BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
Brock Fulkerson launched himself into elite Rams baseball company Tuesday.
The junior Mt. Vernon hurler was named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association 3A all-state team.
“It's truly an honor to be mentioned as an all stater in the state of Illinois. It's a great baseball state,” Fulkerson said. “Just to have the opportunity to be listed among the great players in the state at this time is a great thing.”
He is one of three Mt. Vernon players in more than 25 years to end the season with the honor. James Mulvaney made the team in 2010, and Chris Bernard joined the list in 1995.
“To have my name mentioned in the same category as those guys, they were some great players,” Fulkerson said. “I, of course, watched Jim my whole entire younger life and then heard things about Bernard.”
The junior was the top pitcher for a Rams team that finished the season fourth in the state and had a record of 31-10-1. Mt. Vernon also won its fourth straight South Seven Conference title.
“For us to have the success that we've had this year, Brock has been a big part of that,” Mt. Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “What I look at is what has he done when it counts.”
In four games against South Seven competition, Fulkerson had four complete games (Marion, Carbondale, Centralia twice) and allowed just four earned runs. Fulkerson shut down opponents several times throughout the season and tied a school record with his 11 wins. He didn't allow an earned run against East Peoria, Marion during the regular season.
Fulkerson saved some of his best pitching for the postseason. He allowed just two earned runs in his four playoff starts, including Mt. Vernon's final four game against Joliet Catholic the eventual 3A state champions.
“To watch him come along the past few years, he has always been competitive and poised, and he has continued to improve and make himself better,” Holloway said. “We're excited for what is in store for him in the future.
“To do what he did with what he has is very impressive.”
The award comes just days after Fulkerson shared the South Seven Conference Player of the Year award with teammate Landon Thomas.
Fulkerson will prepare for his senior season soon and said the honors will make him work harder.
“To get all these achievements as a junior, it just makes you want to strive to become better and get the same awards next year and if not more,” Fulkerson said.