Hayden Juenger's fastball leaves vapor trails.
The O'Fallon High senior knows his heater can light up the radar gun. He regularly receives double-takes from professional scouts.
But he also is aware that it takes more than just speed to reach the next level.
So Juenger set out to add other pitches to his arsenal this season.
“He understands that to get good hitters out, you've got to have the ability to throw secondary stuff to keep them on their front foot,” O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said.
Juenger picked the brains of some his pitching teammates to help him add to his repertoire.
“I was talking to (Jaysn) Miller in the offseason because I was trying to establish a slider and I was trying different grips and I asked everybody how they gripped their stuff,” Juenger said.
Those tips helped Juenger become the Post-Dispatch All-Metro pitcher of the year.
His hard work in the offseason was the key to a banner campaign.
“I think without question he put the time in in the weight room to give him the strength to go deeper into games,” Portz said. “The development of his secondary pitches, his slider and changeup, gave him the opportunity to get the strikeouts when he needed them.”
Juenger helped lead the Panthers to a school-record 35 wins. They won regional and sectional championships before losing to Carl Sandburg in the super-sectional round.
The flamethrower, whose fastball tops out at 93 miles per hour, posted a 9-1 record with a razor-sharp 1.55 ERA. He struck out 75 batters in 54 1/3 innings and led the area with a WHIP of 0.87.
A Missouri State University signee, he held opponents to a minuscule .158 batting average.
Juenger did not allow an earned run in eight of his 13 appearances.
“I learned about the hitters and how to attack them this year,” Juenger said. “I feel like my slider got a lot better, so I had that true wipeout pitch. I wouldn't say that every time I threw it, it was really good, but I would be able to get them out with the slider instead of always trying to throw my fastball.”
Juenger will carry plenty of fond memories with him to Springfield, Mo. The most lingering was his bounce-back performance in the regional final against Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville.
He gave up his first two homers of the season over the first three innings in that contest and was pulled after the fourth inning. He moved to third base but returned to the hill in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and no one out. He retired the next three hitters without giving up a run to set the stage for Josh Gibson's walk-off RBI single after Jake Holan's game-tying home run in the bottom of the frame.
“I never felt like we were going to lose, even when we had our backs against the wall,” Juenger said.
Juenger played third base when he wasn't on the mound. He hit .430 with three homers and 33 RBI.
“We're a super team-oriented team and we let the 'me' stuff go,” Juenger said. “We would rather see the team succeed and not worry about your personal stats because they'll take care of themselves.”
ALL-METRO FIRST TEAM
Pitcher: Noah Niznik, senior, Vianney
The left-hander closed out the Class 5 championship game for the Griffins and posted a 7-0 record on the mound with a 2.32 ERA. The SEMO signee was part of a deep pitching rotation that led Vianney to 37 wins and the program’s first state championship since 2006. He collected 58 strikeouts and kept opponents to a .218 batting average.
Pitcher: Cody Hacker, senior, Holt
The strikeout artist for the Indians helped guide Holt to its third 20-win season in a row. The 15th-round Baltimore Orioles draft pick posted a 7-1 record with a 2.04 ERA in 48 innings pitched. Hacker led Holt with 92 strikeouts and was one of four pitchers in the area to collect 90 or more strikeouts. He held opponents to just a .153 batting average.
Catcher: Andrew Keck, senior, Vianney
Senior backstop caught a state championship rotation that helped bring a state title to Vianney for the first time since 2006. The SEMO signee only allowed one pass ball and posted a .979 fielding percentage. He also held a .330 batting average with 35 RBI and scored 21 runs. He also led Vianney in stolen bases (14).
Infield: Drake Westcott, sophomore, Edwardsville
One of the more feared bats in the area helped guide Edwardsville to its eighth consecutive season of 25 or more victories. The Louisville commit led the Tigers with a .510 batting average in 96 at-bats. He led Edwardsville in doubles (12), home runs (7) and RBI (34). He also led the team with 34 walks and picked up five stolen bases.
Infield: Kevin Graham, senior, Westminster
The smooth-hitting third baseman helped power an offense that averaged 11 runs a game in a 29-win season. The Ole Miss signee led the Wildcats with 52 RBI, third-most in the area, and held a .417 batting average. He also was tied for the team lead with nine home runs and held a .786 slugging percentage and was a perfect 5-for-5 on stolen bases.
