Kolby Schulte has been selected once already to the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association All-State Team.
He didn’t want to go backwards his senior year.
“Being all-state was a goal coming into the year because I was selected last year,” said the Cougars’ slick-fielding shortstop. “You always want to believe you’re getting better, and you don’t want to slide. I’m really proud of it.”
Schulte improved in almost every statistical category since his junior year. He got word of his repeat selection to the IBCA Class 2A first-team from his coach Kevin Crask on May 31.
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Schulte batted .441 with 12 doubles, two triples, a home run and 29 runs batted in. He struck out just three times in 117 plate appearances and walked 13 times for an on-base percentage of .504.
His glove at short was just as reliable. In 79 total chances, he made just four errors for a .949 fielding percentage.
Team success followed. The Cougars started the season with a red-hot 13 wins in a row. The day after the Associated Press listed them No. 1 in Illinois Class 2A and the week they reached No. 9 on the Max Preps nationwide poll, Central fell 7-3 to Columbia.
“I don’t feel like we ever hit a brick wall or slowed down,” Schulte said. “We just started playing some really good teams. We were on a pace that was going to be really hard to keep up over 30 or so games.”
The season ended for Central earlier than they expected, however. Schulte said the Cougars’ 1-0 loss to Piasa Southwestern in the Vandalia sectional semifinals was a heartbreaker.
“Honestly, I was really confident that we’d make a run (at the state tournament),” he said. “It was a shorter season than any of us wanted, but they beat us. You can’t do much about it now but look back on a great season and look forward to what’s ahead.”
For Schulte, that means two years with coach Neil Fiala at Southwestern Illinois College and, he hopes, a Division-I offer.
“Coach Fiala knows a lot of people,” said Schulte, who was offered a scholarship to play at McKendree. “Ultimately, I’d love to play D-I. If I play well at SWIC, you never know where that could take me.”