Athlete Spotlight – Hackstadt ready to lead Baseball Panthers

OTHS Senior Chase Hackstadt is headed into his fourth Varsity Baseball season, and is looking forward to his senior year as a catcher. Head Coach Jason Portz has no doubt about Hackstadt’s abilities  on and off the field.

“Chase has been a four year varsity player for us. This says a lot about the type of player and person he is. We don’t get many kids who come through our program and are able to become a varsity player as a freshman. This is my 21st year coaching baseball and I would rank Chase at the top of the list with a few others when it comes to being a representative of our program and community. Chase is an outstanding student, has incredible work ethic and is simply one of the finest people I have had come through our program. The baseball ability takes care of itself. Chase has worked really hard to become a quality player, but the intangibles and leadership skills that he possess is what makes him the person that he is to our program,” said Portz.

“He handles our pitchers extremely well, he’s like another coach on the field. He understands what coaches are thinking by the way we call pitches and handle hitters, he’s able to help in practice and make our younger kids better. He’s going to have a great year, no matter what his numbers end up as. He’s going to lead on the field and help improve our program. That’s what really matters,” Portz continued.

The 6’3 Hackstadt began playing in first grade, and he said he remembers going out on the field with his older brother and his dad. He began playing in school while at Fulton Junior High. He chose to be a catcher for many reasons.

“I love it because there’s so much you control back there. You see the whole field, you get to make calls and everything. You’re really in every play so there’s never an off moment. You get a lot of chances to succeed, too,” said Hackstadt.

“He caught 40 games last year, is an outstanding blocker and receiver and a 2.1 thrower,” Portz said.

Off the field, Hackstadt is an ace in the classroom and has earned a full academic scholarship to Missouri State University, and he does not plan to play college ball.

Looking ahead at his senior year behind the plate, Hackstadt said “I’m pretty confident. I’ve worked pretty hard, and so have the rest of these guys. We killed it in the off season, and I’m really looking forward to a successful year.”

McKendree Baseball adds more O’Fallon area talent

Conner Breyer signs a letter of intent to attend McKendree University with his family at his side.  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

Conner Breyer signs a letter of intent to attend McKendree University with his family at his side.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

O’FALLON – McKendree University Head Baseball Coach Danny Jackson is a Metro East native and understands the kind of baseball talent the region has to offer. He is making it a focal point of his recruiting strategy to bring in that kind of talent.

The Bearcats added two more Metro East athletes on Friday when Connor Breyer and Cody Crowder, both of O’Fallon, signed to play in Lebanon.

Breyer and Crowder both played for Southern Illinois Batter’s Box High School Travel Showcase Team, based at the Family Sportsplex in Belleville off of Mascoutah Avenue.

The team played in several showcase tournaments around the country at colleges like Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Missouri, and Saint Louis, as well as in tournaments in Florida and Georgia.

One team from Georgia in particular that the showcase team played against featured 13 NCAA Division I signees, including six commits to the Southeastern Conference, widely considered the best baseball conference in College Baseball.

“Both of those guys, Connor and Cody, were both facing and hitting well against some of the best pitching and defense of any high school players in the country,” a Batter’s Box coach told the Weekly. “Cody played Right Field and didn’t commit an error all season, so it just gives you part of an idea of how good both of these guys were.”

Breyer and Crowder stood out on a team full of college-bound talent both thanks to their defense in the field, but also to their outstanding seasons at the plate. Both players ranked in the top four on the team in batting average.

Cody Crowder signs his letter of intent to attend McKendree University with his parents, Tia and Derek. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

Cody Crowder signs his letter of intent to attend McKendree University with his parents, Tia and Derek. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

For both Crowder and Breyer, the decision to attend school and play baseball together was an easy one, as the two have been best friends off-field since the age of 11 when Cody moved to O’Fallon from Alaska.

“Cody moved into my neighborhood when we were little kids and we’ve been best friends ever since,” Breyer said. “He’s always been there for me and to know that he’ll be there for me as we begin this next journey is something that was really important to me.”

Breyer plans to find a spot on the right side of the infield at either Shortstop or Third Base, while Crowder figures to patrol an outfield position.

“McKendree was kind of an easy decision for me because my mom works there and I know I’m going to get to play with Conner,” Crowder said. “I had a good connection with the coaches, and that just made the decision even easier.”

Cody is the son of Derek and Tia Crowder of O’Fallon. Conner is the son of Kristy Breyer of O’Fallon and Nick Breyer of Texas.