Infield: Dominic Cusumano, senior, Westminster
The shortstop proved key in Westminster's 29-win campaign and did a little bit of everything. The Indiana State signee posted a .423 batting average with a .740 slugging percentage and 33 RBI. He also collected four home runs and stole six bases. In the field, he turned 11 double plays.
Outfield: CJ Cepicky, sophomore, Vianney
Provided a big bat in Vianney’s Class 5 state championship run. The outfielder was second for the Golden Griffins with a .440 batting average and drove in 27 RBI in a 37-win campaign. He posted a .560 slugging percentage and a .977 fielding percentage.
Outfield: Brayden Arnold, senior, O’Fallon
The senior outfielder and designated hitter helped power the Panthers to a school-record 35 wins. The Maryville signee was the big bat in the middle of a potent lineup that was tied for the team lead with five home runs and led the team with 44 RBI. He also provided a power arm on the mound, posting a 8-2 record with a 2.18 ERA and 64 strikeouts.
Outfield: Alex Gauspohl, senior, Timberland
The GAC South player of the year led the Wolves to an 8-2 record in conference play. The Lindenwood signee led the Wolves with a .436 batting average and led them with 24 RBI. He also scored a team-high 28 runs.
Utility: Bryce Grossius, senior, St. Mary’s
The arm that helped guide St. Mary’s back to the semifinal round in Class 4 did a little bit of everything for the Dragons. The SEMO signee helped St. Mary’s to a runner-up finish, posting a .324 batting average and driving in 12 with a .529 slugging percentage. He led the team on the mound with a 6-2 record and a 2.03 ERA and 62 strikeouts.
Utility: Josh Mesenbrink, senior, Triad
The slick-fielding third baseman helped the Knights finish fourth in Class 3A. Mensenbrink helped Triad get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2012 with a .441 batting average and by slugging .724 for the Knights. He led the team most categories: home runs (6), triples (3), doubles (17), RBI (31) and runs scored (42).
ALL-METRO SECOND TEAM
Pitcher: Nick Schmidt, senior, Holt
The right-hander was part of a pitching rotation that helped Holt get its third consecutive 20-win season. A Missouri State signee, Schmidt posted a 7-1 record with a 2.18 ERA and struck out 77. He also had a .416 batting average and led Holt in runs scored (32) and RBI (34).
Pitcher: Austin Schmitt, senior, Valley Park
The Louisiana Monroe signee was the strikeout king of the area with 103. He helped lead Valley Park to a district championship and posted an 8-2 record with an .86 ERA. He held opponents to a .120 batting average and threw four complete games.
Catcher: Jimmy Obertop, junior, Westminster
Helped lead Westminster to a 29-win season. The Michigan commit posted a .456 batting average with a .911 slugging percentage. He was tied for the team high of nine home runs and was second with 42 RBI.
Infield: Shane Wilhelm, senior, Columbia
The senior shortstop helped lead the Eagles to an area-best 28-game winning streak as well as a regional championship. Wilhelm posted a .436 batting average and a .673 slugging percentage with 31 RBI and 39 runs scored. He also held a 4-1 record on the mound with a 3.38 ERA and a team-high 54 strikeouts.
Infield: Jayce Maag, senior, Alton Marquette
The senior shortstop helped the Explorers to a 20-win season. Maag led the team in most offensive categorie: batting average (.485), slugging percentage (.804), runs scored (37) and doubles (13). He also collected 26 RBI for Marquette.
Infield: Braden Spawr, junior, Valley Park
The junior led the area with 63 RBI and led the Hawks with a .476 batting average and a .845 slugging percentage. He also led Valley Park with six home runs and 16 doubles.
Outfield: Tyler Fogarty, junior, Chaminade
The speedy outfielder helped the Red Devils reach the district championship game. Fogarty posted a .379 batting average with a team-high .644 slugging percentage while driving in 23 and scoring 40 runs. He led Red Devils and was second in the area with 38 stolen bases.
