Top-10 Stories Of 2018: No. 9 Second Annual PBR Metro East Kickoff Classic

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Over the next few weeks, in addition to highlighting the Top 10 Player Profiles of 2018, we will also highlight the Top 10 Stories in Illinois during the 2018 calendar year.

Today, we’ll take a look at No. 9 Second Annual Metro East Kickoff Classic

The inaugural Metro East Kickoff Classic, which is a true kickoff to the spring season, took place in 2017 and was a big success, earning the No. 10 spot on the Top Stories Countdown of 2017. The 2017 event, featured 21 total teams, 19 of which were from Illinois. Five of the 19 Illinois teams were ranked in the Preseason Top 25.

The second annual Metro East Kickoff Classic, took place from March 14 - March 17, 2018 and one-upped the 2017 event. This year’s event featured 35 teams and games were played over five sites in the Metro East area. Heading into the event six teams were ranked in the Preseason Top 25, three of which were in the Top-5.

No. 1 Joliet Catholic
No. 3 O’Fallon
No. 4 Plainfield North
No. 8 Edwardsville
No. 11 Brother Rice
No. 21 Chatham-Glenwood

When the 2018 IHSA season was all said and done, eight of the participating teams wound up in the Final Power 25, including the No. 1 team in the state and Class 4A State Champion, Plainfield North.

Throughout the four-day event there were a number of noteworthy performances and games. The best individual performance of the event came from Edwardsville 1B Drake Westcott. As a result, Westcott, only a sophomore at the time, took home the BMO Harris Bank “Most Outstanding Player” award. In three games, Westcott, a Louisville commit, went 8-for-10, with three doubles, three runs, three RBI and a walk. In fact, every ball that he put in play on the weekend ended in a hit.

One of the best pitching matchups of the week took place on the first night when Chatham-Glenwood knocked off Columbia 6-4 in nine innings. Glenwood RHP Jacob Maton (Coastal Carolina commit; 2018) faced off against Columbia RHP Shane Wilhelm (Missouri commit; 2019). Maton, struck out 10 in five innings, while Wilhelm countered with seven strikeouts of his own in five innings.

Jacob Maton (3.14.18)

Another individual highlight was O'Fallon senior RHP Hayden Juenger. The Missouri State commit had two separate outings for O’Fallon on the week. Juenger was electric in his first outing, a one-inning appearance vs. Breese Mater Dei. He struck out the side behind a fastball that sat 91-92 mph. Got the win in his second appearance, a start against No. 11 Brother Rice. Juenger went five innings, scattered three hits, struck out three and ran his fastball up to 93 mph in that start.

Hayden Juenger (3.14.18)

The biggest upset of the event came on Saturday when then unranked Moline knocked off No. 1 Joliet Catholic by the score of 3-1, in a game that had a playoff atmosphere.

2018 Metro East Kickoff Classic Coverage

+ Kickoff Classic Preview
+ Game Scores and Recaps
+ Scout Blog
+ BMO Harris Bank "All-Kickoff Classic Team"

2019 Metro East Kickoff Classic Preview

Looking ahead, the Kickoff Classic is continuing to grow and the 2019 event looks like it will be the best yet. The event is set to take place March 13th-16th and currently has 47 teams, 12 more than this year, set to participate. The 2019 event will be well represented from teams all across the state of Illinois.

2019 Teams:

Southern Illinois Region:
Althoff, Alton, Belleville East, Belleville West, Benton, Breese Central, Carbondale, Civic Memorial, Columbia, Edwardsville, Effingham, Freeburg, Granite City, Harrisburg, Mascoutah, Mater Dei, Mt. Vernon, O’Fallon, Salem, Teutopolis, Triad

Central Illinois Region:
Champaign Central, Galesburg, Glenwood, Moline, Mt. Zion, Normal West, Pleasant Plains, Quincy Notre Dame, Rochester, St. Joseph-Ogden, Washington

Chicago/Northern Illinois Region:
Benet, Brother Rice, Coal City, Huntley, Joliet Catholic, Kaneland, Lockport, Marian Catholic, Mt. Carmel, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley, Oak Forest, Oak Park-River Forest, Oswego, Oswego East