Summer Baseball continues to win against tough competition

Jared Dalonzo singles against Mascoutah (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Jared Dalonzo singles against Mascoutah (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

O’FALLON – O’Fallon Gold Summer Baseball team continued its romp through their schedule this past week, grabbing a pair of wins against tough competition. The Panthers knocked off the Rhino North 18U team 9-8 in what turned out to be a whacky, high scoring affair.

The normally stingy Panther pitching staff got roughed up on a day where the ball seemed to really drive, but fortunately for the Blue and Gold, the bats were there to pick them up. Three different hitters, Caleb Shelton, Quinn Lowery, and Joe Guithues contributed two hits apiece in winning an affair where every last bit of offense was needed.

Mark Hoerner up to bat  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Mark Hoerner up to bat
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

A few days later, the Panthers returned to the diamond to take on the Leathernecks 18U team. The dominant O’Fallon pitching that had defined the summer season so far returned to the mound in the form of star pitcher Jasyn Miller, who gave his bullpen a day off en route to a 7-1 complete game effort.

Another piece of good news from that contest was the offense, which rode the bats of Logan Boente and Joe Guithues. Guithues remained hot, adding three more hits to raise his two game total to five, while Boente also went 3-3. The win moved O’Fallon Gold to 23-8.

Another Milestone

Pictured from left: Bossart, Drew Anderson, Will Morris, and Victor Arano pose after tossing Clearwater's first no-hitter in a decade  (Submitted Photo)

Pictured from left: Bossart, Drew Anderson, Will Morris, and Victor Arano pose after tossing Clearwater’s first no-hitter in a decade
(Submitted Photo)

2011 OTHS graduate and OTHS Baseball Alum Austin Bossart continues to impress within the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Bossart, who was recently promoted to High-A Clearwater, caught his first professional no-hitter, when three Thrashers pitchers combined to hurl 9 hitless innings against the St. Lucie Mets. It was the first 9 inning no-hitter for Clearwater in a decade.

Highly touted Phillies pitching prospect Drew Anderson made the start in his Florida League debut, while Will Morris and Victor Arano finished the feat in relief. Anderson’s day was ended early after a rain delay forced Clearwater Manager Chris Tuby to pull the prized prospect.

“This is the first one [I’ve caught], and this is a pretty special moment for the team. This was a team no-hitter, and a team effort, and was really awesome to be a part of,” Bossart told

Levin Takes
McKendree Job

   2009 Alum and current OTHS Summer Gold coach Jon Levin announced on Thursday that he will be joining McKendree University as an assistant coach for the Bearcat baseball program.

Levin said he can’t wait to get started and will join current head coach and former Edwardsville Tiger Danny Jackson’s staff in Lebanon this coming season.

baseball generic

Summer Baseball heads into holiday break with win


Harrison honored; Bossart advances in Phillies organization

baseball genericO’FALLON – OTHS Summer baseball got their Independence Day break off to a roaring start on Tuesday with a 6-5 win over the Easton Tigers.

Logan Boente, Heath Zuber, and Jared Dalonzo had two hits apiece, while Garrett Herring had just enough on the mound to get the Panthers to victory.

The win moved O’Fallon Gold to 20-5 for the summer campaign. The team had the rest of the week off going into the Fourth of July holiday.

Harrison Honored

Recent OTHS Grad and Southern Illinois University commit Bradley Harrison was named to the All-USA Illinois Baseball 1st team. The 2016 graduate was the only O’Fallon athlete on the list.

Bossart Moving Up

2011 OTHS Grad Austin Bossart was promoted to high Class A Clearwater Thrashers within the Philadelphia Phillies organization. The catcher has been lauded for his defensive prowess and steadily improving bat. The Penn graduate had been playing for Low A Lakewood

Honors and awards handed out at Panthers baseball banquet

Brad Harrison earned the Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player awards. Coach Jason Portz said, "He's not a great player, he's a great teammate." (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Brad Harrison earned the Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player awards. Coach Jason Portz said, “He’s not a great player, he’s a great teammate.” (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

The Panthers baseball team recently held their annual banquet, honoring players and coaches and handing out awards.

During speeches, the coaches reminisced on the season and recognized every member of the team – players, family, and supporters. After the food and recognitions, each senior gave a short speech with their personal thank you’s and recognitions.

The event was capped off by a video compilation of pictures taken throughout the season.

