2014 All-County Baseball

Presented by The Daily Courier
Jun. 19, 2014 @ 07:18 AM

After a 2014 season full of outstanding performance by dozens of Rutherford County high school baseball players, The Daily Courier is proud to present its 2014 All-County Baseball Team.

The sports staff used statistics, nominations and personal observations to highlight individuals at each position.

Catcher

Hunter Henson, Chase

Henson led the Chase Trojans and the county with a .536 batting average racking up 37 hits and 13 RBIs.

Almost more impressive than his batting average is the fact that Henson struck out just three times all season and boasted a .579 on-base percentage.

"[Henson] really stepped up as a sophomore and contribute at the plate. After we had struggle sin the leadoff spot he moved right in and got on base consistently," Chase head coach Tony Wall said. "He has a great future ahead of him."

Of Henson's 37 hits, just six went for extra bases, which is a credit to his speed that also resulted in a team-high 18 stolen bases.

First base

Chase Jenkins, East Rutherford

Jenkins stepped into a starring role this season with the Cavaliers in a big way.

In his first year as a full-time first baseman for East Rutherford, Jenkins led the team with a .338 average and 20 RBIs. He also belted three home runs.

"[Jenkins] put in a lot of work in the offseason and came through and really surprised us," East Rutherford head coach Bobby Reynolds said. "Through his hard work he might have a chance to continue playing at the next level and keep improving his game."

Second base

Zane Jackson, Thomas Jefferson

As a sophomore, Jackson led the Gryphons with a .407 batting average.

The youngster knocked in 12 runs and added nine stolen bases.

"[Jackson] was a pretty big surprise for us coming in as just a sophomore," Thomas Jefferson head coach Chris White said. "I expected him to come in, start and contribute, but I never expected him to lead us the way that he did."

Third base

John Bennett, East Rutherford

At the start of the season East Rutherford head coach Bobby Reynolds said he need Bennett to "hit double and jacks." Bennett obliged by leading the team in extra base hits with seven doubles and a county-leading five home runs while batting .316.

Bennett also came in second on the team with 18 RBIs.

"[Bennett] had a big year for us driving in runs and we hope for an even bigger year next season," Reynolds said of the junior third baseman. "He's a big bat in the middle of our lineup and we're excited to have him back."

Shortstop

Tripp Hamrick, East Rutherford

Hamrick was expected to be a leader for the Cavaliers in 2014 and didn't disappoint. Not only did he supply a walk-off hit in the first round of the state playoffs, he closed his East Rutherford career with another all-conference season batting .313 with five doubles, a triple and eight stolen bases from the leadoff spot.

The senior shortstop with play at Lenior-Rhyne next season.

"Tripp Hamrick has been our leader for the past couple years and that's going to be the hardest thing to replace," East Rutherford head coach Bobby Reynolds said. "He runs our defense and he'll be missed sorely."

Outfield

Aaron Ballinger, Chase

Arguably Chase's most versatile player, Ballinger saw chunks of time in centerfield, at shortstop and on the mound. However, his largest contribution came at the plate where he batted .365 with four home runs. Ballinger's speed was also a weapon for the Trojans as he stole 16 bases in 2014.

"Aaron had a rough start but got hot when it counted," Chase head coach Tony Wall said. "He's a dynamic player that could easily turn a single into a double."

Outfield

Austin Pressley, Thomas Jefferson

Pressley closed his high school career with a stat line any coach would love to see. Pressley finished the season with a .385 batting average including five doubles, three triples and 10 RBIs while scoring 10 runs and stealing 12 bases. He also logged 17 innings on the mound.

"[Pressley] was a big hitter for us this year but that was something I was looking for out of him," Thomas Jefferson head coach Chris White said. "I knew he was a good hitter, but on the mound he came through for us in relief in some big games."

Outfield

Austin Street, East Rutherford

Street came into the season as one of the Cavaliers' senior leaders and came through with the his best season in red and black.

Street batted .304 with five doubles and a home run while knocking in 14 runs.

"Street went from losing his his batting privileges last season to really coming up big for us this year at the bottom of the lineup," East Rutherford head coach Bobby Reynolds said. "He had some big hits and created some big wins with his at-bats."

Designated Hitter

Lance Greene, R-S Central

Greene anchored a Hilltoppers lineup that often needed his bat. Greene led the team with a .330 batting average and stacked up 10 doubles and 20 RBIs in his senior campaign with R-S Central.

"We tried to get guys on in front of him all year long," R-S Central head coach Chadd Fowler said. "He was the consistent guy in the middle of our lineup for two years."

Pitcher

Connor Dailey, R-S Central

Once again, Dailey was arguably the most feared arm in Rutherford County this season.

Dailey posted a 3-1 record in county matchups losing only to East Rutherford late in the season.

Dailey finished his senior season with 85 strikeouts in 75 innings pitched earning a 1.6 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.

"Every time we put [Dailey] out there we felt like we could compete against anybody," R-S Central head coach Chadd Fowler said. "He was a bulldog for us that's going to be tough to replace."

Pitcher

Josh Epley, Chase

Epley was an absolute workhorse for the Trojans. The senior righty logged over 74 innings and struck out 87 batters during 2014.

Epley's 3.02 ERA earned him all-conference honors as well.

"[Epley] was definitely the MVP of the team," Chase head coach Tony Wall said. "He didn't have his best stuff at times but his competitive edge payed off and he put the team on his back to win ball games."

Pitcher

Cameron Hodge, East Rutherford

Hodge, the junior lefty with an unorthodox motion, quickly became the East Rutherford ace in 2014.

Hodge posted a 6-1 record and struck out 74 batter in just 50 innings en route to a miniscule .98 ERA. Hodge is sure to be a key piece in the Cavalier rotation in 2015.

"When we can keep Hodge healthy he's a big positive for our team and makes us better," East Rutherford head coach Bobby Reynolds said. "Hopefully we can keep him healthy for next season. Health was the only thing that kept him from being more successful this year."

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2014 All-County Baseball

Position^Player^School

Catcher^Hunter Henson^Chase

First base^Chase Jenkins^East Rutherford

Second base ^Zane Jackson^Thomas Jefferson

Third base^John Bennett^East Rutherford

Shortstop^Tripp Hamrick^East Rutherford

Outfield^Aaron Ballinger^Chase

Outfield^Austin Pressley^Thomas Jefferson

Outfield^Austin Street^East Rutherford

Designated hitter^Lance Greene^R-S Central

Pitcher ^Connor Dailey^R-S Central

Pitcher^Josh Epley^Chase

Pitcher^Cameron Hodge^East Rutherford

HONORABLE MENTION

Robbie Evans, 3B, Chase

Jordan Strickland, C, East Rutherford

Stephen Moss, SS, Thomas Jefferson