Effingham's 14-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star team last week brought home a district tournament championship from Charleston, and this week will be trying to win the Illinois 14-year-old state tournament, taking place right here at Evergreen Hollow Park beginning on Thursday.

The winner of the weekend tournament will earn a berth into the Ohio Valley Regional scheduled for July 27-31 in Jasper, Ind.

Effingham is 12-3 heading into state tourney play and is coached by Mike McCollum with assistants Nick Jansen and John Bushur.

McCollum has commented on each of his players, beginning with Steven Thomas.

"Steven has good speed and a good glove in the outfield," McCollum said. "He is a left-handed hitter that can hit to all fields and is a good bunter with exceptional speed." Thomas is Effingham's leadoff man and is hitting .270 this season.

"Cody McCollum will bat in the second position," McCollum continued. "He is a good contact hitter and hits to all fields. He plays second base and covers a lot of ground, has good hands and is a good base stealer.

"Brade Reedy will bat third in the order and has power to all fields. He will pitch and play right field and has very good speed on the bases." Reedy is the team's leading hitter with a .390 average.

"Matt Hecht will play shortstop and help out behind the plate if necessary," said McCollum. "He hits the ball hard and has very good hands at shortstop." Hecht is close behind Reedy with a .387 average.

"Luke Bushur will be our starting catcher, but will be called upon for some pitching," McCollum continued. "He can hit the ball to all fields with power and has a great release as a catcher. He is a good defensive catcher and throws out numerous base stealers.

"Jaden Widdersheim is a hard-nosed player who enjoys playing the game. He pitches but also catches some and plays third base. He is a good pitcher that mixes his speeds and wants the ball in the big game.

"Blake Kuhl is a very versitile player and will play infield and outfield as well as pitch. He is a good contact hitter with a .333 average.

"Andy Hardiek is a very good defensive player with soft hands. He plays first base and is a line drive hitter that can hit to all fields.

"Marty Jansen is a third baseman with good instincts. He reads the batters very well and is an outstanding baserunner. He is willing to give himself up to advance runners and help the team.

"Jordan Bales is a left-handed left fielder who hits right -handed. The ball jumps off of his bat. He is always motivating his teammates.

"Lance Niebrugge will play any of the outfield positions. He does a good job of moving runner into scoring position and is a great team player. He is always positive and encourages his teammates.

"Will Rincker is a good defensive outfielder who gets a great jump on the ball. He has a strong arm and has good speed on the bases.

"This team has been very enjoyable to coach," McCollum concluded. "They have had a lot of success the past three years playing together and they always seem to rise to the occasion.

"I also want to thank the parents for their support. They hav always been very positive which rubs off on their kids, which makes for a great team atmosphere. We truly seem like one big family which makes it fun for everyone."

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