Hunter Simon has made quite the name for himself in his days at Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Middle School — and he's just 13 years old.
Simon recently was a part of the Mavericks baseball team that went to state, which means that he's been to IESA state events in three of the last four seasons. Due to his prowess on the baseball field this fall, Simon was selected by state coaches to play in the inaugural Central Illinois Junior High All-Star Showcase to be played this weekend in downstate Jacksonville.
"This will be my first All-State All-Star game and it feels great to be chosen," Simon said. "I've worked hard for it. I know the other kids have worked hard for it, too, and I'm excited to meet them."
According to Tom Simon, Hunter's dad, his son pitched very well to get the Mavericks to state.
"In the three regional and sectional games, in 27 innings he struck out 54 batters," he said. "He was lights out. Out of the games he pitched before state, he only allowed two runs."
Though he was the losing pitcher at state, Hunter did fan 13 in a 7-2 season-ending loss to Hamilton.
Hunter Simon said that his big strikeout pitch is his changeup that he learned from a coach at Wiers Academy, though Tom also credits MVK coaches Kirk Houchin, Tom Morris and Ken Bunker for Hunter's progression. His fastball has been clocked in the low-70s. Hunter's current middle school coach is Michael Pfeifer.
According to Lisa Simon, Hunter was selected to play in the game by the coaches he played against this year.
"I'm excited for him. It's exciting he's been chosen for it," Lisa Simon said. "All the coaches can vote for who makes the team, but they can't vote for their own players. Hunter knows a couple of players from Dwight who made it and they said they were surprised he didn't make the team, but he actually had. One of the Dwight coaches found out about it and told him."
Part of Hunter's game on the baseball field, aside from pitching, is the fact that he's fast. Apparently very fast.
"Every time I get on base I steal on the first or second pitch," Hunter Simon said. "I'm pretty sure I was only thrown out once out of 18 or 19 times."
That speed has translated into excelling at other sports for Hunter, as well. He medaled at the IESA state track meet for MVK in the long jump and the 200-yard dash. He also went to state in the 100. Not only that, but he's a punt returner for the Dwight youth league football team.
"He's got six punts returned for a touchdown in four games for them," Tom Simon said.
The All-Star Tournament starts on Friday at Lenz Field with a 7:30 p.m. game. Hunter, who will be playing on the west team, will then play two more games on Saturday.