08/11/2019 11:54 AM -
Crestwood, Ill. – Aug. 12, 2019 – In retrospect, it may have been a difficult season for the Crestwood Panthers, who not only missed the MCL Playoffs, but finished with a modest 11-29 record. That being said, however, the team regularly displayed flashes of success, and had numerous individual stars amongst their ranks. Case in point, on Monday morning, Reggie Brock Jr. (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.), Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.), Ethan Soderna (Ohio Wesleyan University / Chicago, Ill.), and Eddie Wilkins (University of Illinois-Springfield / Braidwood, Ill.) were recognized for their outstanding performances throughout the season by being selected to the All-MCL Team.
To begin with Brock Jr., he once again put together a historic season in 2019, slashing an impressive .409/.462/.516, while adding 18 RBIs, 11 runs scored, and nine stolen bases. In the process, Brock Jr. also set franchise records in total hits, RBIs, and runs scored when combining his statistics across the past two seasons. This is Brock Jr.'s second consecutive All-MCL selection, as he continues to dominate while playing in the league.
As for Hilbrich, he did not make his Panthers debut until June 25th, yet once he joined the team, his bat became a staple in the starting lineup. Hilbrich set a franchise record in batting average (minimum 90 at-bats), hitting .426, while also pacing the team in RBIs with 20, and runs scored with 30. His nine stolen bases also tied for the team lead with Brock Jr. Although a late-comer to the Panthers, Hilbrich immediately made his presence known, and deservedly notched All-MCL honors.
On the mound, Crestwood's sparse pitching rotation was a well-documented issue, yet, when they had both Soderna and Wilkins on the mound, those once prominent problems became afterthoughts. Soderna proved to be the Panthers' most reliable pitcher, setting a single-season franchise record for innings pitched with 49.2. In that span, Soderna pitched to a sparkling 2.36 ERA, striking out 49 hitters in the process. Judging by this award, Soderna was not only one of the aces on the Panthers' pitching staff, but an ace across the entirety of the MCL.
For Crestwood, however, one cannot speak of aces without mentioning Eddie Wilkins' name. Wilkins set a plethora of franchise records in 2019, including career starts, career wins, career strikeouts, and single-season strikeouts. Overall, on the season, Wilkins posted a 3-2 record over 44.1 innings pitched, while adding a splendid 2.64 ERA and a league-leading 55 strikeouts. To make his season even more remarkable, Wilkins accounted for 27 percent of Panthers' victories, meaning that when he toed the rubber, the team had some of their best chances to win games.
Thus, although the Panthers' season did not end as planned, there were some eye-opening performances, and amazing individual success stories. Come next season, expect Crestwood to make more of a mark on the league, as in 2019, they most definitely had some of the talent to do so.