By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Cody Collender has kept busy in the 10 days following Clinton High’s deep playoff baseball run. Last week, he played in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association’s annual All-Star series performing well in four games for the Large School East squad.
“It was a great experience for me,” Collender said, reflecting on a six RBI, .455 average four-game performance. He was one of 16 players named to the team which squared off against large and small school squads in Des Moines, Aug. 8-11. “Not only was it fun playing baseball, but getting to know some of the guys across the state was just great.”
Collender’s next venture hits a lot closer to home.
Tonight he will join fellow Clinton seniors Ryan Driscoll and Cody Nolan during the annual Iowa vs. Illinois Senior All-Star Showcase. The doubleheader event is usually held in Davenport, but this year, the Clinton LumberKings and Ashford University Field will play host. The game will pit Mississippi Athletic Conference stars against Big Western Six (Illinois) players.
It’s another opportunity, said Collender, to network with other players. Referencing his last high school at bat, Collender said it’s also a chance for personal “redemption.”
“If the opportunity comes, I’d like to come up the bases loaded again,” he said. In the state finals, Collender took the plate down 4-0 in the sixth with three runners on and no outs when Sioux City East made a pitching change. His last River King at bat was a pop out to the pitcher.
“I’d like to redeem myself a little,” he said. “That moment has just motivated me to do better.”
Other players have their own motivations. Collender said it will likely be the last time Nolan and Driscoll play organized ball, as well as the last time the three will appear together on a field representing Clinton.
“I think it’s going to have a lot of meaning for them (Nolan and Driscoll). We all know in our own minds that this is the last baseball game together,” Collender said.
Joining the River Kings will be other players who were in the IHSBCA All-Star series. Derek Burkamper -- MAC Player of the Year and First Team All-State selection -- will represent Muscatine on the Iowa team before departing for the University of Nebraska. University of Illinois recruit Cody Sedlock is joining the Illinois squad.
It’s also a chance for the River Kings to play two more games for coach Kevin Cunningham, who was named an assistant for the Iowa team.
Even though it’s an exhibition game, it carries a lot of meaning for different reasons, and Collender and others aren’t taking it too lightly.
“I’m just really excited,” he said. “Not only do we represent our teams but we’re doing it in our hometown. I’m going to treat this like any other game, but you also want to have fun.”
Game 1 of the doubleheader starts at 5 p.m. with the night cap following at roughly 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students with gates to the Ashford Field opening at 4 p.m.