If they ever need reminders about the proud baseball tradition at Edwardsville High School, current Tigers can check out the two state championship signs or all the other signs of success at Tom Pile Field and inside their clubhouse.
“The bar is definitely set high here,” said senior pitcher-infielder Andrew Yancik, one of the team’s top returning players. “Legacy is everything here, baseball has such deep roots. We definitely take pride in everything we do.”
Coach Tim Funkhouser played on one of the Tigers’ two state title teams. Since Funkhouser became varsity coach in 1999, Edwardsville has won 12 regional titles, seven sectional championships and advanced to the state tournament five times.
That includes a second-place finish at the 2002 Class AA state tourney. Now in his 19th season, Funkhouser’s clubs are 550-140 with the Tigers winning 30 or more games 10 times.
The program also has a streak of 37 years in a row with at least 20 victories.
“It’s a lot to live up to, but with all the coaching we have — phenomenal coaching — they make it happen and we always end up doing well,” said Yancik, who threw four hitless innings in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Joliet Catholic.
The Tigers (2-0) were 29-8 last season, losing to Belleville West in the regional championship. Funkhouser’s varsity lineup card Saturday included 32 players, a sure sign some questions are to be answered for a team PrepBaseballReport.com ranks 14th in the state and second in the metro-east behind No. 9 O’Fallon.
“We tell our guys it’s a competitive world,” Funkhouser said. “A lot of these guys haven’t logged a ton of varsity innings. We’ve got maybe a core of five that did last year, but even some of those guys were part-time (players) or injuries prevented them from being full-time.
We don’t have seven weeks of spring training, so we’re going to have to figure it out on the fly. With our pitchers I think we have a lot of different guys that can mix and match and do different things. Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser
“We’ll learn a lot about our club and we don’t have conference games right away, so we’re able to do different things. It’s fun to have different guys that can do different things, but it’s a big puzzle when you try to put it together.”
Among the top returning seniors are second baseman and Lincoln Trail recruit Joel Quirin (.357, five doubles, one homer, 32 RBIs), center fielder and Wabash Valley recruit Dylan Burris (.448, seven doubles, seven RBIs) and shortstop-pitcher and Central Missouri recruit Kade Burns (.295, two homers, 12 RBIs).
The top two senior pitchers are 6-foot-3 right-hander Andrew Frank (4-2, 3.39 ERA) and Yancik, a McKendree University recruit who was 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings as a junior.
Other pitching hopefuls include seniors Burns, Isaac Garrett, Dan Picchiotti, Tyler Lewis and Zach Seavers along with juniors Caleb Strohmeier and Reid Hendrickson. Sophomore Grant Schaefer is also pushing for mound time.
“We don’t have seven weeks of spring training, so we’re going to have to figure it out on the fly,” Funkhouser said of his early decision-making process. “With our pitchers I think we have a lot of different guys that can mix and match and do different things.”
Freshman Drake Westcott, who finished second at a national-level home run showcase and is already drawing Division I recruiting interest, has been starting at first base and hitting cleanup. Westcott homered in his first varsity game Friday.
“Drake’s a good player and he works hard,” Burris said. “We’re just trying to make sure that he keeps a good head on him and stays humble.”
Senior Daniel Reed is another option at first, among others.
Hendrickson, Reed, junior Cole Hampton and sophomore Jack Cooper are among the options at third. Senior Will Messer (.419, seven RBIs), junior Collin Elvers and sophomore Dalton Wallace are available as catchers.
The outfield includes Burris in center along with Messer, Yancik, Picchiotti and sophomores Joe Copeland, Cooper and Gavin Lyday.
The Tigers lost several big bats from the lineup, including Jake Garella (Saint Louis University), Collin Clayton (John A. Logan College), Tyler Stamer (McHenry College), Cole Cimarroli (Quincy) and Cole Hansel (McHenry College). Graduated pitcher Trey Riley is at Oklahoma State.
“I told our guys don’t panic if you play two innings the first game, you might be our five-hole hitter the last 20 games,” Funkhouser said. “You never know.”