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PHOTO GALLERY: Mt. Pleasant's Aaron Leasher highlights All-Area Baseball Dream Team

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It is a question that many successful multi-sport high school athletes are faced with when making college decisions.

Which sport offers the most promising path?

Such was the case for Mt. Pleasant senior Aaron Leasher. A successful basketball player and staff ace on the baseball team, Leasher was faced with making a choice between continuing his college career on the hardwood or on the diamond.

He chose the diamond.

“Basketball kind of took over for me early on in my high school. As the years went on, though, I realized the potential I had in baseball and that baseball was a better path for me,” Leasher said. “I realized that going into the summer after my junior year that baseball was probably going to be the right path for me. All of my freshman, sophomore and junior year, basketball was what I was really leaning towards. I was getting some looks from some small schools for basketball and it was something that I was definitely interested in because I wasn’t getting any looks for baseball at the time. After a couple of talks with Coach (Luke) Epple and Coach (Mike) Theunissen, they really discussed the potential I had in baseball and helped steer me towards baseball.

“It was hard making this choice, especially after not playing baseball much at all my sophomore year and having really enjoyed playing basketball. But the coaches helped me realize my potential and helped me blossom into the player I am now.”

Mt. Pleasant head coach Luke Epple saw Leasher’s potential almost immediately, despite the fact that he was sidelined much of his sophomore year with an injury.

“We knew that Aaron had the potential to be this good, so we just had to get him healthy and get him to develop his skills. It’s really been amazing to see him come this far in only two years,” Epple said. “After his injury sophomore year, he really showed tremendous improvement during his junior year. Aaron really worked at improving his pitching and getting stronger and that helped him put his name on the map.

“Aaron really became focused this year because he knew that he had a great shot of becoming a big-time pitcher for us. As far as I can see, Aaron has also always put team goals in front of everything else. Aaron pitches with a lot of confidence and composure, but he is a humble individual who does not like attention over his peers.”

It was during baseball open gym sessions where Leasher developed into the pitcher he is today.

“I started going to a lot more open gyms for baseball and I really owe it to Coach Epple and the coaching staff for the progress that I made. The coaches got me into open gyms and got me working on my pitching and my mechanics and my spots, so a lot of my progression was thanks to them,” Leasher said. “The Mt. Pleasant coaching staff helped me progress from playing five games my sophomore year to having a really good junior year and then keeping it consistent for my senior year.”

This season, Leasher put the finishing touches on an already impressive career by leading Mt. Pleasant to its third state championship with a 7-2 win over Richmond in the Division 2 title game. A Division 2 first team all-state, all-district, all-region and All-Saginaw Valley League honoree, Leasher went 10-3 with one save and sported a 0.75 ERA while striking out 131 batters and walking 40 over 91 innings pitched.

For his body of work this spring, Leasher is being named the Morning Sun Baseball Player of the Year.

Consistency on the mound bred success this season for Leasher and the Oilers.

“Getting those first-pitch strikes across was my goal from the very first game of the season. I wanted to make sure that I stayed consistent, because I don’t throw the hardest. But I stayed consistent and focused on locating all of my pitches,” he said. “If you can do all of those things, then you’ll be successful.”

Although he has not yet made a college decision, Leasher hopes to have a plan in place over next few weeks following more college visits.

Joining Leasher on the Morning Sun Dream Team are:

P – Ty Rollin, Beal City, Sr. – One of the area’s best male athletes, Rollin capped off his prep campaign by going 13-1 this season with a 1.22 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 29 walks in 92 innings pitched. A Division 4 first team All-State, All-District, All-Region and All-Highland Conference honoree, Rollin also batted .453 with 13 doubles, five triples, three home runs, 34 RBIs, 57 runs scored and 28 stolen bases to guide the Aggies to a Division 4 state runner-up finish.

P – Hunter Buczkowski, Mt. Pleasant, So. – A Division 2 second team All-State honoree, Buczkowski pitched beyond his years this spring. The sophomore went 8-2 with two saves and a 1.21 ERA while winning four postseason games for the Oilers. An All-District, All-Region and second team All-SVL choice, Buczkowski struck out 97 batters and walked 29 over 75 1/3 innings pitched to lead Mt. Pleasant to a Division 2 state championship.

