For Boonville seniors Dylan Watson and Connor Barnes, this wasn’t their first go around on the Missouri Babe Coaches Association All-State Team.
As for senior Reece Lang, the left-handed hurler had the stats to warrant all-state in 2018 at 6-0 but lacked the innings to be selected.
As it turned out, Watson and Barnes were both first-team selections in Class 4 while Lang was a second team pick.
At 17-9 overall and 7-0 in the Tri-County Conference, first-year head coach Adam Arnette said it was a great accomplishment and honor to have three guys be recognized as all-state players. “These guys are very deserving of this honor and I am proud to have coached all three of them,” Arnette said.
While taking their talents to State Fair Community College in the fall to play baseball, Watson and Barnes left little doubt that they should be selected to the all-state team.
Watson, a three-year starter at catcher for the Pirates, finished the season second only to Trae Williams in hitting while batting .385 with 25 hits in 65 at-bats with a team-leading 20 singles and 18 walks. Watson also had three doubles, one triple, one home run and 12 RBIs on the season.
“Dylan has taken an extra step this year to be the big hitter in our lineup as well as a great defensive catcher,” Arnette said. “He was a very respected hitter and was intentionally walked many times this season. Defensively, runners did not often attempt to run on him because they respected his arm. He had been second team the previous two years and had earned first team honors this year.”
Watson said it’s a great feeling to be selected all-state. “It’s a great accomplishment and makes me feel like all the work I put in actually became something and that everybody recognizes and it just feels amazing,” Watson said.
As for the highlight of his career, Watson said it was getting to the Final Four his junior year. “That was the best feeling because we were down and then we all got back up and came back and won against Westminster,” Watson said.
Although that moment will stick with Watson because he knocked in the tying run in the seventh against Westminster, he said another highlight occurred during his sophomore year against Whitfield. Watson said he got the go ahead home run in the sectional game against Whitfield but Boonville ended up losing.
As for Barnes, who was selected as a first team utility player, the senior standout did it both on the mound and at the plate this year while splitting time at second base.
While finishing 6-1 on the season with an ERA of 1.370, Barnes also logged  46 innings and gave up just 12 runs-9 earned-on 29 hits and 14 walks while striking out 75 batters. At the plate, Barnes hit .292 on the season with 21 hits in 72 at bats with 16 singles, two doubles, one home run and 14 RBIs. He also scored 11 runs.
Arnette said Barnes has improved each year he has been on varsity. “He went from honorable mention to second team to being first team this year,” Arnette said. “He was named first team utility for being a great infielder and hitter as well as pitcher.”
Barnes said it’s a good feeling to get all-state for three years.
As for the highlight of his career, Barnes said as a team it would be his junior year when the team made it to the Final Four. He said the team didn’t finish it the way they wanted to but still made a good run. As far as individual highlight, he said it was his last game this past season in the district tournament against Southern Boone, where he had 16 strikeouts.
As for Lang, he ran into some tough luck this season by finishing 5-4 overall. But to his credit, the left-handed hurler fell to two Class 5 teams in Grain Valley and Rock Bridge and lost to another team who played in the Final Four in the Helias Crusaders. Lang’s final loss came in Alabama to Opelika.
For the season, Lang finished with an ERA of 2.541 with 52 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up 29 runs-19 earned-on 49 hits and 14 walks while striking out 83 batters.
Arnette said Lang earned his first all-state honor and it is a well deserved one. “He worked hard every game and his performances and stats showed. “He is well deserving of this honor,” Arnette said.
Lang, who will play at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, said it was a pretty good feeling to make all-state. “I had the mentality of going out there and doing my thing and good things happened,” Lang said. “The reward proves that hard work pays off.”
As for the team highlight for his career, Lang said he wasn’t part of it but definitely going to the Final Four and facing one of the top teams in the state last year. “I was warming up in the bullpen but I never got in the game,” Lang said. “It was just a good experience with my teammates that I am close to.”
As far as individual highlight, Lang said it has to be signing to further his athletic career at Jefferson College and just going out there and doing his best. “As far as game, I would say probably Eldon because I just went out there and did my thing and ended up striking out 16 batters,” Lang said.