Three catchers from Eastern Jackson County and four members of the Class 5 Blue Springs South baseball team that finished third in the state highlight the 2018 Missouri Baseball Coaches Association All-State team.
The three Class 5 first-team catchers are South senior Allante Hall (.371, 19 RBIs, 29 runs scored), Blue Springs senior Caleb Marquez (.379, 6 home runs, 22 RBIs, 41 runs scored) and Fort Osage senior Spencer Patrick (.453, 2 home runs, 27 RBIs).
Blue Springs South teammates joining Hall on the Class 5 all-state team are senior pitcher Brandt Lightner (7-1-1, 42 strikeouts, 2.07 ERA), junior shortstop John Herrman (.422, 12 doubles, 25 RBIs) and senior utility player Will Heller (.365, 19 RBIs; 6-1, 2.20 ERA) – all second-team selections.
Fort Osage senior Bryce Dye (.550, 38-for-76, 8 home runs, 39 RBIs) was a first-team infielder and senior Zane Barr (.440, 5 home runs, 38 RBIs) was a second-team outfielder.
Blue Springs also had two other selections with senior first baseman Jake Lufft (.486, 12 home runs, 45 RBIs), the reigning Examiner Player of the Year, being named a first-team infielder and senior Peyton Smith (8-2, 1.99 ERA) is an honorable mention selection at pitcher.
Oak Grove senior Jackson Blansit (.478, 4 home runs, 25 RBIs) was an honorable mention DH/utility selection on the Class 4 team.
“When I was driving back from the coaches meeting the first kid I called was Spencer,” Fort Osage coach Chris Walker said. “I told him I was so proud of him and Bryce for making first team. He got so darned excited that it even got me more excited than I was when I called him.
“We had not had a first-team all-state player since Albert Pujols back in 1996. And Zane had first-team numbers, but the outfield was stacked this year. I couldn’t be prouder of my three guys.
“There some great catchers in the area and in the state and I was really thrilled that Ben Baier from South and Tim McElligott over at Blue Springs voted for Spencer when they had all-state catchers, too. That made me feel good.”
Baier was hoping that his four all-staters made the grade, but he knew the talent pool was deep in Missouri this season.
“We don’t talk about stats during the season, we just talk about team ball, and these four guys – all of my guys – were team-first players," said Baier, whose team finished third in the state with a 23-9 record. "To me, stats can’t tell you everything about a player. Stats are like a bikini, they show you a little bit, but not everything. We don’t get to state without those four guys, but they will be the first to tell you that it was a team effort.
“There was so much talent in the state this year. Look at catcher – Allante, Caleb and Spencer Patrick – they can play, and they play the game the right way. They each deserved to be first-team all-state players.”
Like Walker and Baier, McElligott was thrilled with his team’s all-state selections.
“If you’re all-state this year, you’re a player – especially the first-team guys,” McElligott said. “Lufft was first-team all-state last year and he had even better numbers this year. His goal was to be back-to-back all-state and he accomplished it.
“Caleb, well, he got drafted by Milwaukee, and that tells you what kind of player he is. There were games he was just a man among the boys out there.
“And Peyton was an outfielder the last two years and he worked hard to become the ace of our staff. He had an amazing year – all three of those guys did.”
Marquez, who is in the Brewers rookie league in Glendale, Arizona, was thrilled with the honor.
“I was first-team all state in football and then first-team all state in baseball and that was very special for me,” Marquez said by phone from Arizona. “I didn’t know if I could do it, because there were a lot of great catchers in the area.”