Although this year’s votes were the closest they have ever been, five baseball stars have staked their claim as the best in the county, earning The Columbian-Progress’ coveted end-of-year awards.
In what proved to be the only runaway tally, West Marion senior infielder Tre’ Broom has been selected as the Marion General Hospital Most Valuable Player. Broom, who will play at Co-Lin Community College next year, was a transformative piece of West Marion’s lineup, leading the way with a .532 average, four homers, seven doubles, one triple, 26 RBI, 32 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and an absurd 1.545 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Not only were his OPS and .674 on-base percentage tops on the Trojans, they were the best in all of Marion County. He got on base in more than two-thirds of his plate appearances, thanks in large part to a sterling 16:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
The only other player to receive votes for MVP was Columbia’s Dylan Wallace.
Columbia Academy’s Hays Carley, a Jones College signee, emerged from a crowded field to be tabbed as the Buckley Transport Offensive Player of the Year. The second baseman, who also won Offensive Player of the Year last season, had a tremendous year as the catalyst to a scrappy CA lineup. The leadoff hitter batted .460 with four home runs, 10 doubles, 25 RBI, 33 runs scored, 17 stolen bases and a 1.265 OPS, somehow managing to still lead the Cougars in RBI despite often hitting without runners on.
East Marion’s JT Jones, Columbia’s Eli Lowery and Broom also received votes.
The Beal’s Collision Center Pitcher of the Year ended up being a two-horse race, but CA eighth-grader Logan Buckley materialized as the selection. The middle schooler, who began the season ranked as the No. 1 left-handed pitcher in the entire country in his class by Perfect Game, was arguably the best in the county with a 4-0 record in nine starts, 67 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings and a sparkling 1.56 ERA.
The only other pitcher to receive votes was Wallace.
Trojans two-way phenom Jude Stringer won the Columbia Credit Breakout Star of the Year by the second largest margin in the voting process. Jude Stringer was a star for West Marion both on the mound and at the plate, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings and batting .325 with four doubles, three triples, 16 RBI, 25 runs, 17 steals and an .882 OPS.
Others receiving votes were East Marion’s Kyler Collins and West Marion’s Trace McDonald.
Although Wallace fell just short in the MVP and Pitcher of the Year voting, he will not leave 2022 empty handed. The electric pitcher and leadoff hitter for the Wildcats was selected as The Deck Most Improved Player. Wallace was the epitome of a two-way star for the Wildcats, leading things off for Columbia with a .412 average, two homers, 11 doubles, two triples, 19 RBI, 29 runs scored, 12 steals and a 1.101 OPS. He was also exceptional on the mound with 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings and a 3.71 ERA.
Wallace experienced an incredible jump at the plate, increasing his average from .255 to .412 and upping his power numbers considerably with 15 extra-base hits after connecting for just three as a sophomore. His biggest jump on the mound came from his improved ability to miss bats, lowering his opponent batting average to .155 from .209 and fanning 35 more batters in just 14 more innings.
Collins and Lowery also received votes for the award.
Each of the five award winners will receive a custom plaque and will take a picture with their award’s sponsor at the C-P office.