Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Saxony Lutheran baseball hopeful to return to district-championship winning ways

Saxony Lutheran senior Drew Hahs returns as the Crusaders ace this season after finishing with a record of 3-3 overall, while throwing 50 strikeouts and generating a 3.12 earned run average. Photo by Jay Forness

Three seasons removed from the program’s first-ever state final four finish, the Saxony Lutheran baseball team is hoping to win what would be the Crusaders first district championship since their historic 2019 season.

Saxony took third in Class 3 that year and missed a 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic that had promise for another state run, but luckily the Crusaders are bringing back a good portion of their talent from a 12-7 campaign that ended in the Class 2 District 3 semifinals.

Saxony fell by three runs to the eventual district champions Greenville, which advanced all the way to the quarterfinals.

Returning to the diamond as the Crusaders ace pitcher will be senior Drew Hahs, who finished with an overall record of 3-3 on the mound. Through a team-high 33.2 innings pitched, Hahs, who will play college baseball at John Wood Community College in Quincy, Illinois next spring, recorded a team-high 50 strikeouts with the second-best earned run average at 3.12 as a junior.

“He came a thousand miles in his pitching last year,” Coach Sander said. “He has a real nice arm, so he gives us a nice solid No. 1. He really came on quickly — he worked hard, physically grew, and it all came together for him. We’re going to have to ride him pretty hard.”

Outside of Hahs, there are hardly any players who have pitched at the varsity level prior to this season, but the Crusaders do have several options that are just unproven up to this point. Coach Sander believes that his staff could be “pretty good” depending on how his other pitchers step up.

“They all like to compete — they like the challenge, and they’re not backing away from it,” Sander said. “Throwing in the bullpen down here with Coach [Mark] Lewis is completely different than going out on the mound and facing batters. Some of them will get along better than others, but they’ve got to throw against batters.”

Filling in as the No. 2 pitcher behind Hahs to start the season is junior Owen Tarry, who will be Saxony’s starting pitcher when the team isn’t facing a district or top-tier opponent Coach Sander would prefer for Hahs to throw against.

Coming in behind those two will be Crusaders like senior Lucas Koenig and junior Mason Landewee, whom Sander describes as a “anomaly” since he throws the knuckleball. Coach Sander hopes a player like Landewee can become a big part of his team’s pitching rotation.

Saxony’s first baseman senior Aaron Eubanks will also factor in at pitcher as he threw 3.1 innings last spring and recorded one strikeout in his limited time on the mound. The Crusaders had five seniors primarily pitching along with Hahs, so there weren’t a lot of innings to go around.

Other options at pitcher include junior outfielder David Weinhold, sophomore center fielder Brayden Moore and freshman Cole Roth, which is a player whose future Coach Sander is excited about because of his potential.

“Roth has a real-nice freshman arm, and he’s got a real mature physical body,” Sander raved. “He has a very bright future here — it’s just a matter of how quick. We hope he helps some on varsity this year, but if not he’s certainly going to be a forced to be reckoned with the next three years after this season.”

Moving to the lineup, senior shortstop Jace Boland will look to lead things off after a junior campaign where he recorded a .356 batting average, 21 hits, 19 runs scored, 13 runs batted in and seven stolen bases. Boland had a fielding percentage of .933 last season as Saxony’s starting second baseman, which is the position Tarry will fill in at to help solidify the infield.

Coach Sander went as far to say Boland reminds him of one of his former all-state players in 2021 graduate Tanner King, who was a vital part of Saxony’s Class 3 third-place finish back in the 2019 season.

“Boland is the field general in the infield because he’s extremely smart — he’s a Tanner King-type smart,” Coach Sander said. “When other guys are out of position, he knows to say, ‘Hey!’ He’ll be the vocal guy in the infield. He’s not a big player, but he’s gritty and fast. If he would go down with an injury, it would hurt us really bad. Boland, Hahs and Eubanks were voted by the players as our team captains. Their looked upon as leaders by the other guys.”

Boland will most likely be joined up top by junior left fielder Blake Gaebler, who batted .300 with nine hits, eight runs and 14 RBIs while playing part-time varsity as a sophomore.

Batting in the three-hole spot for the Crusaders is most likely going to be Missouri Valley signee Aaron Eubanks, who returns with a team-high batting average of .385. Eubanks also recorded one of Saxony’s four home runs last spring, along with six hits, six runs scored and eight RBIs.

“About halfway through last year, I gave Aaron some shots to play and start,” Sander said. “All of a sudden one day, he got two or three hits, and he’s never stopped hitting. He’s one of the better hitters in the area and it’s because he kept working, working and working. Everything finally clicked for him, so he’s come a thousand miles in half a year.”

Batting cleanup behind Eubanks will likely be Hahs, who is going to play at third base when he’s not pitching and will play catcher if needed. At the plate last spring, Drew finished with a .319 battting average and recorded 15 hits, 13 RBIs, 14 runs scored, five doubles and one triple.

“I don’t know if they expected when Eubanks and Hahs were sophomores that they were going to get signed to play in college,” Sander said. “They’ve come a long way, and the guys that put in the work are the guys that end up having a chance to go. Those two guys work all winter, all fall and are at every open field and every open gym. They also go other places and throw bullpens when it’s cold.”

Saxony’s starting catcher this season is going to be senior Carson Birk as he also finished with a batting average above .300 (.314), while scoring 15 runs off 11 hits and drove in six. Carson also stole four bases and only had one error for a .991 fielding percentage in his junior campaign.

One pleasant surprise for Saxony so far has been Brayden Moore, who showed the staff that he had plenty of skill as a freshman last year but that his talents were still raw, Coach Sander explained.

“[Moore] has worked hard over the summer and winter going various places to workout,” Sander said. “He has tremendous speed — speed burner. He and Jace Boland are the two fastest guys on our team and will probably bat towards the top of our lineup.”

With so many pitchers on staff this year, Saxony will most likely use the designated hitter position more than it has in year’s past as Lucas Koenig will likely fill the role. Koenig is also going to play at first base when Eubanks is pitching.

Starting at right field will be another upperclassmen in junior Nolan Hale, whom Coach Sander describes as a good hitter. David Weinhold — a lefty — will also challenge for playing time in the outfield as will junior Sterling McMullin.

Playing as a utility in the Crusaders infield will be junior Reid Bengston as he is going to play second base, shortstop and third base. Another freshman like Roth who could see time on the varsity level is first baseman Korby Engert.

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.

You May Also Like

City News

A 26-year-old Mississippi man was disarmed, arrested and charged with murder following an early morning shooting spree on Wednesday, Dec. 22, at the Town...

City News

A 58-year-old Jackson man drowned after going into Jackson City Park’s Rotary Lake during the July 4th firework show Sunday night. The man’s body...

City News

Americans frustrated by the policies of the current administration in Washington have let their feelings be known in large sporting venues across the country...


Former Jackson High School athletes will soon be honored in a new hall of fame program approved by the Jackson R-2 School Board during...