BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams baseball team dominated the South Seven Conference this season.
That domination continued with the postseason awards.
Landon Thomas and Brock Fulkerson were named the South Seven Conference Players of the Year this season.
“Brock has had an unbelievable year on the mound and as far as overall player both offensively, defensively, also on the mound Landon Thomas has to be right there at the top,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “I'm very excited for those two. They're very deserving.”
Collin Young, Colten Meador, Matthew Williams, Jake Pike and Hayden Poninski all joined Thomas and Fulkerson on the first team.
Tyler Ellis was named to the second team. Trevor Flota and Thomas Weber were named honorable mention for the Rams.
Players of the Year
In the postseason, Fulkerson helped the Rams with complete game wins against Herrin, Effingham and Triad.
The junior led the Rams with 11 wins and had an earned run average of less than two this season.
“I couldn't do it without my defense, being a ground ball pitcher,” Fulkerson said. “And great coaching. They know a lot about it. They call the pitches. You have to give credit to everyone else first.”
Fulkerson, who is one of the few players on the team who won't graduate, said his focus in the offseason will be getting stronger.
“The next step is definitely getting bigger, getting stronger,” Fulkerson said. “As a pitcher, you have to work your legs so you can have endurance to go through the season.”
Landon Thomas batted near the top of the lineup all season long for the Rams. He blended speed and power and gave Mt. Vernon another left-handed hitter.
“It's truly an honor to be recognized for this,” Thomas said.
The senior contributed to the team in several different areas. He was among the team leaders in batting and runs batted in. Thomas also finished third on the team in wins with five.
“I just wanted to do my part,” Thomas said. “Whatever coach asked me to do, I would be more than happy to step up for him,” Thomas said. “I just love the game so much that you just want to be part of every facet of it.”
Thomas added that he enjoyed his increased pitching role this season.
“It turned out a lot better than I expected, honestly,” Thomas said. “Defense and offense is just a normal part of the game, but definitely I enjoyed pitching a lot more this year.”
Collin Young started at catcher for Mt. Vernon and was a key offensive and defensive cog for the Rams.
“Not many balls get past Collin, he has an accurate, strong arm, and he is a good defensive captain for us,” Holloway said. “He makes good decisions, and he is very deserving in that catcher position.”
Colten Meador was another middle of the order hitter for the Rams and played first base.
“Colten turned into a fine first baseman as well as providing some offensive firepower for us,” Holloway said.
Matthew Williams played the critical defensive position of shortstop and gave the Rams a solid bat in the lower part of the order.
“Matt Williams has had an unbelievable two years at shortstop,” Holloway said. “He makes every routine but also makes some very difficult plays.”
Jake Pike led off for the Rams and played right field. He helped jumpstart the Rams offense with his speed and power from the left side.
“Jake has very good athleticism,” Holloway said. “He's very competitive.”
Hayden Poninski spent most of his season as the team's designated hitter. He also filled in at second base for Trevor Flota.
“He can play anywhere,” Holloway said. “He played some second base. He's capable of playing short, played the outfield for us and had some clutch at-bats throughout the season.”
Tyler Ellis added strength at the top of the Rams rotation with Fulkerson. Ellis along with Fulkerson pitcher every single inning of the Rams seven postseason games. Ellis was a winner against Centralia and pitched the Rams into the state final with a win over Bloomington.
“Tyler Ellis just got better and better as the season went along,” Holloway said. “He throws the ball with good velocity and movement.”
Trevor Flota and Thomas Weber were named honorable mention as pitchers.
“With the schedule we play, it's tough to survive those non-conference games unless you have guys who can throw strikes and compete,” Holloway said. “Trevor Flota and Thomas Weber had great numbers for our team.”
Flota helped the Rams with several solid outings in doubleheaders.
Weber saw a majority of his action in relief and saved two games in 15 games and finished with a 1.62 earned run average.
Mt. Vernon finished 31-10-1 this season. The number of wins were a school record, and the Rams placed fourth in 3A at the state final.