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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2014

Saunders receives SEISC Player of the Year award

Four Panthers make first team
By ALLYUS FRITZ/Ledger sports editor | Jul 25, 2014

The Southeastern Super Conference has named its players of the year for the 2014 baseball season.

Leading the way is Garrett Saunders, who was not only named to the SEISC-South Division first team, but was also named Conference Player of the Year. Saunders normally batted leadoff for the Van Buren Warriors (33-3), which had its season cut short before it could make a second straight Class 1A State Tournament. The junior outfielder and pitcher led the state with 52 stolen bases. Saunders finished the season batting .504 with eight home runs, 47 RBIs and 63 total hits, all of which were team highs.

Robert Barker and Braxton Bainbridge both made the first team squad as pitchers. Barker finished with an 8-0 record and a 1.67 ERA. Not only did he lead the Warriors in strikeouts, but he also allowed just 11 earned runs over 46 innings on the hill. Bainbridge finished with a 6-0 record and allowed just eight runs over 29 2/3 innings pitched.

Robby Laughlin, Tyson Sprouse and Brandon Plecker from Van Buren each made the south division first team as well. Noah Whitten, Austin Bartholomew, Will Mertens and Austin Fitzsimmons grabbed spots on the second team squad. Austin Fett and Tanner Smith were both conference honorable mentions.

The Cardinal Comets (10-17) had two individuals make the SEISC-South Division first team. The first was catcher Cody Streeby, who batted .385 as a junior for the Comets this season. Streeby scored 25 times and drove in 19 runs. First baseman Conner McElderry made the first team as well. McElderry led the Comets with a .385 average, four home runs, 25 RBIs and 31 hits in his senior campaign.

Chase Courtney and Brennon Elder both earned second team selections, while two other Comets, Taylor Blunt and Adam Giltner, were selected as conference honorable mentions.

The SEISC-North Division selections are packed with Pekin Panthers. Four Panthers made the first team, including seniors Kolby Allsup and Cade Millikin. Allsup, the starting shortstop and leadoff man for Pekin, batted .414 this season and led the team with 36 hits. He used his speed to his advantage, and hit nine extra base hits and stole nine bases. Millikin batted .405 and drove in 20 runs. He also had a productive season on the mound, finishing with a 1.13 ERA over 31 innings pitched.

The other two first teamers are sophomore Keaton Winn and junior Cole Reighard. Winn led the team in pitching with 53 1/3 innings on the hill and a 0.66 ERA. Opponents batted just .101 off of Winn, and he finished the year with a 73-29 strikeout to walk ratio. Reighard, a catcher and Winn’s battery mate, batted .319 and drove in 16 runs.

Senior Petie Clubb represents the Panthers on the North Division second team. Zach Sloan and Jaydan Nicholson both received honorable mention recognition.

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