Those numbers stack up statewide too. Compared with other second basemen in the Iowa Coaches Association top-10 4A schools, Collender leads in homers, slugging and average, is rated second in RBIs, stolen bases, and is top five in other major statistics.
Hard to argue with two multi-homer games against MAC foes this year; or back-to-back four-RBI games in the Fort Dodge tournament. Or intangible plays like Collender’s gem against Cedar Rapids Xavier -- swooping in to pick up a surefire bloop single in right for a 360-spinning throw out to first with time to spare.
Could be a safe bet, right? There may be a couple hurdles ahead. Iowa City West’s second baseman Reid Bonner beats Collender in several significant categories, all while fueling the Trojans to a No. 2 ranking and 33 wins. And while Cody’s numbers make a solid case, there may be others whose stats don’t paint a full picture, or will be favored because of bias — the same way I would favor our local kids if I were at the meeting.
Collender has one significant edge, though, over Bonner and others: he has a chance to dazzle voters tonight at the state tournament, unlike many of those competing with him for a first-team slot. Considering Clinton is now a top-eight team, it’s fair that it’s heaviest hitter warrants a considerable look.
The way I see it, the finest team in Iowa would maneuver to fit Collender in its lineup. Full disclosure: I’ll be very surprised if all-state selectors don’t feel the same.