Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum (10) poses for a portrait as The Herald’s Baseball Player of the Year at Glacier Peak High School on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum (10) poses for a portrait as The Herald’s Baseball Player of the Year at Glacier Peak High School on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

2024 Baseball Player of the Year: Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum

The smoke-throwing senior left-handed pitcher struck out more than two batters per inning.

One of the least fun places to be for area high school baseball players this season was in a batter’s box with Glacier Peak High School pitcher Karsten Sweum unleashing his fastball.

Most of the time, that at bat ended with a strikeout. Sweum’s dominance on the mound, coupled with a strong season as a hitter, led to the Gonzaga University-bound star being named The Herald’s Baseball Player of the Year.

“The first game of the year he went five innings and struck out 12 guys out of the 15 possible outs,” Glacier Peak coach Bob Blair said. “He was just mowing guys down. And that’s the way it was — he was in double-digit strikeouts almost every time he went out there.”

Sweum attacked batters with a four-seam fastball that reached 95 miles per hour and was consistently in the low 90s. For the batters who might have a chance to catch up with that, the left-hander offered a two-seam fastball, a devastating slider and the occasional curveball. That arsenal led to 76 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings — meaning an average of 2.13 out of three outs per inning came via the “K.” He finished the season 4-2 with a 0.79 ERA. Rival hitters managed to flail their way to a .085 batting average against the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder.

“There were some really big moments, and some rocky moments in between,” said Sweum, who is the cousin of former major leaguer and Jackson High School star Travis Snider. “I learned a lot more from the starts when I struggled than the starts where everything felt right. I was very blessed to have a great coaching staff and the support of my teammates.”

Sweum showed promise right at away at Glacier Peak. As a freshman he started two games on the junior varsity team.

Both outings resulted in no-hitters.

JV coach Cory Wendlandt approached Blair after the second game and made it clear that junior varsity batters had no business facing Sweum.

“He struck out like everybody, and the JV coach came to me and said, ‘This isn’t even fair,’” Blair said. “After that second game, he never pitched in JV again.”

Sweum did continue to play some junior varsity games as a batter, and those at bats paid dividends later on at the varsity level. This year, Sweum batted .388 and got on base 48% of the time. He smacked six doubles, a triple and two homers while driving in 15 runs. He struck out only once in 49 at bats.

Sweum plans to spend the summer playing for the Wenatchee Apple Sox, a team that features mostly college players. Then he plans to continue east to pitch for Gonzaga, but the prospect of the Major League Baseball draft also looms.

For fellow Grizzlies, his contributions reached beyond the numbers. Glacier Peak featured a young team this season, and counted on Sweum for leadership and encouragement.

“He’s a leader,” sophomore pitcher John Grose said. “Everybody looks up to him and follows suit.

“He’s one of the guys that took me under his wing and showed me what to do.”

Though Glacier Peak fell one victory short of the goal of going to the Class 4A state playoffs, Sweum enjoyed dominance on the mound while helping a young team have a strong season.

“We really matured as a team together, and got really close,” Sweum said. “We ended up having four playoff games. To go on a run with these guys and see them step into some big roles was pretty cool.”

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