ROCHELLE — Two Rochelle varsity baseball players slugged and pitched their way onto the Northern Illinois Big 12 All-Conference First Team roster this season. Seniors Johnny Beck and Brandon Johnson were each given First Team recognition for the second consecutive season. Senior Noah Knight and junior Gavin Ansteth took home All-Conference Honorable Mentions.
Beck led the Rochelle offense with a team-best .434 average and seven home runs this season while finishing second on the Hubs with 25 RBIs. On the mound, Beck tossed nearly 48 innings for Rochelle, going 6-4 overall, striking out 84 batters and earning a 2.79 ERA per seven innings.
“It’s an honor to receive the award my senior year,” Beck said. “Even though our season didn’t end the way my teammates and I wanted it to, it was a blast playing with them all. I definitely hit better than any year I played on the varsity team. I didn’t pitch at the level I know I’m capable of, but I still had the support from my teammates. I would like to get better at staying positive when I’m not satisfied with how I played.”
Johnson crushed four home runs and totaled a team-high 26 RBIs for the Hubs this season, batting .407 on the year. Johnson went 4-1 on the pitcher’s mound with a 2.53 ERA per seven innings, striking out 58 batters in 36 innings.
“It’s always a great feeling to be recognized as one of the best players in the conference,” Johnson said. “I thought I performed pretty well this year. I felt that I had gotten a lot better on the mound this year but I struggled at times at the plate. I’d like to improve on seeing the ball better during at-bats and I’d like to work on hitting the ball harder.”
Ansteth hit .378 while recording three home runs and 23 RBIs for Rochelle this season. Knight added four home runs and 18 RBIs with a .348 batting average. Knight went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA per seven innings and 12 strikeouts in over 16 innings.
Both Beck and Johnson will be playing baseball at the next level. Beck will be taking his talents to Western Illinois University, while Johnson has signed to play for the Northern Illinois University program, joining former Rochelle teammate Kyle Seebach.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of competing at a higher level and all of the opportunities that come along with it,” Johnson said.
“I’m most excited about making new friendships,” Beck added. “I played with my teammates for over 10 years and not playing with them is going to be different, but I’m excited for the opportunity to make more friends.”