O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales

Panthers hold baseball kids camp

Brad Harrison teaches kids how to warm up their bodies and their bats. (O'Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales)

Brad Harrison teaches kids how to warm up their bodies and their bats.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales)

Last week, past and present members of the OTHS Panther Baseball program coached 60 fourth through ninth graders on the fundamentals of pitching and batting.

Brad Harrison and Dillon Weiss have helped run the camp for the past four years. Weiss and Harrison both agreed that the most important part of this camp is just making sure the kids have fun. In addition to the fun and games, Weiss says that the most important thing to him is “just being able to make an impact on these kids; knowing that what I tell these kids, they’re going to take home.”

Marveling over getting the opportunity to work with these kids, Harrison said, “You see them here, now and in six or seven years they’ll be where we are, playing high school ball.”

Kids get into the swing of things before the group warm up.  (O'Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales)

Kids get into the swing of things before the group warm up.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Becca Jones-Scales)

OTHS Baseball

Panthers Baseball wins Regional Title

OTHS Baseball

The Panthers Baseball team became regional champions on Saturday, defeating the Alton Redbirds 2-1. Bradley Harrison was a major part of the offense, reaching base twice. Harrison had a home run in the fifth inning. Additionally, he struck out eight Redbird batters. He ended his day allowing only one earned run, four hits, and two walks over seven innings. The Panthers continue their season when they take on Belleville West on Wednesday, June 1, in the Sectional Semi-Finals at Tom Pile Field in Edwardsville at 4:30 p.m.

OTHS Baseball

Panthers clench SWC championship

O'Fallon Weekly Sports
OTHS Baseball

Hayden Schaefer, number 25, drives the ball deep to center to bring in two runs during the first inning against Granite City.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

The O’Fallon Varsity Baseball team won the SWC Championship this week with convincing wins over Edwardsville and Granite City.

The Panthers sent their ace, Bradley Harrison to the mound to face Edwardsville and their 11-game win streak, last week Tuesday. Harrison gave the host Tigers a glimmer of hope as he struggled in the first inning before settling down to complete the 11 – 0 shutout with 10 strike outs and two walks. The win improves his record to 10-0 and lowers his ERA to 0.21.

O’Fallon scored two in the first inning and was held at bay until they were able to break the game open the fifth inning with five runs, followed by four in the sixth.

OTHS Baseball

Junior Joe Guithues slides into home against Granite City.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

“The score doesn’t indicate it; but, they (Edwardsville) are a really good team,” said Varsity Head Coach Jason Portz. “Bradley got out of some jams early and got some help from his defense behind him.” Harrison helped himself by going 3-4 with a triple and 2 RBIs to lead the Panthers’ offense.

O’Fallon needed to beat Granite City at home on Thursday to assure them a share of the SWC Championship for the sixth time in the past seven years.

The Panthers scored all 11 runs in the first three innings to put the game out of reach quickly. Max Schaefer pitched another gem going the distance, giving up only one hit and no walks and struck out two. He also pitched two perfect innings along the way to improving to 8 – 1 on the season.

They put some icing on the Championship cake with a 8 – 1 win over host Collinsville on Friday night. The win gave the Panthers the outright SWC Championship.

OTHS Baseball

Senior Dillon Weiss takes a swing during Thursday’s game against Granite City. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

Logan Boente improved his record to 5 – 1 as he went the distance. He allowed only one earned run on three hits. Hayden Schaefer was perfect at the plate, going 3 – 3 including a double that scored the first two runs in the second inning.

The Panthers (28 -3, 12-1) will play again on Tuesday and Thursday, when the host neighboring Belleville West and Waterloo. They will travel to Centralia on Friday and Triad on Saturday.

OTHS Baseball

Panthers’ Baseball wins St. Judes Classic in dominant fashion

OTHS Baseball

Max Schaeffer was dominant as he no-hit the Railsplitters. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

O’Fallon won their sixth straight St. Judes Classic Tournament this past weekend, dominating the three teams that they faced scoring 33 runs and giving up just one.

Their first round opponent on Friday was Valmeyer (IL). The Pirates are no slouch of a team. They are ranked number one in their region for small schools in Illinois and have only one loss in their conference. The Panthers, however, weren’t worried at all. They jumped to an early 7–0 lead in the first inning started by an RBI single by Jared Dalonzo and an RBI double by Bradley Snyder. A fielder’s choice followed by a wild pitch added two more runs. an RBI single by Jordan Richardson, an RBI triple by Josh Gibson, and an RBI double by Dillon Weiss rounded out the first inning scoring. Camden Bauer had an RBI double in the second to push the score to 8–0.

