Although Alex Robles might not have the same star status as Sahuaro junior Alex Verdugo, he was just as good and had even more of an impact on his team.

Tucson High was the strongest baseball team in Southern Arizona this year and Robles had the main role, batting .505 and bringing in 29 runs on 13 extra-base hits with only five strikeouts. On the defensive end, he went 9-2 with nine complete games and held a 1.36 ERA in 67 innings pitched, striking out 71 batters.

Robles, who will play shortstop at Austin Peay next year, saved his best for the state tournament when he came extremely close to leading the Badgers to their first state title appearance since 2002. In five playoff games, he batted .667 and was the spark plug for Tucson’s offense.

He pitched a gem in his start against Scottsdale Desert Mountain, the eventual Division I state champion, and was four outs away from improving to 10-0 when a crucial error cost the Badgers the lead and the game. His second loss came two days later in a relief appearance against Scottsdale Chaparral.

“He’s one of the greatest players I have ever coached in my 31 years,” Tucson coach Oscar Romero said. “He imposed his will on his teammates for them to play at a high level and never took a day off.”

This was a tough decision because of the year Verdugo had, going 10-0 and striking out 130 batters in 65 innings on his way to being named the AZBCA Division II player of the year.

We also considered Desert Christian sophomore Zach Malis, the AZBCA Division IV player of the year, who batted .515 and stuck out zero times in 123 plate appearances as the Eagles won their first state title.

Both Verdugo and Malis have very bright futures ahead of them but Robles is our pick this year.