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Jackson baseball fields senior class with a total of eight college signees

Saint Louis signee catcher Baden Hackworth enters his final year at Jackson as a returning Class 6 District 1 All-District and SEMO All-Conference honoree. Photo by Jay Forness

Every spring, high school programs from across the country usually have a few players from its senior class go on to play collegiately, but Jackson baseball’s 2023 class has taken things a step further.

Out of the 12 seniors on this year’s team, eight of them have already signed national letters of intent to continue their careers at the next level. Two of those Indians will play at the Division-I level in pitcher/outfielder Caden Bogenpohl (Missouri State) and catcher Baden Hackworth (Saint Louis).

These seniors will be led by a new head coach in Josh Roach, who actually served as an assistant last spring before taking over this season. Coach Roach, who also used to be the head coach of Jackson’s softball team, described this opportunity as a dream job.

“I had the opportunity a few years back, but it just didn’t work out,” Roach said. “To have a second chance of being in this role is pretty special, and I’m really excited for it. As a high school baseball coach, you couldn’t ask for more talent on one team to have a number of highly talented guys in your first year in the role.

“It’s pretty special, but there’s a little pressure because in this program and especially this year you’re expected to perform at a really high level. But they’re ready and have worked extremely hard to get here — they’re hungry and ready to go out and make some noise.”

Aside from being 6-foot-5, the future Bear Bogenpohl stood out from the crowd for Jackson by being named to Class 6 All-State for the second year in a row. Caden was selected to the first team as a pitcher after making it as an outfielder his sophomore year.

On the mound last spring, Bogenpohl had one of the best seasons in Jackson baseball history as he finished undefeated with an unblemished record of 8-0. Caden also struck out 72 batters and finished with an earned run average of 1.94 to be named one of Missouri’s top-five pitchers in Class 6.

At the plate, Bogenpohl led the Indians in major statistical categories such as batting average (.405), hits (30), home runs (seven), runs batted in (29) and doubles (nine). Caden also finished second for Jackson in runs scored (28) and stolen bases (16).

“A guy like that doesn’t come around very often — maybe once in a coaching career I would imagine,” Coach Roach said. “He is a special talent. Just being around him since this summer he’s proven to be a solid young man, who works extremely hard. He’s quiet — he’s gigantic — but a lot of times you won’t even know he’s there until he starts hitting the ball and throwing the ball, then it’s like, ‘Wow!’ It’s a different sound when Caden hits the ball, and it’s a different sound when he throws the ball.”

As for a player like Hackworth, who transferred from Sikeston to Jackson last season, the future Billiken garnered Class 6 District 1 All-District and SEMO All-Conference honors in his first season with the Indians. This was after Baden recorded a .275 batting average and paced a player like Bogenpohl with 19 hits, four home runs, 19 RBIs and actually led Jackson in stolen bases with 21.

“Hackworth is an amazing talent — he is going to be behind the plate for us — and he’s a leader,” Coach Roach said. “The boys listen to him and want to hear what he has to say. He’s outspoken and is full of energy — likes to make noise. He’s definitely going to be a rock in our lineup and do a great job behind the plate.”

One player returning for the Indians who isn’t a senior but will more than likely play at the next level as well is junior pitcher John Paul Sauer, who threw a complete-game shutout against then nationally-ranked Christian Brothers College at the beginning of last spring.

“In a high school program to have two extremely, high-level pitchers — in my opinion some of the best in the state of Missouri — gives us a huge advantage,” Coach Roach said. “Usually teams will have one guy that’s really good, and if you get past that guy, they’re beatable after that. We have two that are really good. Teams are going to have a very difficult time with those two on the mound.”

Another arm that Jackson will heavily rely on outside of their top-two aces in Bogenpohl and Sauer will be senior pitcher Kaden Kendle. He was primarily a relief pitcher for the Indians last spring.

Kendle was, in fact, one of Jackson’s eight college signings prior to the start of the season as he inked with State Fair Community College. Another fellow Indian will also continue their career on the diamond at State Fair in left fielder Dylan Hayman.

“To me Kendle is flying under the radar a little bit, and nobody knows Kaden too much right now, but they will,” Coach Roach said. “He’s a very solid pitcher for us as well.”

As far as players coming out of the bullpen goes to relieve his stating pitchers if need be, Coach Roach said he will be relying on a number of younger pitchers, who don’t have a ton of varsity experience heading into this season. Even with that being the case, Roach said he has “a lot of guys” who can throw, including three left-handed pitchers.

Some pitchers who will certainly see plenty of innings are juniors Carson McDaniel and Adrian Fox.

“They will definitely get some big outs for us in certain situations — they don’t throw extremely hard, but they’ve got junk pitches,” Coach Roach explained. “The curveball, changeup and spotting fastballs, so we have a lot of guys who will help solidify that bullpen.”

Also joining the junior college ranks after this spring with Hayman and Kendle will be shortstop Henley Parker (Jefferson College) and third baseman Quinton Borders (Crowder College). Jackson’s eighth and final signee was center fielder Steven Schneider, who inked with Division-II Maryville in St. Louis.

To no one’s surprise, Bogenpohl and Hackworth will bat in the heart of Jackson’s lineup at the three-hole and cleanup, respectively. Parker is going to be the Indians leadoff man as Borders will bat behind him in second.

“Bogenpohl and Hack-worth are the one-two punch that we have, but our lineup is going to be very, very balanced,” Coach Roach said. “There’s really not a weakness in our lineup — everybody is going to be able to hit and drive the ball. Bogenpohl, Hackworth and Borders have the ability to drive the ball out of any park, so to have that — it doesn’t happen very often on a high school team.

“The Bogey-Hackworth combination is going to be really tough to get around. You’re going to have to work around one of them, but then you’ve got the other one right behind him, so you’re going to put one guy on base, and they’re going to be driving in runs.”

During this past winter season, Schneider helped the Jackson boys basketball team reach the state final four for the first time in 86 years as one of the team’s pivotal players coming off the bench at guard. He did so with fellow senior first baseman Clayton Ernst, who was the Indians post player and even garnered Class 6 District 1 All-District honors for Jackson.

Last year’s Indians extended the streak of consecutive 20-win seasons to seven with their best winning percentage in more than 15 years at 80.8% (21-5 overall). However, there has now been a three-year dry spell since Jackson has won a district title, which it last captured in 2018.

“The thing that I’ve noticed about this group is that they are a very tight knit group of young men,” Coach Roach said. “They get along well with each other, and they’ve played with each other since they were seven-years-old. They know how this guy is going to respond or how that guy is going to respond. To walk into a situation where the team is already that close is a phenomenal thing.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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