Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Washington's Hennigan is SEC Player of Year

Jul 23, 2018
Photo by: Doug Brenneman Cade Hennigan bats for Washington. He led the Southeast Conference with a .467 batting average this season as a junior.

By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports

 

It takes a lot of work and effort to transform oneself into the best player on a team and even more labor and determination to be the best player in a conference.

Cade Hennigan applied the necessary resolution and honed his baseball skills to the point that the Washington High School center fielder and pitcher was named the Southeast Conference Player of the Year for the 2018 season.

“It was exciting when I found out,” Hennigan said.

Initially, he was unable to enjoy it fully because the Demons had a playoff game to play.

“It did give me confidence going in to that game.”

His confidence couldn’t have foresaw the end result of his outstanding play.

“Going into the season I couldn’t have imagined this,” he said. “It was my first year playing varsity full time. It was a great honor.”

Although Hennigan wasn’t a full-time varsity player as a sophomore, he became the best player in the conference as a junior for a team that finished with a 21-12 record. it was the first 20-win season for the Demons since going 22-15 in 2012 and Hennigan was a big reason why.

It was a transformation that Washington head baseball coach Nathan Miller saw coming.

“Cade had a outstanding junior varsity season last year as a sophomore,” Miller said. “So coming into the season we were confident in Cade’s ability to take over centerfield. Cade’s work ethic, attitude and buy-in with what we are doing as a program have also contributed to his success this year.”

Even though he was out for other sports, Hennigan took the time to work on his baseball game.

That work ethic of Hennigan’s made a difference in the offseason.

“We started coming in to hit and throw in January,” Hennigan said. “Getting to work on all that optional stuff in the winter is really important to play well when the season comes around.”

Hennigan led the Demons in runs with 46, at-bats with 113, hits with 53, on-base percentage at .541 and batting average at .469.

His batting average would have led the conference except Demon teammate Luke Turner also batted at a .469 clip. Both were named all-district players.

“If you were to follow Cade around for a day, you would immediately see the leader he is,” Miller said. “Teammates and classmates want to be around him because of how he treats others and his unwavering positive outlook.”

A positive outlook on everything in life can be a motivating factor when things are tough.

“You would also see a young man, a gifted athlete who pushes himself to see what he can do,” Miller said. “He never settles, he is hungry to see how far he can go. He does everything his coaches ask from him plus extra. You never know what you can accomplish until to push yourself to see what you can accomplish and Cade does this on a daily basis.”

Hennigan said the favorite part of baseball is being with his teammates and friends.

“I like the sport because I get to hang out with my friends even though school is out,” Hennigan said.

Hennigan also had a .549 slugging percentage, with two triples and five doubles. He batted in 15 runs and only struck out nine times while drawing 18 walks. He tied for the team lead in sacrifices.

“The time in the cages and the coaches who know so much are why I have good at-bats,” Hennigan said. “They really know the right things to say and the adjustments to make to get us out of slumps.”

Hennigan, who also excelled in track, stole 23 bases in 24 attempts.

“Cade is a great example of how being out for four sports, competing year round and buying into our strength and conditioning program helps to develop a complete athlete,” Miller said.

When asked about his goals for the season, Hennigan just talked about team goals.

“There are real benefits to being a multi-sport athlete,” Hennigan said. “A loty of my hits were beating out bunts or ground balls to the infield. I think one sport definitely helps another.”

“Great coaching and great teammates are why I was able to do so well,” Hennigan said. “My teammates are the best and are really supportive.”

Hennigan did not committ a single error while fielding this season.

On the mound, he had a 5-2 record and two saves in 32 2/3 inning pitched with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks. he had a 3.43 earned run average as opponents batted .260 against him.

The team came together for a 20-win season and was one game short of winning the conference title.

“Splitting with Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield the first time we played them showed us it wasn’t going to be a down year like people outside the program thought it was going to be,” Hennigan said. “Our goal for next season is to win the title and make it to state. We are going to miss the seniors, but I think we gained some good experience so we will have a shot at it next year.”

Always thinking team first helps make a great player.

“I would say our fundamentals are what made us a good team in general,” Hennigan said. “Doing the little things like getting bunts down are why we did so well. Doing the simple things are what helped our team.”

Miller was impressed with Hennigan’s self-esteem.

“He believes in himself, his teammates, his coaches and the process we have in place for developing our players,” Miller said. “You have to also give credit to his parents and the way they have raised Cade to be the person he is today.”

Part of that person’s make-up is his mind.

“Baseball is the sport that you have to be the most mentally tough,” Hennigan said. “You fail more than half of the time. You have to have a short memory. You have to be mentally tough.”

“I think Cade has the opportunity to play a significant role in all four of the sports he will participate in this year,” Miller said. “If there are any young athletes who want to learn what it takes to be a successful student/athlete, follow Cade Hennigan’s footsteps because the path he is creating is a great one to walk on.”

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