3 Mustangs, coach honored

MIDDLEBURG – The Heartland Athletic Conference baseball all-star selections and individual awards for the 2013 season have Midd-West well-represented in Division I, with three all-stars and a top individual award.

Infielder Colton Keister was the lone Mustang to be picked for the first team. The senior committed only five errors while batting .360 and driving in nine runs. Keister also pitched well and picked up five key wins while toeing the rubber for Midd-West.

“Keister was a great team leader this year,” Midd-West coach Ron Flood said. “He hit leadoff for us even though he wasn’t that type of hitter. He did what he could to help us win.”

A duo of juniors was named to the second team: outfielder Shane Connahan and catcher Luke Zimmerman.

Connahan, who was a first team all-star each of the previous two seasons, had a down year at the plate. He battled only .269 after coming into the season with a lifetime average near .500. His defense when patrolling the outfield grass was a reason he was selected for the all-star nod.

“He had a good year defensively,” Flood said. “With the bat, he did not hit up to his potential. He was still a player who helped us win.”

Zimmerman was a two-way star for Midd-West this year with both his bat and glove being consistently involved in the Mustangs’ postseason appearance. He batted .325 with two home runs, while plating 11 runners.

“Luke was a wall behind home plate,” Flood said. “He kept runners from trying to steal on us, which is huge in high school ball. He also could pick up key hits when we needed them.”

Flood also was honored as the veteran was named the Coach of the Year. It was the first time he had won the award in his four years at Midd-West. The McClure native had also coached eight years at West Snyder before the district’s merger of its two high schools, and served as an assistant in the early years of the Mustang program.

“I was really pleased to receive that award. I really didn’t expect it after we finished tied for third in the division,” Flood admitted.

Midd-West finished 6-8 in conference play. However, the Mustangs 13-9 mark this season after a 3-17 performance the previous season was an improvement fellow coaches obviously appreciated.

“An award like this is obviously one for the team, not a coach,” Flood said. “Good play by my guys resulted in me getting recognized.”

The biggest difference Flood noticed from his players over the past two seasons was their confidence.

“Last year they didn’t think they could win close games. This season I could see they believed they were in every game,” he said. “At that point, they really made making districts a goal. They wanted to play in the playoffs.”

The Mustangs reached that goal and advanced to the District 4 Class AAA finals at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport. Their season came to a heartbreaking end with a 1-0 loss in extra innings to Jersey Shore

“It was a good season,” Flood said. “They played hard and I was proud of them.”