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JCHS baseball team awards outstanding members

The JCHS Baseball program wrapped up their season in style last Tuesday night at their annual banquet hosted in the high school commons area. Family, friends, coaching staff, and players were all on hand in what turned out to be a very positive reflection of the team’s successes this year. Refreshments were served and long time supporter Missy Newman revealed a special slideshow presentation compiled from the hundreds of photos taken throughout the season.

Awards were divided up between the Junior Varsity and Varsity programs, with Coach Nicholas Perkins kicking off the evening by reflecting on the team’s five seniors and their contributions to the program, noting that they have been “one of the most enjoyable senior classes I have ever been around.” Coach Pete Pavusek expressed similar appreciation for the boys’ efforts, emphasizing a very solid 11-11 record overall, despite starting off very young and often with more question marks than answers as far as positions are concerned.

In a notoriously difficult conference, Pavusek was proud of his team and how they played, coming down to a two and one tournament run that saw the Longhorns finally earn a victory over the Happy Valley Warriors. That game marked another milestone as well, standing as the 50th career victory for Johnson County’s four-year seniors.

All of the seniors, with their varied and diverse experiences, received some kind of recognition. Zack Wills, who just returned to the program this season after a harrowing battle with illness off the field, was given recognition as the Comeback Player of the Year, and Jake Sutherland, who likewise only returned this season after moving to New York his sophomore year, took home the team’s Senior Award. Wills became a staple of the team toward the end of the season, supporting his teammates at every turn, and Sutherland helped provide some quality pitching when Johnson County needed it the most.

Nathaniel Graybeal, who has done very well in outfield this year and has also been one of the team’s more consistent hitters, earned his title as Most Improved for the varsity, while Sam Thomas took home three of the program’s most coveted titles, Pitcher of the Year, Best Offense, and Team MVP. Many of these awards were voted on by the team itself, and Thomas has had a very positive attitude all season, stepping up and filling a leadership void that was left over after the huge graduating class last season.

Joining him in this role was Blade Hampton, who along with Thomas was one of the team’s only All Conference players. Hampton took this honor one step farther by earning an All District Team recognition as well as being voted Co-Golden Glove by his teammates. Junior Adam Worley was the other recipient of the Golden Glove. Worley, an extremely talented athlete in his own right, went on to claim several honors for his role on the JV team, taking both MVP and the Coaches Award. Joining him were Nicholas Whitener and Payton Fenner who earned spots as the JV Pitcher of the Year and Offensive Player of the year respectively.

The player recognitions aside, Coach Pavusek also gave out several special plaques to the team’s key supporters. Diane Osborne and Missy Newman were both recognized for their efforts and Vance Henderson from Food Country USA was honored for his contributions to the team’s concessions. Pavusek recognized Karen Blevins for her help with managing the program’s finances and George Williams was presented a plaque for his time and dedication helping with the team’s scores and stats. Finally Pavusek thanked his coaching staff, not only long time assistant Coach Nicholas Perkins, but also new Coach Jerry Whitener who has stepped in this year and has proven to be an invaluable asset. In all, the evening was a good send off for the team’s seniors, a reflection of the season’s progress, and hopefully a good indicator for continued progress next year.