The county's best clutch hitter, Atholton's Brian Van Deusen, is The Howard County Sun's Player of the Year.
Van Deusen sported an incredible .650 (13-for-20) average with runners in scoring position. His RBI total was 17.
The senior second baseman led the county co-champion Raiders with a lofty .717 slugging percentage that included 12 doubles, second-highest in the Baltimore area.
Van Deusen also had a home run and a triple while leading the Raiders with 49 total bases.
His overall batting average was .471 (32-for-68), the highest in his three varsity seasons. He batted .292 and .296 in previous seasons, when he had a reputation as a good glove "but weak stick."
He's no stranger to the all-county team. He was a first-team pick his sophomore year when he didn't make an error in 57 chances.
His fielding was nearly as good this year: he made just three errors in 55 chances.
But stats aside, Van Deusen stood above the crowd for his
knowledge of the game and ability to make extraordinary plays.
Whether it was backhanding a grounder up the middle and then throwing out a speedy runner trying to advance to third or faking a throw to first and catching a runner napping off third base, Van Deusen displayed the savvy that comes from being a serious student of the game.
He lacks speed but compensates with concentration and good judgment. Twice this season he turned what would have been ground ball singles between third base and shortstop into doubles purely through heads-up play.
"He's got savvy and does the little things that other kids don't do," said Atholton coach Kevin Kelly. "He's a cut above other players, even though he doesn't have great natural athletic ability."
Van Deusen also played football and basketball for Atholton, and was the football team's offensive player of the year.