He usually sports the biggest smile and the dirtiest uniform following a Blue Springs South High School baseball game.
Colton Pogue has been the heart and soul of the Jaguars since he became their starting shortstop as a sophomore, and he capped his stellar career by being named The Examiner’s 2014 High School Baseball Player of the Year.
“It’s the icing on the cake,” said Pogue, who led the 24-12 Jaguars to their first state appearance (a third-place finish in O’Fallon) his senior year.
He finished the 2014 campaign with a .441 average, 43 runs scored, 35 RBIs, 15 doubles, seven homers, one triple, a .784 slugging percentage and 17 stolen bases.
If the Jaguars needed a big play, he usually delivered at the plate or in the field.
“Now that the season is over, it’s kind of fun to reflect on all we accomplished and all the success we had,” Pogue said. “Being the first team from South to go to state was really special. We all wanted to win it, but at least we won our last game as Jaguars and finished third. That made for a good bus ride back to Blue Springs.”
Pogue started his final year at South in dramatic fashion, moving from his familiar linebacker position to quarterback when Chris Swingle was injured early in the football season.
In typical Pogue fashion, he did a solid job at quarterback and was more than happy to return to the defensive side of the ball when Swingle returned late in the season.
“He’s just such a team guy, a leader,” South baseball coach Ben Baier said. “Football or baseball, he’s all about his team.”
And when asked about winning the player of the year honor, Pogue is quick to mention his teammates.
“The best thing about winning this award is that I get to talk about my team and my coaches,” said Pogue, who is playing summer ball in Chicago with Jaguar teammate Austin Simms. “Coach Baier and our coaches put us in the best position to win every game we played this year. We had a tough schedule and lost some games we could have won about midway through the season. But those tough games got us ready for postseason, and they were a big reason we made it to state.
“I wouldn’t even be considered for this award if it weren’t for my teammates. Our pitchers were great, we got a lot of timely hitting and we peaked at the right time of the year. It was pretty much a dream senior season. If we would have won state, it would have been THE dream season.”
While he appreciates the team aspect of baseball, Pogue savors the singular battle that takes place between a pitcher and a hitter.
“I think that’s what I love most about the game, the one-on-one challenge between a pitcher and a batter,” Pogue said. “There’s nothing more satisfying than that perfect at-bat – when you get that hit where you don’t even feel the ball coming off the bat.
“What sport can you be considered a success where you fail seven out of 10 times? That just shows how tough it is to have success in baseball. And that’s why I love it so much.”
Now, he’s playing for the Cream, an elite Chicago-based team that he believes will get him ready for the Division I challenge he faces at Western Illinois.
“I’m having a great time in Chicago,” he said. “Austin is here and we play mostly on weekends, so we’re getting to see some of the sights and we're getting used to being on our own, kind of like college.
“I’m going to miss South, but I’m ready for the next challenge. I can’t wait to go to Western Illinois and see what D-I baseball is like. I’m going to have to take my game to the next level – and I’m ready. Oh, am I ready.”