During the St. Louis Pirates travel team game Saturday, Ben Hecht came out of the batter's box, stepped up to the plate, and laced a double off the top of the right field wall. While missing a home run just barely was a bit of a disappointment, Hecht had more than the double to smile about. Before the at-bat, Hecht was informed by his father that he had been drafted by the New York Mets. "I was actually in the on-deck circle at Granite City for another game, and my dad said "New York Mets" and held up a three and a one," Hecht said.The St. Anthony standout and last year's Class 1A player of the year was taken in the 31st round by the Mets Saturday afternoon. New York had been scouting Hecht, along with the Texas Rangers, the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets caught Hecht at his finest earlier this season, when the senior tossed a no-hitter against Neoga on May 1, as Hecht struck out 17 Indians in the process.While that probably wasn't the only thing that caught New York's eye, it certainly didn't hurt. "They caught me on a good day, I was fortunate enough," he said of his May 1 feat. Now, it's decision time for Hecht, who has the offer from the Mets, but is also committed to play baseball at Illinois State University next season. If Hecht attends ISU, he will not be draft eligible again until following his junior year. Going to college could improve his draft stock in 2016, but the offer could give him time to be groomed by professional coaches in the Mets system. It won't be an easy one, and he has until July 12 to make the decision. "There's going to be a lot of thinking involved," Hecht said. "Getting to professional baseball is the dream of every kid, and going there out of high school.. It probably won't be for the next two or three days. Hecht was one of four Effingham area players to be drafted over the three-day draft, and the only high schooler out of the bunch. While his life could change a lot over the next week, the news didn't change his approach Saturday."It was a pretty standard day, just playing baseball," he said.He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, and could go from travel ball to the minors — if he so chooses.
Bulldogs fifth at ISU
St. Anthony took to the links for the second-straight day and had a strong showing at the Raider/Redbird Classic.
The Bulldogs finished fifth among a 20-team field, shooting a 318. East Peoria shot a 312 to win it, Normal U-High and Lincoln each shot 315s with Normal winning the tie-breaker, and Bloomington took fourth with a 317.
St. Anthony will lead with speed
For the last five years, Eric Morales has been the assistant coach of the St. Anthony Bulldogs soccer team. But this season he will have his chance at the helm and try to help lead the Bulldogs to their first regional title since 2010.
St. Anthony is missing six seniors from last years team, including its leading goal scorer and starting goalie.
Flaming Hearts win St. Anthony Invitational
The Flaming Hearts of Effingham were the overall winners and also had the medalist. Effingham shot a team score of 312 to beat the host Bulldogs by nine shots. Hearts senior Jackson Wendling finished with a 72 to take medalist honors.
Teutopolis takes opener against St. Thomas More
Teutopolis took the course with a new coach and four players, but as coach Becky Probst said, it takes four to score.
And those four Lady Shoes took their first match of the year, topping Champaign St. Thomas More 216-227 in both teams' openers at Cardinal Golf Course in Effingham.
Time to tee off, golf season starts fall sports campaign today
The fall sports campaign kicks off in earnest Monday afternoon, with the first area varsity contests being held in Windsor and Effingham this afternoon.
The St. Anthony Invitational boys golf tournament will be held at Fox Prairie Golf Course at 1 p.m. in Windsor, while the Teutopolis Lady Shoes host St. Thomas More at Cardinal Golf Course at 4 p.m.
Flaming Hearts' flexibility a plus; Effingham prepping for upcoming soccer season
Three days into the practice season, Effingham soccer coach Aaron Witges sees a lot of flexibility.
It was something his squad had last year, with 10 seniors but young players forcing their way into the lineup as well.
Coming off a 10-8-3 season, some of those young players will find themselves in new positions for the Flaming Hearts this season.
Flaming Hearts set with new coach
The Effingham Flaming Hearts volleyball team will have a new but familiar face leading them on the sideline this season.
As a former player for the Hearts, coach Mindy McCollum-Boswell will look to lead her team to their first regional title since 2008.
Czachorski: Bears backups worrisome
This might sound shockingly similar to a number of columns I've written in the past, but it bears repeating (excusing a terrible pun).
The quarterback situation is worrisome.
Newton soccer kicks off, inaugural season starts Sept. 2
For the first time in the history of Newton High School, a soccer team will be a part of the fall sports season.
Pocrnich wins national ATV title
As people get older, their chance at a national championship diminishes, but Effingham’s Kevin Pocrnich was able to win one at 49 years old.
Pocrnich won the Class 16 Senior 40+ Mountain Dew ATV Motocross Championship and according to the league website, finished fourth in the Class 14 30+ Veteran division. He went out with a bang, winning the final race of the season in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee Saturday.
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- Bulldogs fifth at ISU