Jackson baseball's 2019 graduate Tanner Hecht officially signed his National Letter of Intent with Missouri Valley last month to continue his baseball career. Submitted photo
College Signing: Jackson baseball pitcher Tanner Hecht inks with Missouri Valley

by Nick McNeal ~ Sports Editor

Tanner Hecht started pitching when he was 10 years old, and he will continue to do so for the next four years at Missouri Valley.

Hecht signed his national letter of intent with Missouri Valley this summer following his final season at Jackson, where he went 7-1 overall with 47 strikeouts and a team-best 1.24 earned run average.

For his senior campaign, Hecht garnered SEMO All-Conference and Class 5 District 1 honors, while also being invited to play in the Missouri High School Coaches Association Class 5 All-Star Game. He pitched three scoreless innings and recorded five strikeouts in the game and verbally committed to Missouri Valley the following week.

What Hecht enjoys the most about pitching is that he feels like he’s able to control the game, which he did by only allowing 19 runs in 10 starts as six came from his final start against Hillsboro.

Jackson fell to Hillsboro in the district semifinals for the Indians season to come to an end at 20-9 overall, but during Hecht’s junior year they won the district title and finished one game away from reaching the state final four.

Hecht went 3-1 overall that year and had 27 strikeouts with a 3.35 ERA.

“It was new to me because in J.V. I could always throw [the ball] past [batters],” Hecht said. “Instead of that [on varsity], it was more of you have to pitch now. I struggled junior year — didn’t pitch very well. Then come senior year I had been there and knew some situations and how to get out of them.”

Hecht started using pitches like the curveball and changeup to get out of some of these scenarios, and he said he was able to improve his changeup dramatically heading into this past season.

Fellow 2019 graduate Tyler Martin was one of the reasons why Jackson won a district title their junior year, where he finished with the best record in program history at 9-0 with a program-best ERA of .77.

“We kind of competed against each other a little bit [this season],” Hecht said. “It was like, ‘Hey, let’s both try to do as well as we can each time. We just competed against each other on the field and during the offseason.”

Hecht credits the talent of his defense to being able to finish with the third most wins in Jackson history, which was led by fellow senior shortstop Landon Hahn, who signed with Southeast Missouri State.

Third baseman Boone Gartman was also one of the team’s leaders on defense, who will play in college with Martin at St. Louis Community College.

“The players coming back [to our defense this year] were more comfortable with themselves, and I was more comfortable with them,” Hecht said. “I trusted them more than I did junior year. I just knew if I got a ball on the ground or in the air, they were going to make a play.”

Hecht’s final year at Jackson was also Bryan Austin’s final season as the Indians head coach, who helped guide the program to 120 wins and three district titles.

“His best days are still ahead of him,” Austin said. “He’s a slim guy who locates the fastball, the curveball and the changeup and is currently running at 80 to 82 (miles per hour). College is going to do him well.”