The McLean County High School baseball team finished the 2023 season tied for the most regular season wins in the 3rd Region with 19 and 22nd in the State in ERA at 2.35.

The Cougars also did well on the mound this season. Hayden Hudson finished tied for 38th in the State in pitching wins with six and Jax Lee tied for 40th in saves with two.

The Lee brothers made a sweep of awards for the 10th District Tournament for 2023. Cruz Lee was named to the All-Academic Team and Jax Lee was named to the All-Tournament Team.

McLean County went 1-1 against Muhlenberg County in the regular season before meeting in the first round of the 10th District Tournament in Greenville on May 15. The Mustangs scored one with a homer off the first pitch in the bottom of the first and plated another run to end the inning up 2-0 over the Cougars. Those would be the only runs scored of the entire game as each team held the other off the plate through the next six frames with the Muhlenberg County taking the win.

Jax Lee took the loss on the mound for McLean County. The southpaw lasted six innings, allowing three hits and two runs while striking out two.

The pitching was strong on both sides and each team had three hits in the game. HB Whitaker, Corbin Martin and Ayden Rice each collected one hit for McLean.

Whitaker also had the most chances in the field with six. The first baseman had all putouts and no errors. The Cougar defense was especially strong in the bottom of the sixth. Jaelin Groves caught a high ball in right field for the first out. Second baseman Ayden Rice went down on one knee to catch a hard line drive and immediately popped up making the throw to first for the second out. Layden Bozarth scooped up a burner at short stop and shot it to first. Whitaker stretched out to snag the ball off a bounce for the final out.

“We ran into an excellent pitcher last Monday night and you have to tip your hat to him,” said head coach Darren Lynam. “He threw well. We did hang in there and gave ourselves a chance at the end with the tying runs on second and third with one out. HB Whitaker had a key steal of third base at the end with Corbin Martin stealing second to get both runners into scoring position. But, we couldn’t produce a hit to tie it.”

Lynam shared that it has been a fun season watching the players develop and get better as the year progressed.

“I told them all along with our young but talented team that this group will be good at some point and it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,’ ” he said. “Once we started making less mistakes on defense, both mentally and physically and our bats started to heat up we went 13-6 the last month of the season.”

Cruz Lee did an excellent job of being the only senior or junior and helping to lead such a young club to a successful year, according to Lynam.

“I am glad we are sending him out a winner,” he said. “I owe him a lot on the basketball floor and now the baseball diamond.”

The future is definitely bright for McLean County Baseball with the return of six sophomores, three freshmen and a seventh-grader who saw plenty of varsity action this year, as well as several talented eighth-graders who could possibly push for some varsity time next season.

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