Boonville senior Ethan Sander knew Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville was the place for him after a brief tryout with the Bearcats coaching staff.
Although Maryville is quite a bit north of Boonville, Sander said it was decently close to home. As for the second reason to sign at Northwest, Sander said he wanted a four-year college and somewhere to play ball and he got a scholarship to play there.
As a four-year starter for the Pirates, Sander has definitely lived up to the billing as one of the best in the area. While currently hitting .314 this season with 11 hits in 35 at-bats, Sander has also pitched three innings in relief and recorded eight strikeouts while giving up only one run and one hit.
As for the 2014 season, Sander finished second only to Jacob Francis in hitting while batting .352 with 31 hits in 88 at-bats with 19 singles, 10 doubles, two home runs and 24 RBIs. Meanwhile, on the mound last year, Sander recorded a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 3.128 while logging 15 2/3 innings. He also struck out 21 batters during his time on the mound while giving up 10 runs, seven earned, on 12 hits and nine walks.
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith said obviously the coaching staff is very proud and excited for Sander but it also promotes the program as well.
“It’s one of those things where the kids see that if you put in the work and you have some ability, good things will happen,” Smith said. “I think the Northwest coaching staff wants Ethan more for pitching, however, I think they realize he can play some outfield as well. He’s had some injuries early this season with his hip/groin area so we haven’t thrown him as much but he is steady and a good leader for us. He plays a great center field and has thrown a couple of kids out from that position so he has the arm. We’ve had him at 90 miles per hour this year already so I wish him all the success and Northwest is getting a good one.”
Former Boonville Pirates baseball coach Tim Edwards said he is extremely happy for Sander.
“Ethan has worked really hard over the last-four years of his high school career,” Edwards said. “He has a lot of great talent and I think he will do great things at Northwest. He is one of the guys that was the leader by example. He was the guy that most of his teammates looked to when things got tough. He was also the guy that could handle any situation. He has that mental and physical toughness. His sophomore year he put us on his back as a pitcher and was able to get us to the Final Four and that was huge.”
While earning all-conference, all-district and honorable-mention all-state during his career at Boonville, Sander said the things that he has to work on to play at the next level is staying back and driving the ball to the middle and right side of the field. And he said he needs to stop being so ancy.
“I want to start at Northwest as a freshman and contribute to the team,” Sander said of his short-term goals, “and then I want to be a leader on the team and have one of the highest if not the highest batting averages on the team for a career.”
Although Sander still has this season to add to his career totals, he said when it finally comes to an end he is going to miss playing with his teammates that he has grown up playing with all his life. “I’m also going to miss the coaches, community and all the support of family and friends that come to every game,” Sander said.
As for the highlight of his career, he said so far it has to be going to state as a sophomore. He said it was such a great feeling knowing they were one of the best teams in Missouri.
Sander said his stepdad, Chris Rapp, has been the biggest influence on him while playing baseball. “He coached me in all my younger years and got me into competitive ball,” Sander said. “He got me started with it all and taught me mostly everything I know to this day.”