Dominic Smiley scored in the fourth inning off a triple by Richardson. Weiss knocked him in with his third hit of the night to make the score 10–0.

Max Schaeffer shut the Pirates down in the fifth inning to end the shortened game. He struck out two and allowed only one hit in the shutout. But he was saving his best performance for the championship game on Saturday.

Next up for the Panthers was neighboring Mascoutah in the Tournament’s semi-final game. The Panthers scored early and often again in this game, too, leading 8–0 after three innings. The Indians did manage a run in the fourth; but O’Fallon answered in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI from Weiss.

The final score was 9–1. Sophomore Logan Boente got the win for the Panthers as he gave up just the one earned run on six hits and a walk over seven innings. He also struck out seven Indians’ batters. Jordan Richardson provided most of the offensive with five RBIs on just one hit.

Camden Bauer

Camden Bauer ducks away from a pitch in the Championship game against Lincoln. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

The championship game put the Panthers against Lincoln (IL). The Railsplitters are another good team from up around the Peoria area.

Max Schaeffer saved his best stuff for this game. He was perfect through three and two-thirds innings before an error in the fourth gave Lincoln their lone baserunner for the game. He went on to complete the no-hitter striking out three and not allowing a walk.

While Schaeffer was keeping the Railsplitters guessing, the O’Fallon offense jumped all over the opponent’s pitching. They scored 10 runs in the first three innings of the game to put it out of reach. The Panthers forced the starting pitcher out in the first third of the inning after scoring four runs starting with an RBI single by Bradley Snyder. Camden Bauer had an RBI, followed by an RBI double by Jordan Richardson and a two-run single by Dillon Weiss. They added three in the second and again in the third.

O’Fallon would add four in the bottom half of the fourth, showing great discipline at the plate, as the Railsplitters’ pitchers had trouble with their control and loaded the bases with walks and then walked in two runs. Two more would cross the plate to make it 14-0 in favor of the Panthers. Schaeffer took the mound and closed out the game, getting the final batter from Lincoln to ground out.

“Our pitching was terrific,” said Varsity Head Coach Jason Portz. “Max was dialed in the whole tournament. And when you have someone like Dillon Weiss getting on base as often as he does in his leadoff role, we are going to have the opportunity to score a lot of runs.”

OTHS Baseball

Chase Hackstadt comes home as Jordan Richardson slides safely into third.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

Portz also liked the discipline that he hitters showed at the plate. “They do a good job being aggressive at the plate with those pitches in the strike zone while laying off those on the edge of the plate.”

Coach Portz also likes this tournament and the teams that play in it. “This is a good way for us to see different opponents and let loose a little and have fun and enjoy the game.”

The Panthers improved to 25–3 overall but have a tough conference game coming up on Tuesday at Edwardsville. O’Fallon is just one game ahead of them in the standings.

“They are a good opponent and are also highly ranked in the state. I expect them to give us everything that they have,” said Portz. First pitch is at 4:30 at Tom Pile Field.

Heath Zuber pitches against East St. Louis

Panthers pound East St. Louis

By Rich Hull
O’Fallon Weekly Sports

Heath Zuber pitches against East St. Louis

Heath Zuber fires one in for one of his six strikeouts in the game. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

The O’Fallon varsity baseball team exploded for nine runs in the second inning on their way to a 17 – 0 drubbing of the visiting Flyers, Thursday night. The win improves the team’s overall record to 22-3 and 9-1 in the SWC. It also moves the winning streak to 14 games.

The Panthers took an early lead in the first 1-0 on a SAC fly buy Sr. Bradley Snyder; but, also left the bases loaded at the end of the inning. One could already get the feeling that it was going to be a long night for the Flyers’ pitcher, Royce Mosley.

Jordan Richardson makes play at first

Jordan Richardson makes an easy play at first. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

They took the momentum from the first inning into the second when Sr. Dillon Weiss hit the first of his two doubles in the game to drive in the first two runs of the inning. Not to be outdone, soph. Jared Dalonzo followed with a double of his own to score Weiss. The scoring continued with RBIs from Snyder, Bradley Harrision and Camden Bauer. Jordan Richardson added a two-run double. Connor Breyer ended the scoring barrage with a RBI single.

