Winning has become a tradition for the O’Fallon Panther baseball program, and 2017 appears destined for another banner season if the first two weeks of the season are any indication.
The diamond Panthers currently are 7-1 after their successful southern trip to compete in the Louisville Slugger Select tournament in Atlanta last weekend. The OTHS squad roared to wins over Ensworth, Tennessee; DeMatha High School (Maryland); Savannah Christian (Georgia) and Cullman High School (Alabama) to win their first Select Classic championship.
The series of diamond triumphs by the Panthers was fueled by a combination of stellar pitching, solid defense and timely hitting. One of the premier players producing these results was senior Jordan Richardson, whose four-game performance garnered him the tourney’s MVP award.
“Jordan has had an outstanding start to the season,” said veteran OTHS coach Jason Portz. “He has worked very hard to put himself in the position he is in. He was a key contributor for us offensively during the tournament and was a very deserving recipient of the tournament Most Valuable Player trophy.”
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The O’Fallon senior, the son of John and Patricia Richardson, batted a sizzling .357 during the tourney and drove in four runs. He produced two game-winning hits — the first against DeMatha High School and the second in the championship game against Cullman, Alabama
“I’ve been playing baseball ever since I could hold up a bat and have never stopped,” Richardson said. “This sport gives me a place to go and forget about everything, except for the next pitch. Also, baseball has given me the opportunity to be a role model for younger players trying to learn the game. So many things have been a part of my success including coaches, teammates pushing me and sacrifices made by my family to let me play the sport I love.
“Baseball specifically has taught me many life lessons,” added the Panther senior. “It has also made me very humble, because you never know when something will be taken from you. If you get big-headed or cocky, whatever it is can be yanked right from you. Playing sports gives you a much better perspective on life in general.”