In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade announced Owen Washburn of Webster High School as its 2020-21 Gatorade Wisconsin Baseball Player of the Year. Washburn is the second Gatorade Wisconsin Baseball Player of the Year to be chosen from Webster High School, the other person was his older brother, Jack.
The award not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Washburn as Wisconsin’s best high school baseball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award to be announced in July, Washburn joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo High School, Mich.), Jon Lester (2001-02, Bellarmine Preparatory School, Wash.), David Price (2003-04, Blackman High School, Tenn.), Clayton Kershaw (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas), Rick Porcello (2006-2007, Seaton Hall Preparatory School, N.J.) and Kris Bryant (2009-10, Bonanza High School, Nev.).
The 6-foot, 195-pound senior right-handed pitcher and shortstop had led the Tigers to a 20-0 record and the Division 4 sectional final at the time of his selection. Washburn compiled a 7-0 record on the mound with a 0.00 ERA and 94 strikeouts against just two walks in 39 innings. The state’s No. 5 draft prospect as ranked by Prep Baseball Report, he struck out 66 percent of the total batters he faced through 20 games, while also posting a jaw-dropping .746 batting average with nine home runs, 71 RBI, 50 runs scored and an OPS of 2.313.
A member of the National Honor Society, Washburn has volunteered locally on behalf of an elementary school literacy- outreach program as well as Feed My Starving Children. He also participated in relief and clean-up efforts following a tornado.
“Owen Washburn is an offensive force and absolute monster on the hill,” said Curt Emerson, head baseball coach at nearby Shell Lake High School. “There is not a significant area of weakness within his play. In addition to his on-the-field accomplishments, he is humble, respectful and an all-around great young man. I’ll miss watching him play, but will not miss playing against him.”
Washburn has maintained a 3.59 GPA in the classroom and has signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at the University of South Carolina this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Washburn joins recent Gatorade Wisconsin Baseball Players of the Year Max Wagner (2019-20, Preble High School), Connor Prielipp (2018-19, Tomah High School) and as noted, Owens’ older brother, Jack Washburn (2017-18, Webster High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Washburn has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Washburn is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.