Nine area baseball players have been named to All-State teams by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association.
After a trip to the Final Four, the Warsaw Wildcats have three players who have been honored.
“That’s a big privilege and an honor,” said Wildcats coach John Eierman. “It’s kind of just indicated the hard work that these kids have put into it. It’s nice to be recognized.”
Shortstop Jeremy Eierman was named First-Team All-State in Class 3. He hit .534 with eight home runs and 33 RBI. He had already taken home the Gatorade Player of the Year honor and was All-State in 2013 and 2014.
“Part of it was just being patient,” John Eierman said. “He had some intentional walks and he would get pitched around. That was the big team aspect was game-planning for that. We hit Jeremy in the two-hole. Our leadoff hitter (Alex Letcher) didn’t make All-State, but he was a phenomenal hitter who hit .400. We made it tough. If they chose to pitch to Jeremy, he hit over .500. If they chose to walk Jeremy, they had to pitch to Bailey Jelinek.”
Pitcher Joey Cooner was named Second-Team All-State as was Bailey Jelinek, who was honored as a DH and utility player.
Cooner went 7-2 with a 1.26 ERA, striking out 103 while walking 16 in 66 2-3 innings pitched. He was also an All-State selection in 2014.
The future Crowder pitcher who has been getting attention from Division I teams went into the Final Four with a 0.80 ERA. After pitching in the semifinal, he asked to go back onto the mound late in the third-place game the next day.
“That is who he is,” John Eierman said. “He wants the ball. He takes care of his body and his arm. … He works hard so he knows his body is ready to perform every day.”
At the plate, Cooner hit .301 with 27 RBI. Jelinek hit .400, driving in 24 runs, following in the footsteps of his brother, Brad Jelinek, an All-State player with the Wildcats in 2013.
The top four hitters in the Warsaw lineup will all play college ball and John Eierman feels they set a good example to the younger players on the roster.
“We would make sure as a coaching staff to point it out to them that this is how you do it,” he said. “There’s a reason this team had the success that it had and it’s all about doing it the right way.”
In Class 2, Tipton shortstop Luke Mercer was named First-Team All-State. Cardinals coach Eric McNeal called Mercer “an offensive powerhouse” following his season of hitting .500 with a slugging percentage over 1.000.
In the field, McNeal said Mercer’s range and arm were a difference maker for the Kaysinger Conference champion Cardinals.
“You’ve got a lot of kids that hit a slow roller and think they’ve got a good shot at beating it out and he would throw them out,” McNeal said.
Cardinals pitcher Grant Huhmann received an honorable mention. Huhmann had an ERA under 1.00 with 113 strikeouts and an 8-2 record. Huhmann also hit cleanup for the Cardinals and played third base. His on-base-percentage was over .500 this season.
“He could put the team on his back and we asked him to do that,” McNeal said.
In Class 1, a pair of Northwest Mustangs were honored following a trip to the state semifinal. Catcher Ryan Rafferty was named Second-Team All-State and Trey Green was an honorable mention as a DH and utility player.
The team which pushed Northwest to nine innings in the district final, Green Ridge, also had a pair of players named All-State.
Pitcher and infielder Zac Callahan was named Second-Team All-State. Callahan hit over .500 with six home runs, including a two-run homer in the district championship game against Northwest to tie the game in the sixth inning.
“Since it was my last season with Green Ridge, everyone thought ‘this is our time, we have a special team and we can do something special,’” Callahan said.
He is joined on the All-State squad by teammate Connor Dillon, an honorable mention as a catcher.
“Connor was the guy that everybody respected,” said coach Jason Ollison. “He was the best guy on the team his whole life. Smart kid, understands the game. He did a lot of things for us that you couldn’t teach. He’s been around it his whole life and he understood what to do without having to be taught.”
Green Ridge was also well represented on the Academic All-State team. Taylor Hoos, Cole Dove and Caleb Brown were named Academic All-State and as a team, the Tigers were fifth in the state in Class 1 with a 3.37 GPA.
“Those seniors are smart kids, they’re academic kids,” Ollison said. “They understand not all of them are going to play ball beyond high school. All the seniors that are leaving us, I think all of them are going to college. It’s a testament to their parents and the community.”
Cole Camp was ninth in the state in Class 3 with a 3.0325 GPA. The Bluebirds’ Zachary Fox was named Academic All-State as was Warsaw’s Cade Chiles.