Simply put, there was no baseball player more valuable to his team this high school season than Turlock’s Brett Cumberland – offensively and defensively.
The senior catcher not only had to be prepared to handle the Bulldogs’ deep and diverse pitching staff, but he also hit leadoff for Turlock, which claimed the Central California Conference title and advanced to the final three of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South playoffs before bowing to perennial foil St. Mary’s. He’ll be headed to Cal on a baseball scholarship this fall, where he’ll have the chance to catch Buhach Colony’s Daulton Jefferies – giving the Bears a battery made up of back-to-back Modesto Bee All-District Players of the Year.
On the diamond: Cumberland hit .410 with a .565 on-base percentage and 1.312 OPS. He tied for second in the state in runs scored with 48 while handling the Bulldogs’ bottomless pitching staff. Cumberland emerged as a sophomore, hitting .358, then hit .383 as a junior. He played in 86 games over three years, gathering 84 hits and scoring 83 runs. Turlock has posted a 51-10 record the last two seasons with Cumberland behind the plate.
Off the diamond: Cumberland was an honors student at Turlock and plans to get involved in the ROTC program at Cal. But he’s all about baseball right now and will play this summer with the Klamath Falls (Ore.) Gems in the collegiate West Coast League before he reports to Berkeley.
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What’s ahead: Cumberland went into his senior season already having shed the pressure of the college recruiting process. He made an early verbal commitment to Cal, signed his letter of intent in November and plans to compete in the fall for the Bears’ starting catcher position.
Quotable: “Brett’s been an important part of our program for four years. He’s a great student ... and his work ethic off the field is amazing. He lifts weights at 4:30 or 5 every morning, and he’s the last guy to leave practice every afternoon. He eats right, and he’s doing everything he can to be able to succeed at the next level.” – Turlock coach Mark de la Motte.
– Brian VanderBeek