The McLean County High School baseball team celebrated the 2022 season with a banquet at the high school on July 18. The players and coaching staff enjoyed a meal with their families before reflecting on the season with several awards presented.
The following players received their first varsity letter for the team: Hayden Hudson, Zane Decker, Landon French, Layden Bozarth, Corbin Martin and Jaelin Groves.
Returning players who received a subsequent varsity letter were: Tyler Larkin, Cruz Lee, Kamden Level, Will Logsdon, Connor Mitchuson, Ayden Rice, Jax Lee, Whit Searcy, Taylor Trogden, Mason Lovell and HB Whitaker.
Awards were given in the following categories:
Batting average — HB Whitaker (.370)
Hits — Tyler Larkin (30)
Runs — Tyler Larkin (23), Connor Mitchuson (23), Will Logsdon (23)
RBIs — HB Whitaker (28)
Doubles — Cruz Lee (9)
Triples — Tyler Larkin (3)
Home runs — Will Logsdon (1) and Tyler Larkin (1)
OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage) — Will Logsdon (.971)
Stolen bases — Cruz Lee (19)
Innings pitched — Ayden Rice (37.2)
ERA — Jax Lee (3.44)
Strikeouts (pitching) — Ayden Rice (35)
Wins — Ayden Rice (4)
Rookie of the Year — Hayden Hudson, Jax Lee and Mason Lovell
Relief Pitcher of the Year — Taylor Trogden
Iron Horse Award — Kamden Level
Gold Glove Award — Tyler Larkin
Cy Young Award (top pitcher) — Ayden Rice
Silver Slugger Award (top hitter) — Will Logsdon and Tyler Larkin.
Connor Mitchuson received the Most Improved Player/Jose Oquendo Award for his versatility. Mitchuson played all nine positions this season.
Tyler Larkin was awarded the Team MVP based on player votes. Larkin was the only four-year starter on the team and would have been five years if the 2020 season had not been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Larkin led the team in four hitting categories (hits, runs, triples, home runs), finished top four in nearly every other category and was the Gold Glove Award winner for his play in center field for the second straight year.
“Tyler was an outstanding leader for the team and truly left his mark on this program,” Head Coach Heath Hicks said. “All of the success that he has had throughout his time here, including this Team MVP award, could not be more well-deserved.”
The junior varsity team gave the following awards:
Cy Young Award — Corbin Martin (8th)
MVP Award — Layden Bozarth (8th)
The freshman team awards were as follows:
Cy Young Award — Jordan Bailey (7th)
MVP Award — Jaelin Groves (8th).
Hicks said his seniors — Tyler Larkin, Kamden Level, Will Logsdon and Taylor Trogden — led by example and never allowed the team to lose focus.
“These guys did it the right way,” Hicks said. “I am extremely proud of each of them and can’t wait to see where the future takes them.”
As far as the returning players, Hicks said the foundation has been laid at all levels for this program to take off. “These guys are now experienced,” he said. “This program now has depth and I truly believe the future for baseball is bright here.”
This was Hicks’ last season with McLean County baseball, at least for the foreseeable future. He said he could not have asked for a better group of young men to spend it with.
“These guys worked their tails off, played hard, rarely complained, truly became a family, and I am proud to have been their coach,” he said. “While we didn’t get to where we wanted to at the end of the season, we improved tremendously from last year and were a much better ball team than our record indicated. McLean County baseball is on the rise.”
Hicks has a long history with the baseball program. He played six years on the team with five of those at the varsity level. As a player, Hicks made the All-District team twice and helped to secure three district championships. He was named an East/West All-Star by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association in 2005 and holds the school record for most singles in a season with 29 set in 2006. He was also selected as a member of the McLean County High School 50th Anniversary Baseball Team this year.
Hicks was an assistant coach for five years with Marc Searcy before accepting the head coach position in 2015. He has coached three players who were selected as East/West All-Stars and has 11 players who received scholarship offers. He also served on the Johnny Bench Award Committee to help select the best catcher in the state.
“He helped me find and keep my love for baseball and did everything and more that you would expect from a coach,” Senior Kamden Level said. “He treated us just like his own kids.”
“He was a great coach, but an even better role model,” Senior Tyler Larkin said. “I learned a lot more than just baseball from him.”
Senior Will Logsdon also shared his gratitude for how much Coach Hicks has done for the program as well as personal development for his players.
“It’s sad to see him leave, but God has a plan for everyone,” Logsdon said. “Wherever he ends up, he will do great things there as well.”
After serving seven years as head coach and a total of 18 years with the team, Hicks resigned at the end of this season. He has been a part of the baseball family for longer than any other individual in program history and will be greatly missed by players, coaches and the entire baseball community.
“I have been a part of this baseball program as a player and a coach for over half of my life and it is going to be strange not being in that dugout next spring,” Hicks said. “I will always cherish my time here, and I will never stop following, supporting and loving McLean County baseball.”