Highland Conference recogizes Wildcats

Justin O'Dell
Justin O'Dell

EVART — Evart’s baseball team tied with perennial state power Beal City at 9-1 this season to claim a share of the Wildcats’ first Highland Conference title since 1996.

The Wildcats had their share of standouts including several who earned all-league honors, which were recently announced.

Honorees, who also received all-district honors, were Danny Witbeck, Billy Conklin, Garrett Johnson, Carter Pritchard and Ty Sochocki.

Witbeck was a sophomore pitcher/infielder who was 9-1 with 83 strikeouts, nine walks, and 21 hits given up in 62 innings. He batted .285 with 38 runs scored, 27 hits and 18 RBIs.

“Danny pitched two no-hitters, including the district championship game, when he had 10 strikeouts with his only loss to state-ranked Division 2 Belding (2-0), and he only gave up a hit in that game,” Wildcat coach Josh Johnson said. “He had a perfect conference record highlighted by a 1-0 victory of Beal City and earned all-conference and all-district and earned the team Wildcat award.”

Conklin, a senior infielder, scored 32 runs with 42 hits, 44 RBIs, seven doubles, three triples, one home run, 17 stolen bases and a .466 batting average.

“Billy is our offensive leader,” Johnson said. “He is a tough guy to get out. He has power and speed. He is really tough. He is all-conference and all-district. He is our team’s offensive MVP.”

Johnson, a senior catcher, scored 25 runs and had 31 hits, 25 RBIs, three doubles, two triples, a .337 batting average and a .989 fielding percentage, and committed two errors.

“Garrett was our defensive MVP,” Johnson said. “He caught 35 of 36 games for us. He gave up only six stolen bases all season. He caught for two of the top pitchers in our league every night. Garrett was all-conference and all-district.”

Pritchard, a senior outfielder, scored 34 runs and had 38 hits, 25 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a .373 batting average and one error.

“Carter was amazing in center,” Johnson said. “He ran down anything hit in the air. He was the leader of a young outfield. His .373 batting average was third on our team.”

Sochocki, a junior infielder, scored 36 runs and had 44 hits, 26 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and a .415 batting average.

“Ty was very solid at short for us,” Johnson said. “He gets great reps every day. He never takes a practice, game or pitch off. He is tough.”