by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Hazen Union seniors Tyler Rivard and Lyle Rooney capped off their stellar high school careers on the baseball diamond last week with the highest of honors in the star-studded Capital League.
Rivard and Rooney led First Team selections in the Capital, with Rivard earning Player of the Year (POY) honors last week. With Rivard also capturing POY honors on the hardwood for the Wildcats this past winter and also earning All-State honors on the pitch last fall as one of the best goalkeepers in the state, it cements him as the best three-sport athlete to come out of Hazen Union in school history.
The senior shortstop and pitcher batted over .600 this season with a Barry Bonds-like slugging percentage of 1.042. He tormented opposing pitchers for a second straight season with 29 hits in 48 at bats, including a pair of homers, five triples, and five doubles. He drove in 14 runs, scored 32 times, stole 19 bases, and drew 14 walks, while striking out just twice all season.
Rooney was equally as impressive on the mound for the Wildcats for a second straight season and emerged as an offensive force at the plate in his senior campaign. The hard-throwing righty was 8-1 on the season with a save, striking out 69 batters in 51 and a third innings, while posting a 1.64 earned run average. He’ll go down as one of the best to ever toe the rubber for Hazen, finishing his career with a school record three no-hitters and 232 career strikeouts. Rooney also batted over .400 for the Wildcats this spring, driving in 17 runs and swiping 18 bases.
The dynamic senior duo helped lead Hazen Union to back-to-back No. 1 seeds the past two years, including their first trip to the division III title game at Centennial Field in 15 years in 2022. Both players received invitations to the Vermont Twin-State roster.
Joining Rivard and Rooney as First Team selections were Division I Spaulding’s Trevor Arsenault, Danny Kiniry, Averill Parker, Zack Wilson, and Cole McAllister, North Country’s Joe LeBlanc, Division II Lyndon Institute’s Austin Wheeler and Ethan Lussier, U-32’s Shane Starr, and Andrew Tringe of Montpelier. Hazen Union ’s senior backstop James Montgomery led Second Team selections after his best season in a Wildcat uniform and was joined by: Spaulding’s Cam Burke and Dylan Bachand, Lyndon Institute’s Cam Berry and Wyatt Mason, U-32’s Sawyer Mislak and Alex Keane, Randolph’s Colton Fordham, Xander Oshoniyi of Thetford Academy, Kaden Jones of North Country, and Montpelier’s Keagan Smith. Senior Wildcat centerfielder Jadon Baker earned Honorable Mention honors.
“Playing in the Capital League against great teams from the higher divisions the past two years made our players better and made our team better. They always looked forward to the challenge and what these seniors were able to accomplish at Hazen against that level of competition is truly amazing. They re-energized this community’s interest in baseball and laid the blueprint for younger players coming up of the dedication it takes to rebuild a program,” said Hazen head coach Spencer Howard.
The Capital League was once again one of the most competitive leagues in the state with Hazen Union, Thetford Academy, Spaulding, U-32, and Lyndon Institute posting a combined 69-20 record. Only the Panthers were able to navigate their way through the state tournament, capturing the Division III state championship over the weekend.