Editor’s note: Extracurricular activities, including athletics, for Jefferson County public schools have been postponed until at least April 23. The Leader will present spring sports previews on the presumption that the seasons will be held this spring, with a different team in the county featured at 2 p.m. each day. For updated information, continue to check myleaderpaper.com.
Hillsboro won its first district baseball championship since 2016, when Kevin Lucas was hired as head coach, when the Hawks beat Seckman in the Class 5 District 1 final last season.
Lucas said he understands that he lost his top three pitchers – Michael Brewer, Christian Hancock and Ethan Eckrich – to graduation, but he’s got a solid core of seniors to help win another district title.
Hillsboro lost to Vianney in the sectional round and finished the season 14-7. The Hawks won the Jefferson County Activities Association large-schools division crown by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker against Festus.
“This group has the experience and knows what it takes to get back to where we were last year,” Lucas said.
Seniors Logan Warren (pitcher, first base), Isack Hamilton (catcher, pitcher), Mark Moore (centerfield), Garrett Pinkley (second base), Grant Beck (shortstop), Dayton Hoelter (third base, pitcher), Nolan Evans (designated hitter) and Brendan McLaughlin (pitcher) are the seasoned group Lucas is relying on.
Lucas said the Hawks don’t have a true ace, but Warren, Hamilton and Hoelter made significant contributions on the mound late in the season. Hoelter was the winning pitcher against the Jaguars in the district final.
Juniors Noah Shuman, Gabe King, Micah Cook and Eli Epley and sophomores Zach Schneider and Kyle Cozort give Hillsboro depth on the mound. All of them will fill roles on defense as well.
“There are some pretty good arms in this group and I’m excited to see what they can do for us,” Lucas said.
None of the returning Hawks hit .300 or better last year, although Pinkley was close at .291. Warren was third on the team with 18 runs scored.
“I feel we could have a good mix of team speed, along with some high on-base percentage type of guys,” Lucas said. “I’m not really a home run type of coach. I would rather them drive balls in the gaps or even lay down some bunts to move guys over.”
The Missouri State High School Activities Association has said it will work with local school districts and county health authorities to determine whether the season will start, and when.