The Central Ozark Conference recently released its all-conference selections and a pair of Neosho seniors were honored.
Neosho ace Jared Stephens and slugger Tre Letts received first and second team honors, respectively, making the grade in one of the toughest conferences around.
Stephens took over as the Neosho ace during his sophomore season and remained in that spot for three seasons. He pitched well enough to earn the attention of college scouts and he signed with State Fair CC — who played for a Region 16 title in May — during the early signing period.
During his senior season, Stephens paced Neosho with a 6-4 record and a 2.33 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 12 walks over 60 innings. The 6-foot-4 righty made 12 appearances, 10 starts, and earned victories against Lebanon, St. Mary’s Colgan, Republic, Carl Junction, Carthage, and Springfield Central.
Stephens earned 75 percent of Neosho’s four conference victories.
In a 2-1 victory over Carl Junction, Stephens allowed one run (not earned) on two hits with 13 strikeouts and one walk over eight innings at Roy B. Shaver Stadium.
In a 3-1 victory over Carthage, Stephens allowed one run (earned) on four hits with eight strikeouts and one walk over seven innings at Carl Lewton Stadium.
Stephens even gave strong performances in Neosho losses, like, for example, against district rival McDonald County early in the season.
In a 2-1 loss to the Mustangs in Anderson, Stephens allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits with a season-high 15 strikeouts and one walk over six innings.
At one point, Stephens won three consecutive starts against conference opponents Republic, Carl Junction, and Carthage.
Stephens earned over half of Neosho’s overall 11 victories.
Letts, who has signed with NCAA Division II Central Missouri in football, showcased his power at the plate in the Mickey Mantle Classic.
Letts won the tournament’s “Tape Measure” award for the most outstanding home run shot of the tournament. The award originates from a legendary Mantle (1931-95) moment on April 17, 1953, when the New York Yankee slugger launched a home run off Washington Senators pitcher Chuck Stobbs that traveled an estimated 565 feet.
Letts’ award-winning homer came in the fourth inning of a 5-1 win over Miami at host field Mickey Mantle in Commerce, Mantle’s old home town.
Letts joined another Neosho slugger — Trey Turner, 2014 — in winning the award. Turner now pitches for the Single-A Hagerstown Suns in the Washington Nationals organization after playing collegiately at first Crowder and then Missouri State.
Letts also doubled off the Mantle Field wall in the championship game against Grove en route to earning all-tournament honors in the Triple Crown Division, a division that takes its name after Mantle’s 1956 season that featured a .353 batting average, 52 homers, and 130 RBI.
P: Jared Stephens, Neosho
P: Trason Vogt, Carthage (U)
P: Isaac Mitchell, Nixa (U)
P: Ace Akers, Nixa
C: Cole Biellier, Willard (U)
C: Joe Reid, Nixa
IF: Blake Mozley, Ozark (U)
IF: Evann Long, Nixa (U)
IF: Garrett Rice, Willard (U)
IF: Grant Harris, Willard (U)
IF: Grant Jones, Joplin
IF: Treghan Parker, Webb City
OF: Ian O’Malley, Carthage (U)
OF: Ethan Thompson, Willard
OF: Tyler Cavener, Republic (U)
OF: Graham Funderburk, Branson
UT: Jeremiah Kennedy, Carl Junction
UT: Cade Beason, Webb City
P: Jake Uber, Nixa
P: Jared Hughes, Republic
P: Cole Gayman, Webb City
P: Josh Wells, Joplin
P: Dylan Frandsen, Ozark
C: Carson Shaver, Ozark
IF: Cale McAllister, Webb City
IF: Kale Schrader, Carthage
IF: Bryant Avery, Nixa
OF: Tyler Ledford, Joplin
OF: Noah Wooldridge, Willard
OF: Darren Sims, Ozark
OF: Jake Skaggs, Ozark
OF: Tre Letts, Neosho
(U) — Unanimous