Boonville senior Ben Horst isn’t one to be picky. But when it came time to select a school to play baseball for the next four years, Horst took a long hard look at several schools.
As it turned out, Horst decided last week after signing a national letter of intent to continue his baseball career at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.
Horst said he selected Columbia College because it was the best fit for him. “I really like Coach Munns and the rest of the coaching staff,” Horst said. “I also felt Columbia College was the best fit academically. I was also impressed with the campus and what the school has to offer socially.”
That’s good news for the Cougars. Columbia College coach Darren Munns said he is really excited to have Horst.
“Ben is a strong, physical kid and I think that part of it he will catch up to the college game very soon,” Munns said. “We see potential in him as a hitter and I think eventually he can be a run producer at our level. Also, just knowing Coach Smith and the program he runs. I have known Coach Smith for a long time and he has a great eye for talent and knows the high school guys that can move on and play at the next level so his recommendation also goes a long way.”
While Horst can play any number of positions such as first base, catcher and pitcher, Munns said he will use the fall to really evaluate Horst.
“He is going to be a catcher/corner guy,” Munns said. “We will see if he can catch at the college level and then we will try him back there just because it’s such an important position. I think Ben is a baseball leadership type kid. That part of it I think he can grow into. We will just see about how he takes to playing the position at the college level but for sure a corner guy and possibly a catcher.”
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith said Horst is going to a good school and a good program.
“We are very happy for Ben and I think it’s a great opportunity,” Smith said. “He takes his academics seriously. Ben can also play multiple positions and after talking to Coach Munns I think they are looking for him to come in and be a designated hitter and possible first baseman. They know he can catch some if he needs to as well. Ben can play that utility guy so that’s going to get him on the field quicker but the biggest upside is that he will be a kid that can find the gap and hit a ball out of the park for them.”
Smith said Horst also has that eccentric desire. He said he wants it.
“Ben has a fire inside him that he is not going to take no for an answer,” Smith said. “He is going to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame. Those things are hard things to teach. He’s a winner.”
Horst definitely came into his own last year while hitting .384 with 28 hits in 73 at-bats with 25 singles, three doubles and 19 RBIs. He also scored 19 runs and finished the season with a slugging percentage of .425 and an on-base percentage of .452. As for his pitching, Horst also flourished on the mound while finishing 2-2 with an ERA of 1.91. In 14 2/3 innings, Horst gave up five runs on 12 hits and one walk while striking out 17 batters.
Those numbers alone last year were good enough to earn Horst on the all-conference and all-district team. Horst, however, also excelled in the classroom while earning academic all-conference honors.
Needless to say, Horst said in order to play at the next level he knows he has to improve on his power to advance to the next level.
In addition to Columbia College, Horst said he also showed interest in Central Methodist University in Fayette and Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois.
With four more years at Columbia College, Horst said his short-term goals for the Cougars is to earn playing time as a freshman. As for his long term goals, Horst said it would be to help Columbia College win as many baseball games as they can.
Although Horst still has one season left to play baseball at Boonville, he said the highlight of his career so far was going to the Final Four in 2016 as well as being undefeated in the conference. “Individually my highlight was hitting a home run in my first varsity home game against Mexico,” Horst said.
While playing baseball for the last 13 years, Horst has also played on local teams as well as competitive teams out of Columbia and St. Louis.
Horst also credits his dad, grandpa and coaches because they taught him how to play the game the right way.
“They encouraged me to be my best and play hard each and every time I took the field for practice or games,” Horst said.