Full disclosure: I was very surprised when last week we still had four baseball teams in our coverage left in the postseason hunt. It then occurred to me how despite that success, there’s no guarantee any of those players will receive first-team all-state baseball recognition.
If local players aren’t honored, I don’t fault the process. Voting is a collaboration of editors and coaches who can make it to a special meeting in Des Moines. The decision needs to take place somewhere, and in that somewhere regional people will be there to make cases for probably viable candidates trimming down to 15 or so names.
By necessity those decisions will be based on stats, eye-witness accounts, much debating and probably some hometown bias. I nominated one player from our coverage area, with bias: Clinton High second baseman Cody Collender.
When I wander the visiting stands at Eagle Heights Elementary, the baseball junkie dads (the ones who usually shout “strategic suggestions” away from the rest of the parents) all murmur at the sight of number 24. These are the guys who make the act of browsing Quikstats rival the most intense fantasy football league draft.
Every one of them knows the name Collender. They know more about Collender – where he’s going to college, last year’s stats, his height in centimeters – than they know about some of their son’s teammates. I haven’t observed this elsewhere, even with a wealth of great local baseball this year.
That’s because teams have to know about Collender – a speedy power hitter who has made more than a few tip-your-cap field plays. He’s one major piece behind the River Kings’ state tournament bid. He leads 25-win Clinton in every significant offensive category: nine homers, 41 RBIs, 45 runs, 57 hits, .429 average, .744 slugging and 29 stolen bases.