Outfield: Philip Reinhardt, sophomore, Valmeyer
The sophomore left-hander led the Pirates with a .431 batting average and drove in 34 RBI during a second consecutive Class 1A runner-up finish. Making the all-state team as an outfielder and pitcher, he also posted a 6-3 record with a 1.81 ERA on the mound.
Outfield: Spencer Daesch, senior, De Smet
The senior outfielder helped lead De Smet back to the Class 5 semifinal round for the first time since 2005. Daesch led the Spartans with a .360 batting average and posted a .507 slugging percentage. He also led De Smet in runs scored (24), doubles (7) and RBI (18).
Utility: Ty Stauss, sophomore, Lafayette
The hot-hitting sophomore helped led the Lancers to a district championship. Stauss posted a .513 batting average with a .795 slugging percentage. He led Lafayette with 33 runs scored and five triples with 16 RBI.
Utility: Nick Beeler, senior, Triad
Beeler led the Knights to their first state tournament appearance since 2012. Beeler threw seven complete games and posted a 9-3 record with a 1.99 ERA over 67 innings pitched. Beeler collected 88 strikeouts and held hitters to a .190 batting average. Offensively, Beeler drove in 29 and scored 21 times.
ALL-METRO THIRD TEAM
Pitcher: Ryan Waller, junior, Lindbergh
Waller helped lead the Flyers to a district championship and was one of five pitchers in the area to post nine wins. He had a 1.18 ERA over 59 1-3 innings pitched with a team-high 51 strikeouts. He pitched two complete games and kept opponents to a .170 batting average.
Pitcher: Jeremy Isenman, junior, St. Pius X
Isenman led the Lancers to a district title game appearance and held a 9-2 record with a 0.58 ERA in 48 2-3 innings pitched. He also led the team with 84 strikeouts and had a 0.86 WHIP. Isenman held opponents to a .139 batting average.
Catcher: Quinten Albrecht, senior, Waterloo
Helped the Bulldogs post a 20-win campaign. The Wichita State signee held a .505 batting average and a .905 slugging percentage. He led Waterloo in doubles (15), home runs (7), runs scored (35) and RBI (35).
Infield: Michael Parks, senior, St. Mary's
Parks did a little bit of everything as the Dragons finished as the Class 4 runner-up. Parks posted a .369 batting average, collected six doubles and drove in 21. He also held a 4-1 record on the mound with a 2.00 ERA in 56 innings pitched and struck out a team-leading 71.
Infield: Matthew Albritton, senior, O'Fallon
Albritton led Panthers to a program-record 35 wins and a sectional championship. Albritton held a .426 batting average, .681 slugging percentage, drove in 37 and scored 32 runs.
Infield: Zach Floyd, junior, Lutheran St. Charles
The junior helped the Cougars capture a district championship while holding a .467 batting average. He led the team with a .811 slugging percentage and drove in 30. He also scored 33 runs.
Outfield: Jake Krekel, senior, Valmeyer
The senior center fielder helped Valmeyer reach the Class 1A title game for the second consecutive season. The Pirates finished as runner-up as Krekel posted a .397 batting average with a .566 slugging percentage and collected 35 RBI and scored 46 times.
Outfield: Jaydon Stewart, senior, Mascoutah
Stewart helped lead Mascoutah to the best start in school history, winning 21 of its first 22 games. The speedy outfielder swiped 23 bases and held a .444 batting average with .581 slugging percentage. He led the team with 37 runs scored, five triples and drove in 26 RBI.
Outfield: Jack Swiney, senior, Parkway West
The power-hitting outfielder led the Longhorns with a .910 slugging percentage. He led Parkway West in runs (30), RBI (30), home runs (5) and doubles (14). He posted a .487 batting average and helped the Longhorns to 15 wins.
Utility: Cole Juelfs, senior, Valmeyer
The senior shortstop and right-handed pitcher helped Valmeyer to a second-place finish in Class 1A. He held a .382 batting average with a .500 slugging percentage and drove in 35 runs while scoring a team-high 55 runs. He also held a 5-1 record on the mound with a 1.91 ERA in 36 2-3 innings pitched.
Utility: Jeremy Schork, sophomore, Summit
The home run king of the area helped lead the Falcons to the district championship. Schork led the area with 13 home runs and posted a .398 batting average and a .955 slugging percentage. He also led the Falcons with 47 RBI.
In this Series
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