the 200 and a close second in the 400-meter.
The softball team finished 17-15, with a phenomenal season at the plate from junior Kourtney Pock. She batted .541, with five home runs and 23 doubles, an amazing .908 slugging average and 1.468 OPS. Look out for this team next season, with the one-two punch of Pock and fellow junior Rylie Nance, who hit .481 this season.