Ryan Budnik’s first year as Hillsboro’s head baseball coach resulted in an 8–14 overall record and a 6–8 finish in the Scenic Bluffs Conference.
Budnik’s Tigers battled injuries and defensive inconsistency throughout the season, but won their final two conference games to tie for fourth place in the SBC with Royall (9–15, 6–8).
Five of Budnik’s Tigers received postseason honors by a vote of the league’s coaches at the season’s end.
Hillsboro senior catcher Matt Stekel and junior pitcher/outfielder Tommy Crandall were among the 16 players named first-team All-SBC.
Junior first baseman Hunter Stanek and junior infielder/pitcher Joey Helgerson were among the 16 players to receive honorable mention.
Senior outfielder Sawyer Hynek was named to the eight-player all-sportsmanship team.
Stekel was the Tigers’ lone senior and started every game behind the plate. He finished second on the team with a .364 batting average with 20 hits in 65 at-bats, with four doubles, 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
Crandall, who was a first-team All-SBC selection as a sophomore, led Hillsboro both at the plate and on the mound. As the team’s ace he went 5–4 with a 1.75 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 17 walks and 56 innings pitched in 13 games. At the plate, Crandall led the Tigers in batting average (.569), hits (29), doubles (11), triples (3), home runs (1), runs scored (23), on-base percentage (.651) and slugging (.961). He also has 12 walks, 10 RBIs and five stolen bases.
Stanek started at first base and finished the year batting .306 (15-for-63) with four doubles, 11 RBIs, 14 walks and eight runs scored in 22 games.
Helgerson was the Tigers’ starting shortstop and was pressed into duty as the team’s number two pitcher most of the year due to junior Tyler Crandall’s thumb injury that cost him six weeks of the season.
Helgerson went 0–4 on the mound with a 3.85 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 17 walks in 23 2/3 innings pitched. He batted .208 (10-for-48) with three doubles, three RBIs, five walks and four runs scored.
Hynek started in left field and batted 244 (11-for-45) with three doubles, one triple, four RBIs and five runs scored.
The Tigers finished the year 8–14 overall and 8–6 (fifth place) in the SBC.
“We had our ups and downs but I am pleased with the way things came together,” said Budnik. “This is a talented group of kids and they are all, with the exception of Matt coming back next year. My hope is that they learn from this year’s experience and believe that they can be every bit as successful on the diamond as they are on the court.”
Brookwood junior catcher Cory Ottom was named the league’s Player of the Year. He led the Falcons to a 12–9 overall record and a 8–6 third-place finish in league play.
Bangor junior Canon O’Heron was named the SBC Pitcher of the Year for a second straight year. He led the Cardinals to 16–6 overall record and the outright SBC title with a 12–2 mark in conference play.