Mark Horner versus East St Louis

Number 10 Mark Horner drives the ball into left field for a long out to end the first inning. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

Junior Heath Zuber had no problems with the Flyers’ hitters, allowing just one hit over his three innings of work.  He also struck out six and walked just two, as he improved his record to 2-0.

O’Fallon will host the O’Fallon-Triad St. Judes Crusader Classic this weekend, with their first round game on Friday night against Valmeyer. The games will be played at Blazier Field in the Community Park.

Joe Guithues vs Belleville East

Panthers baseball alone on top of conference

By Rich Hull
O’Fallon Weekly Sports

Sr. pitcher Bradley Harrison

Sr. pitcher Bradley Harrison pitched 12 strikeouts against Belleville East Tuesday night. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

The OTHS boys’ varsity baseball team is sitting alone at the top of the SWC after a 7 – 0 shutout of neighboring Belleville East, Tuesday night.

The Panthers struck for two runs in the first inning behind a two-out double by Jr. Joe Guithues. They got three more in the second with some help from the host Lancers. The Lancers committed two errors in the inning, which helped the single by Sr. Dillon Weiss and RBI single by Soph. Jared Dalonzo. Dalonzo would reach base three times and score two runs to go with the RBI.

Sr. pitcher Bradley Harrison (9 – 0) wouldn’t need any more run support than that; as he cruised to a 12 strikeout night.

“He had good command of his pitches tonight,” said Head Varsity Coach Jason Portz. “He had excellent placement of his curve and was putting his fastball on the outside part of the plate. He was dominate.”

O’Fallon would score twice more in the fifth inning. There were two outs and Harrison chopped one to second for what seemed to be a routine play to end the inning; but, the second baseman booted the ball and Harrison legged it out to beat the throw to first.

“He hustles on every play,” said Portz. “That’s the type of player he is. He gives his best effort on every play.”

Joe Guithues vs Belleville East

Junior Jordan Richardson makes a play at first. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Rich Hull)

The win improves the Panthers’ record to 21 – 3 overall and 8 – 1 in the league, a game ahead of Edwardsville; and, two games ahead of both Belleville West and Alton. Their next game is at East St. Louis on Thursday night at 4:30.

Junior Max Schaefer

Panthers come up big after back to back losses to defeat Chaminade

Junior Max Schaefer

Junior Max Schaefer allowed no hits in the first inning Thursday against the Kahoks.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Becca Jones-Scales)

O’Fallon got on the board early on Thursday against Collinsville with a one run lead in the first inning thanks to senior Dillon Weiss. The Kahoks struck back in the second inning with a run to tie the game and took over the lead with two runs in the fourth. Unable to come back, the Panthers fell to Collinsville 4-2 in their first conference loss of the season.

It was a similar story on Friday for the Panthers when they hosted Naperville Central.  Senior Camden Bauer was the first to score on Friday. Bauer scored after junior Jordan Richardson was walked with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Richardson’s walk was the third walked batter of the inning for Naperville Central Pitcher Ryan Elermann. In the top of the fourth inning Naperville brought in two runs and added two more in the seventh for a 4-1 finish.

Despite losing two in a row, head coach Jason Portz was not disappointed in his team.

“We have played a lot of games at the start of the season. Our guys started dragging a bit and we are looking forward to getting back into practice this week. From time to time you will have some let downs but I was overall very happy with how we played last week,” said Portz

Although they dropped two games in a row, the Panthers managed to bounce back and battled their way to a gritty win over Chaminade on Saturday.

A two-run home run from Chaminade’s Zimmermann put the Panthers down by three runs heading into the bottom of the third inning. A pair of Chaminade infield errors made way for Panthers Jared Dalonzo and Bradley Snyder to score and cut the Red Devil’s lead to one run.

Tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Bradley Harrison hit a blast over the right field fence for a solo home run and the first Panther lead of the game.  A single into centerfield by Joe Guithues scored Bauer and was enough to cement O’Fallon with the 6-4 win.

“We played cleaner defense,” said Portz. “It was a really good effort while we were down by three early. Our kids battled and scratched their way back in to it.”

This week O’Fallon will host Belleville East in an anticipated Southwestern Conference matchup on Thursday. On Saturday the team will play at Civic Memorial.

“Belleville East is always a quality conference game and we’re looking forward to getting a leg up on them,” said Portz. “Hopefully we can continue to play good defense and pitching. We would like to see our offense break out a little bit and that will help us out.”