Justin Mitchell’s unique role as leadoff hitter and catcher produced another stellar season.
In his third year as a starter, the Platte County junior earned second team all-state honors from the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association — the first in program history to make the list in Class 5. He led the Pirates in nearly every offensive category and helped them earn the No. 2 seed in Class 5 District 16.
West Platte ended up with two selections on the Class 2 team, including senior four-time pick McKaulley Stephenson.
Platte County’s first all-state player since Tyler Ryun in 2008 (Class 3), Mitchell played in 24 games and topped Platte County’s lineup in hits (37), runs (22), RBIs (21), doubles (nine), triples (three), home runs (five), batting average .420 and slugging percentage (.761). He came in second only to Colton Horn in on-base percentage with a .474 clip.
Mitchell struck out just six times in 97 plate appearances and hit .542 with runners in scoring position.
In addition to the numbers at the plate, Mitchell — verbally committed to Oklahoma University — also stood out behind the plate. He committed just two errors in 152 1/3 innings as a catcher and recorded three pickoffs while throwing out 10 runners attempting to steal.
Platte County finished the season 18-8 and won the Suburban Conference Blue Division title for a second straight year.
West Platte reached the Class 2 quarterfinals for a fourth straight year and ended up 18-8 after an unexpected playoff push that included an upset of No. 2-ranked Mid-Buchanan in the District 16 final. Stephenson struck out 16 in the extra-inning win against the Dragons and recorded 15 more over 10 innings in a 1-0 loss to Lincoln that ended the Bluejays’ season.
A first-team all-state selection for a second straight season, Stephenson went 5-2 with four saves in 63 innings pitched. He finished with 109 strikeouts to just 25 walks with a 1.11 ERA with a WHIP of 0.841. In addition, he ended up second on offense with 24 hits and seven doubles in addition to a team-high 24 RBIs.
Peyton Morris, another senior, made the second team at catcher as West Platte’s biggest threat.
A transfer prior to his junior season, Morris led the Bluejays with a batting average of .386, an on-base percentage of .591 and a slugging percentage of .737. He was also tops in doubles (nine), home runs (three) and walks (17).
Stephenson played for four district championship teams including the state runner-up in 2013 and the 2015 third-place team that also featured Morris. West Platte went 16-7 this year but missed a state trophy by one win, just as the 2014 Bluejays did.
BASEBALL POSTSEASON HONORS
MISSOURI HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL COACHES ASSOCIATION ALL-STATE
C — Justin Mitchell, jr., Platte County
P — McKaulley Stephenson, sr., West Platte
C — Peyton Morris, sr., West Platte
ALL-SUBURBAN CONFERENCE BLUE DIVISION
P — Jared Wilson, jr., Platte County. C — Justin Mitchell, jr., Platte County. 1B — Austin Gammill, jr., Platte County. OF — Colton Horn, jr., Platte County; Dillon Doll, jr., Platte County. U — Drew Parmeley, jr., Platte County.
P — Colton Horn, jr., Platte County; SS — Kodee Martin, sr., Platte County; OF — Jerod Thomas, sr., Platte County
P — Grant Carver, jr., Platte County; 2B — Jared Wilson, jr., Platte County; 3B — Max Hunter, so., Platte County
Player of the year — Colton Horn, jr., Platte County
ALL-SUBURBAN CONFERENCE RED DIVISION
P — Jacob Thigpen, sr., Park Hill South; OF — Liam Henry, so., Park Hill; U — Tyler Watson, jr., Park Hill
P — Aaron Ashby, sr., Park Hill; Chris Bolte, sr., Park Hill. C — Nate Thompson, sr., Park Hill. 2B — Lucas Youtsey, sr., Park Hill. 3B — Preston Cross, sr., Park Hill. OF — Trevor Guzzo, jr., Park Hill; Collin Farrow, sr., Park Hill South; Andrew Aswegan, jr., Park Hill South.
P — Jake Evans, jr., Park Hill South; C — Ryan Callahan, sr., Park Hill South; 1B — Jacob Thigpen, sr., Park Hill South; 3B — Jake Kline, jr., Park Hill South; U — Malik Stevenson, so., Park Hill South
Player of the year — Jacob Thigpen, sr., Park Hill South
ALL-CLASS 2 DISTRICT 16
P — McKaulley Stephenson, sr., West Platte; C — Peyton Morris, sr., West Platte; 1B — Jack Summers, jr., West Platte; SS — Andrew Roberts, sr., North Platte; U — Brett Shepardson, sr., West Platte
3B — Bryntin Crockett, sr., North Platte; OF — Kyle Tabaka, jr., West Platte