Wildcats clinch share of EMO championship

By Theo Tate
Posted 5/18/23

The Montgomery County baseball team was enjoying a pregame meal when it found out it didn’t have to travel to North Callaway to play the Thunderbirds in an Eastern Missouri Conference game on …

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Wildcats clinch share of EMO championship


The Montgomery County baseball team was enjoying a pregame meal when it found out it didn’t have to travel to North Callaway to play the Thunderbirds in an Eastern Missouri Conference game on May 8.

The contest was moved to MCHS because North Callaway’s field at Auxvasse was unplayable due to the storms that hit the area the previous night. The Wildcats were ecstatic when they heard the news.

“We always seem to play better when we’re here,” MCHS junior Jace Ellis said.

The Thunderbirds found out why.

MCHS cruised to a 7-0 win over North Callaway to finish in a share of the conference title with Elsberry at 9-1. It’s the Wildcats’ ninth league championship and the first since 2019.

MCHS senior first baseman Harrison Bishop said he was thrilled that his team clinched a conference crown in his senior year. Four years ago, he got to see his older brother, Hyrum, lead the Wildcats to a conference championship.

“We were all so excited,” Bishop said. “It makes it that much better that we could seal the conference at home.”

The Wildcats scored two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and four in the seventh against North Callaway, which ended its EMO season at 8-2. MCHS, which was the visiting team, also handed the Thunderbirds’ pitcher, Sam Pezold, his first loss of the season.

“North Callaway is a pretty good team,” MCHS coach Vince Wolk said. “They threw their best pitcher at us.”

Ellis turned in a strong effort on the mound for the Wildcats. He went the distance, striking out six batters and giving up only three hits to earn the complete-game victory.

“I felt really good today,” Ellis said. “I haven’t thrown in a while. I had some shoulder soreness and stuff.”

With the baseball team clinching the EMO title, the Wildcats finished with six EMO team championships in the 2022-23 season, more than any other school in the conference. Their girls cross country, volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball and girls track also won league crowns.

Wolk said the EMO championship was special for Bishop and senior Travis Hill. Both players joined the Wildcats in their sophomore year after their freshman season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They put in the time and effort,” Wolk said. “This year, their leadership is unmatched. They wanted to have fun while playing baseball. That really led into the younger kids, too.”

MCHS won its first seven conference games before losing to Wright City 9-4 on April 29.

“Wright City played a better game than us that day,” Wolk said. “They did a lot of little things right. We made a few mistakes. So it was tough.”

The Wildcats bounced back four days later with a come-from-behind, 11-8 win over Elsberry.

“Honestly, I felt like we won the conference against Elsberry,” Bishop said. “The Elsberry game was more important to me.”

Bishop finished with two hits and two RBIs to lead the Wildcats. He had a sacrifice RBI in the fourth and an RBI single in the seventh.

“I had quite a game in Hermann a week ago, then I’ve been in a slump for a while,” Bishop said.”I’ve been striking out and I wasn’t helping the team very much. Usually my role is when people get on, I would help bring them in.

Junior Mason Leu, who helped the MCHS boys basketball team win an EMO title this winter, and Hill each scored two runs.

Originally, the Wildcats were scheduled to play North Callaway on April 20, but it was postponed due to rain.

“I’m kind of glad it got rained out the first time,” Ellis said. “I like the way it was set up with the winner getting the conference championship, so I was happy.”

MCHS captured its second EMO title in Wolk’s four-year tenure as head coach. He coached the team to a conference championship in his first year in 2019.

“The first one, I felt that we probably had the better team talent wise,” Wolk said. “But this team never gives up. We’re always just battling and we find a way to get it done.”

The Wildcats wrapped up their regular season at 14-5 with a 5-4 win over Centralia on May 10 at home. MCHS finished its home season at 6-0.

Five days later, the Wildcats' season ended with a 7-0 loss to Hermann in a Class 3, District 7 semifinal at South Callaway High School.


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