P – Austin Myers, Vestaburg, Sr. – An All-District and first team All-MSAC honoree, Myers was instrumental in one of the area’s feel good stories. The senior went 11-3 with a 1.74 ERA and collected 170 strikeouts over 67 walks in 84 1/3 innings pitched to lead Vestaburg to its first conference championship in baseball in 38 years.

C – Nick Hoogerhyde, Beal City, Sr. – A Division 4 first team All-Stater, Hoogerhyde was one of the area’s best defensive catchers. At the plate, the senior hit .411 with six doubles, two triples, 42 RBIs and 39 runs scored to lead Beal City to another state runner-up finish and earn All-District, All-Region and first team All-Highland Conference honors.

IF – Wade SanMiguel, Breckenridge, Jr. – This Division 4 first team All-State selection pieced together a solid year both on the mound and at the plate. An All-District and All-Region honoree, SanMiguel led the Huskies to a Tri-Valley Conference West championship by going 8-2 on the mound with a 1.26 ERA and 70 strikeouts and 23 walks over 61 1/3 innings pitched. The junior allowed just 11 earned runs this spring and held opposing hitters to a .178 batting average. At the plate, SanMiguel hit .569 with 11 doubles five home runs, 26 RBIs and 34 runs scored. SanMiguel also swiped 34 bases and held a .884 fielding percentage while in the infield.

IF – Ryan Tilmann, Beal City, Sr. – An All-District, All-Region and first team All-Highland Conference honoree, Tilmann batted .465 this spring with 10 doubles, one triple, 27 RBIs, 38 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. A three-sport athlete, Tilmann was a key component of Beal City winning its 11th straight Highland Conference championship.

IF – Charlie Bugbee, Clare, Jr. – Behind Bugbee, Clare posted a runner-up finish in the Jack Pine Conference with an 11-3 record. A Division 3 second team All-State honoree, Bugbee registered a .470 batting average with two doubles, two triples, 12 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. The All-District, All-Region and first team All-JPC recipient also went 5-2 on the mound with a 1.70 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings pitched.

IF – Mason Branigan, Shepherd, Jr. – A Division 3 first team All-State, All-District and All-Region selection, Branigan batted .400 this spring with 46 hits, 14 doubles, 39 RBIs and 29 runs scored to lead the Bluejays to a Division 3 district championship and runner-up finish in the Tri-Valley Conference Central. A first team All-TVC Central, Branigan registered a .471 on base percentage and also stole 16 bases.

OF – Logan Hessbrook, Ithaca, Sr. – Hessbrook earned Division 3 first team All-State and first team All-TVC West honors in the outfield for the Yellowjackets. The senior batted .423 with 35 hits, eight doubles, four triples, one home run, 28 runs scored and 23 stolen bases en route to collecting All-District and All-Region accolades.

OF – Dean Marais, Mt. Pleasant, Sr. – Few hitters were as potent as Marais was during Mt. Pleasant’s run towards a state championship. An All-SVL selection, the senior amassed a .402 batting average this spring with 41 hits, 10 doubles, one triple and two home runs while driving in 39 and scoring 29 runs.

OF – Ryan Kathrens, Fulton, Sr. – Kathrens helped lead Fulton to its first Division 4 district championship since 2005. An All-District, All-Region and honorable mention All-Central Michigan Athletic Conference choice, the senior recorded a .401 batting average with 43 hits, eight doubles, one triple, 28 RBIs, 21 runs and 11 stolen bases for the Pirates.

DH – Massa Higa, Harrison, Jr. – A foreign exchange student from Japan, Higa helped lead Harrison to a fourth-place finish in the JPC with a 7-7 record. An All-District and second team All-JPC selection, Higa tallied a .460 batting average with 40 hits, nine doubles, one triple, 28 RBIs, 35 runs and 40 stolen bases. On the mound, the junior went 3-2 with one save while posting a 3.1 ERA with 28 strikeouts over 33 innings pitched.

Coach – Luke Epple, Mt. Pleasant – In his 21st season as head coach of Oilers, Epple won his second Division 2 state championship with Mt. Pleasant’s 7-2 victory over Richmond. The Oilers went 32-8-1 this season under Epple and finished in second place in the SVL, behind Division 1 state champion Bay City Western.

Last Updated: 6/28/2014 4:11:16 PM EST