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Pecatonica peaks atop the Six Rivers East
McKeon, Johnson POY; Strommen COY

By Natalie Dillon

BLANCHARDVILLE — For the ninth straight season, Pecatonica won the Six Rivers East Conference (10-1) and had the Player of the Year on its roster — this season, there were two of them. Jameson Johnson and Tyler McKeon were co-Players of the Year, and head coach Jim Strommen was tabbed Coach of the Year for the fifth straight season.

Johnson, a two-time Player of the Year in the Six Rivers, led his team in hits (30), doubles (8), home runs (5), RBIs (34) and batting average (.492). He also scored 30 runs, drew 11 walks and stole 11 bases. On the bump, Johnson pitched 24 innings with 38 strikeouts. He posted a 2-1 record with a 1.75 ERA. 

McKeon was Pecatonica’s No. 1 pitcher in innings (37), wins (5), strikeouts (61) and ERA (1.70). At the plate, he led the team in runs scored (32), triples (2) and stolen bases (20). McKeon was 25-for-61 at the plate for a .410 average, hitting seven doubles and one home run. He also drew 11 walks.

Strommen completed his 45th season at the helm for the Vikings. He has won 19 conference championships, 12 regional titles, one sectional title and one state runner-up finish. During the current nine-year conference championship run, Strommen has been named the Coach of the Year each year it was recognized. In his 45-year career, Strommen has compiled a 663-229 record (.743), which is just two wins shy of Royall’s Joe Vitcenda as the winningest all-time coach in Wisconsin baseball.

Four other Vikings were selected first team all-conference — Carson Kurschner, Elijah Knutson, Lukas Rue and Max Steele. 

Outfielder Kurschner was one of six players to hit over .300, boasting a .310 average. He was 18-for-58 at the plate with three doubles and a triple. He scored 21 runs and drove in another 15. He also stole 11 bases.

Catcher Knutson had the second-highest batting average on the team at .429. He was 18-for-42 with seven doubles and one triple. He drove in 16 runs and led the team with 14 walks.

Rue also hit over .300 at a .311 clip. He tallied 14 hits and 12 runs scored. In the circle, Rue posted a 3-0 record with a 2.25 ERA. He struck out 17 batters in 18 2/3 innings and walked nine.

Infielder Steele was 14-for-49 for a .286 batting average. He scored 10 runs and drove in 8. He also drew 7 walks.

Other players selected to the first team all-conference include Argyle-Black Hawk’s Max Godfrey and Will Helfvogt, and Monticello-Albany’s Brayden Bakken.

Godfrey, listed as utility, led his team in runs scored (13), walks (11), hit by pitches (2) and stolen bases (13). He was 15-for-43 at the plate, hitting .349. On the bump, Godfrey collected ABH’s only two wins of the season and posted a 2.57 ERA. He pitched 49 innings, striking out 95 batters and walking 39.

Helfvogt hit at a .615 clip, going 24-for-39 with five doubles. He also led the team in RBIs (9). Helfvogt scored 10 runs, drew 9 walks and stole 12 bases. On the mound, he pitched 22 1/3 innings, giving up 28 earned runs. He struck out 21 and walked 29. 

Bakken, listed as utility, finished 12-for-49 at the plate for a .245 batting average. He drew a team-high 19 walks and stole 12 bases. He was the most used pitcher for the Ponies, giving 40 2/3 innings. He gave up 29 earned runs for a 4.99 ERA with 38 strikeouts.

Barneveld had the remaining six selections on first team.

Argyle-Black Hawk’s Ike Waage and Lane Jenson earned honorable mention, as did Cody Pryce and Tyler Constantini from Monticello-Albany.

The Sportsmanship Team consisted of Godfrey, Monticello-Albany’s Nate Stokstad and Pecatonica’s Gavyn Loomis.