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Athletes of the Week: South’s DI-bound baseball stars Herbert and Brown

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 7:40 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It is not typical to see two Alaskan baseball players from the same school and class head to the Lower 48 to play NCAA Division I baseball, but two South Anchorage standouts are not typical ballplayers.

“They are two guys that we kind of identified really early like, these guys are here, they want to get better, they want to get to that next level and now you see it coming to fruition,” South Baseball head coach Taylor Nerland said.

Utility player Curtis Hebert and Oliver Brown who primarily pitches, will take their talents in separate directions this fall, but still have a few more weeks together to make history.

“Curtis over there, he’s been like my best friend since I was a kid,” Brown said.

“We’ve been boys since day one,” Herbert added.

The duo have accomplished quite a bit since their days in Little League, including a 2021 State Championship and breaking Alaska high school baseball’s all-time win streak at 28 games and counting this year.

“It’s what you do outside of the games, especially the offseason,” Brown said of their success. “If you aren’t putting in time in the weight room, on the field or anything, that is really what will separate you from the rest I think,” Brown said.

Typically, baseball scouts look for players that show speed, a strong arm, fielding proficiency, and the ability to hit for both power and average — commonly referred to as a five-tool player — but these two may have ran out of room in the toolbox.

“Unique,” Brown said to describe Herbert. “He has a little bit of everything, he is a utility player, he can do everything, he can swing it, pitch it, play behind the plate, infield, outfield, he can literally do anything, so he is a very unique player.”

“Oliver is very smooth,” Nerland said of Brown. “...He is very humble, comes to work, he is a guy that grinds every day, always wants that one more swing in the cage, hey I can do better, I want one more, one more coach.”

With such success, Brown and Herbert have proven that baseball players can shine in the state where the sun doesn’t for much of the year, making the high school and American Legion baseball seasons fast and furious over the course of just four months.

Herbert said that he hopes his success can inspire younger Alaskan ballplayers.

“If I can inspire youngers guys to work and try to play baseball for as long as they can, that’s awesome,” Herbert said. “...I think Alaska baseball is on the come up, there is a lot of young talent that is coming up so it is really exciting to see.”

Herbert is heading to the University of Portland, while Brown is off to Holy Cross University in Massachusetts to continue their baseball careers and education. Yes, baseball will come to an end one day for these young men, but Nerland thinks they’re going to be alright when it does.

“I couldn’t ask for better kids, you know I’ve got four sons of my own and I hope my boys end up growing up like them,” Nerland said. “Just that competitive fire and just that desire to good in the classroom and on field there.”

Herbert, Brown and the South Anchorage Wolverines are currently riding a 31-game win streak as the Cook Inlet Conference approaches May 23.

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