For the Hollister baseball seniors, this year’s run to the state final four has been a long time coming.
“We’ve played together since we were 11 years old, me and the other three boys,” said senior Landon Richards. “And so this has been our dream since day one.”
Now, it’s a dream come true for Landon and his three senior teammates Colby Teaster, Konner Hatfield and Cole Jones.
While it’s great now, the path to reaching the final four wasn’t always easy.
“These seniors have been through a lot from heartbreak sophomore year to no season last year,” said Hollister Head Coach Trent Oxenreider.
As sophomores, the Tigers lost in the district championship game to Springfield Catholic.
So it was fitting when those same players were able to beat Catholic in the state quarterfinals last week.
“It means a lot,” said senior Konner Hatfield. “[Before the game], our coaches put up a picture from O-Zone of [Catholic] celebrating on our field and that got us pumped for this game.”
It was motivation for the entire team, led by the seniors who had four runs batted in and included Richards and Jones as the pitcher-catcher battery.
“They’ve been our dudes all year, and we lean on them and those young kids lean on them,” Oxenreider said.
That may be true, but to make it this far, the seniors have also leaned on their younger teammates, like Malachi Henry, who closed out the quarterfinal win.
“When you put a sophomore in to close out a game in the seventh inning to go to the final four, they didn’t blink an eye,” Oxenreider said. “They trust those kids, those younger kids and the younger kids trust them.”
“I’m just completely proud of everyone,” Konner said. “We have a bunch of sophomores, a bunch of freshmen playing and they’re just pulling through.”
For their leadership and trust in their teammates, the Hollister seniors are this week’s Athletes of the Week.