High School Sports

Service’s Coen Niclai named Alaska’s Gatorade Player of the Year for baseball for second year in a row

According to Service High School baseball coach Willie Paul, there were several players on this year’s team that just capped off an undefeated season who were worthy of being named Alaska’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the sport.

“There are a lot of guys on this team that deserve that award,” he said Saturday. “You could never ask me to choose one, because I think they’re all very deserving. We’re excited for one of them to hopefully get that.”

The wait if any of the Cougars would be the recipient of this year’s honor came to an end Monday when it was announced that senior catcher Coen Niclai was named GPOY for the second straight season.

“Winning is just a byproduct of the hard work that my team and I have put in,” Niclai said in a statement. “I am fortunate to have an amazing trainer named Johnny Meszaros that pushes me to be great. Our team has worked hard all year in being the team that we strive to be and this year we accomplished that. Our hard work and dedication through the season has paid off.”

As the reigning award winner, all eyes were on him heading into his final season and he didn’t disappoint. The 6-foot-2 and 213-pound star had led the Cougars to a 22-0-1 record and a Division I state title. Niclai was also batting .455 with a 1.379 OPS through his first 20 games and gunned down five of 13 would-be base-stealers. He is ranked as the No. 248 prospect in the nation for the Class of 2024 by Perfect Game and earned an invite to the 2024 MLB Draft Scouting Combine.

“Coen dominates behind the plate and commands the defense,” West Anchorage High School head coach Chad Stolp said in a statement. “He’s also a force at the plate.”

A consummate student-athlete, Niclai maintained a 3.58 weighted GPA in the classroom, was a member of Service’s Ignite Peer Mentoring program and volunteered locally as a youth baseball umpire and coach.

After his breakout junior season, Niclai committed to play at the NCAA Division I level for the University of Oregon, where he will be playing baseball and majoring in either the medical or business fields.

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.