Prep Baseball & Softball

Recent hot streak makes Collinsville a contender in SWC title chase

O'Fallon's Quinn Lowery slides safely into home in the Panthers' 13-3 win over Collinsville on April 3.
O'Fallon's Quinn Lowery slides safely into home in the Panthers' 13-3 win over Collinsville on April 3.

Collinsville baseball coach Pete Trapp didn't push the panic button when the Kahoks opened the Southwestern Conference season four weeks ago with consecutive losses to O'Fallon and Belleville East.

In a spring plagued by cold and wet playing conditions, Trapp knew it was just a matter of time before his team heated up and started to execute the way he thought it could.

During a recent two-week stretch that began April 5 with a 4-1 win over Belleville West and ended last Thursday with a 5-4 victory at rival Edwardsville, the Kahoks did almost everything right in a 10-game winning streak.

"I don't know if we really did anything different than we had earlier in the season. We just started to do things right consistently, and when you start doing that, things tend to turn your way," Trapp said. "We had some balls bounce our way, but the effort was there and mentally we were in the game.

"Our pitching was more solid and when the pitching wasn't as good, our offense picked us up and we scored some runs. When you put that combination together, you start winning some ballgames. That's what happened for us."

Collinsville (14-6, 6-3) followed the 10-game winning streak with a three-game slide that included a tough 7-6 loss to Edwardsville on Tuesday. The Kahoks got back on track Thursday, rallying for five runs in the seventh inning to beat Belleville East 6-4. Junior TJ Williams keyed the Kahoks comeback with a three-run home run.

Averaging just over seven runs per game, the Kahoks offense has been solid all season. Senior catcher Hunter Schrage is hitting .429 with 17 RBIs to lead the attack, while junior infielders Devon Bovinett (.414, one home run, 17 RBIs) and Noah Scrum (.407, one home run, 14 RBIs) have also been solid at the plate. Senior pitcher/outfielder Hunter Counton (.379, two home runs, 14 RBIs) has added some offense in addition to performing well on the mound.

Counton is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 32 innings.

"Our upperclassmen are swinging the bat well right now and our younger guys are stepping up when we've needed them too. Actually, we're pretty balanced right now," Trapp said. "We had a couple of games after the winning streak where we lost to Marion and Waterloo where we didn't play as well but as long as we keep our heads up and play hard we're going to be fine."

Bovinett (2-1, 2.15 ERA) and senior Braeden Lemp (3-1, 2.,52 ERA) have also been solid on the mound for Collinsville, which showed its ability to come from behind in four of its SWC wins.

Collinsville scored four runs in the seventh inning to beat Belleville West (4-1), then tallied 14 runs in the last three innings, erasing a 6-0 deficit, in winning against Alton.

Tied at 1 against Belleville East on Thursday, the Kahoks late-inning magic continued in a five-run seventh inning in the 6-4 SWC win.

"We're getting big hits when we need them and these kids have shown a lot of heart in the way they've shown the ability to not quit late in games and battle back," Trapp said. "This is a really good group of kids which makes this kind of success that we're having even more rewarding.

"They are doing the job in the classroom as well and we've got some seniors who are wanting to go on to play college baseball. We've got some good things going on right now with this baseball program."