Not only was the St. Charles West baseball team the best in the Gateway Athletic Conference North, but the Warriors might have been the second-best team in the GAC South by spring's end, too.■ A record season for Dane and Flip (Edwardsville Intelligencer)
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MU recruits on the All-GAC North baseball first team:
Pitcher: Andy Heifner, senior, St. Charles West
Heifner led the conference in strikeout average with 10.73 per game in 45 2/3 innings. His masterpiece was in the district semifinals against Zumwalt West when he
earned the win with a 3-hit shutout effort through four innings. The Jaguars averaged eight runs per game. He finished the season with a record of 4-2 and ERA of 1.69.
"The thing people don't realize about Andy is he's just been focusing on pitching the last couple of years," Rico said. "Going into his senior year, it was one of those things where we'd hope he'd do good and he came out and had an unbelievable year for us and was one of the most dominating pitchers in the conference. We knew whenever he was on the mound, we'd be in the ball game."
Outfielder: Brannon Champagne, senior, St. Charles West
One of the most decorated high school athletes to come out of St. Charles County in this decade, Champagne was the ideal leadoff hitter and center fielder. He hit .429 with 10 doubles, and led the conference in stolen bases (27) and runs (42). A proud athlete, with a rich family background in St. Charles, Champagne got two hits off Zumwalt South in his final game with the Warriors. Champagne and Heifner will be teammates at Mizzou this fall.
"He's made a name for himself the last four years," Rico said. "Honestly, he's been in the running for the Player of the Year all four years. He's just that all-around player that can change the outcome of a game all by himself. He can bunt his way on, steal a base, or hit one out to beat you. We went into the season knowing we'd need a lot out of our seniors, and Brannon took that in stride and was our table setter. What impressed me the most was his ability to be that spark."
The Edwardsville Tigers baseball team enjoyed much success in 2009 and a big reason for that was the two juggernaut bats nestled in the middle of their lineup.
Senior center fielder “Great” Dane Opel and junior third baseman Michael “Flip” Failoni roared into the EHS record books this season with their wicked offensive mastery.
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Opel swatted 18 homers to surpass Danny Jackson, the offensive benchmark at Edwardsville, who held the coveted record with 16 bombs in 2000.
As for RBIs, Jackson had been second on the list with 57, trailing Tim Hansel and Matt Bogle by one, as they had 58, but not anymore.
Opel is the new leader there with 62 RBIs while Failoni is perched directly behind
him with 61 runs driven in.
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“It’s going to play out through this entire summer,” said Opel. “We’ll see how I do and if they like me and that kind of stuff. They took me as a summer follow, so they can follow me throughout the summer obviously. I don’t know what they think I’m worth. If the offer is good enough to make me miss college then I guess I’ll sign, but I don’t know if I really see that happening. Either way it’s a good choice, but it’s just going to come down to which one works out better for me. I guess I’ll talk about it with my family and see which one works.”