Turnaround seasons were exactly what the Flintridge Prep and La Cañada High baseball teams enjoyed this past year.
The Rebels and Spartans each relied on their senior leaders — Karlsen Termini and Clayton Herrmann — to lead them to success in their leagues and CIF. Those standouts were rewarded with their first All-CIF first-team distinctions after the CIF Southern Section office unveiled the first teams for the seven divisions on Tuesday afternoon. They were joined by Flintridge Prep junior Brenden McKiernan, who was a second-team selection.
Termini played a role in helping the Rebels win a share of the Prep League championship with Pasadena Poly and Webb. The Rebels won a league title for the first time since 1997. In the postseason, Flintridge Prep won its first playoff game since 1999 and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1960.
Termini, who was named to the Division V first team, set the stage for Flintridge Prep with his bat in the clean-up spot. The All-Prep League first-team pick hit .368 with two home runs, three doubles and 17 runs batted in. He posted a .605 slugging percentage.
“It’s an incredible honor and a great way to go out,” Termini said. “It took a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end.
“I worked with my coaches and they helped me out with my swing. The biggest thing was the success that the team had and getting to the semis. We were able to put it all together and go far.”
When Herrmann first heard he was named an All-CIF Southern Section Division IV first-teamer from his La Cañada High baseball Coach Alex Valadez, he was suspicious.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what he was saying to everybody, I didn’t know if I even believed it,” said Herrmann, who was first told at the La Cañada High “Honoring the Spartan” ceremony on June 2.
Seeing was believing for the Spartans’ offensive and emotional leader, shortstop and anchor on the mound when the teams were finally released Tuesday afternoon. It’s hard to say where the senior, who was also named the All-Rio Hondo League co-MVP, was most valuable.
The honors come on the heels of La Cañada’s drastic improvement from 2012 when it won its seventh Rio Hondo League title and first since 2005. The Spartans, who went 14-8, 8-4 in league, also won a first-round playoff game for the first time since 2010. The year before, they went 10-14, 2-10 in league.
“I was the team captain and I felt that it was most important to keep the guys together and on the right track and let them know we could achieve what we’d set our minds to,” Herrmann said, “that was more important than any individual award I could get.”
Herrmann bounced between the top three spots in the lineup all year, often filling in at leadoff. He batted a team-high .355 (22 for 62) with 14 runs batted in, 14 scored, six stolen bases and five doubles that led to a .435 slugging and .453 on-base percentages.
“I’ll be honest with you, defensively he’s always been solid, I think the biggest thing this year is he hit,” Valadez said of Herrmann’s improvement from one season to the next. “He just came out of the dark and hit very well this year. He put himself up where people had to recognize him.”
Defensively, Herrmann flashed his range and sure-handed play and provided a number of plays at shortstop that dazzled La Cañada High’s faithful this year.
Perhaps, he was most valuable on the bump, though. Herrmann was the team’s shutdown closer. He posted a 2-0 record with six saves after allowing just one run, including unearned, all season to log a 0.50 earned-run average. He also struck out 15 batters, walked four and allowed 10 hits in 11 appearances and 14 innings pitched to post a .196 (10 for 52) batting average against.
“I’ll be quite honest, we brought him up as a sophomore and I saw it then,” said Valadez, who was an assistant coach before taking over the varsity squad this year, of Herrmann’s potential. “I always knew he was going to be good. He made a few tweaks in the way he hit this year and his role changed a little bit.”
McKiernan, also an all-league first-team honoree, went 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA and struck out 13. He batted .370 and scored 11 runs while holding down the leadoff spot.
Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Guillermo Gonzalez said Termini and McKiernan each provided leadership for the Rebels during their breakout season.
“Karlsen brought the accountability aspect to the team,” Gonzalez said. “Without him, we would have been off-balance and we could call on him when we needed a big hit.
“Brenden matured a lot as a pitcher. He jumped right up to the No. 1 spot. Like Karlsen, his leadership was huge.”