Helm, Martin make history for McDonald County baseball

Levi Helm and Cole Martin are 1st team All-State selections.

ANDERSON, Mo. – McDonald County senior pitcher Levi Helm and catcher Cole Martin have known each other since they first got into sports.

“We’ve been playing baseball together since we first started,” Helm says, “He’s my best friend. That’s my guy. We’ve played all different sports together. There’s always that chemistry between teammates when you’ve played with them so long. That’s something that Cole and I have always had, is that chemistry.”

“I’ve caught him and he’s pitched to me since we started playing,” Martin says of Helm, “I know his stuff and what he can throw. It’s just easy calling the game when he’s on the mound.”

The two McDonald County standouts have made history for the Mustangs’ baseball program.

Both have been named 1st team All-State selections by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches’ Association, becoming the first McDonald County teammates to ever earn All-State honors in the same season.

“I was hoping I would get it, but I was more happy that Levi got it,” Martin says, “After the year he had last year… he deserved it. He’s a good player.”

“Being able to get that accomplishment together is something that means a lot and it will be something that I talk about for a long time,” Helm says, “It was always just fun to be on the same field as him and to be able to compete with him. ”

“Those two guys were two who always practiced hard and always came ready to go,” says McDonald County head baseball coach Kevin Burgi, “You never heard them complain. That’s where we got better. Games were fun, but when we were building the team and starting at the foundation, it was those guys at practice.”

Helm was named 1st team All-State as a pitcher.

This season he was 6-2 in 12 appearances on the mound for McDonald County. He led the team in ERA (2.25), innings pitched (59), and strikeouts (80) this season. He also tied for a team-high with 4 home runs at the plate, and tied for 2nd on the team with 23 RBI.

“It’s something I’ve worked hard for since my freshman year. I’ve had a goal to get that accomplishment. My senior year I finally got it done,” Helm says of being named All-State, “We probably had one of the best defensive teams in the whole state. If you were going to pitch, you knew that if you threw strikes the defense behind you was going to do their jobs and you could trust them. I always had full confidence in my defense.”

Martin earns 1st team All-State recognition as a catcher.

He was a monster at the plate all year for the Mustangs, leading the team in hits (46), batting average (.484) and runs batted in (25). He and Helm tied for the team lead with 4 home runs each.

“Helm and I said we had to do something special before the year began,” Martin says, “We were hoping to get All-State together, and the hard work obviously paid off.”

On top of their individual success, Helm and Martin led the Mustangs to one of their best seasons in program history.

McDonald County finished the year with a 22-9 overall record. They set a program record for most wins in a single season, while also winning the team’s first ever Big 8 conference championship.

The team’s season ended in the Class 5 District 7 semifinals with a 5-4 loss to Carl Junction.

“It was a special year. Nobody wanted to lose in the second round of districts, but we set a school record for wins and we beat some teams we haven’t beat in more than 10 years,” Helm says of the season, “The hard work that we put in paid off, and I can say that we played to the best of our abilities and it worked out.”

“It was hard. I think we could have gone a long way, but we just didn’t put our game together that day,” Martin says of the district semifinal loss, “We had our ups and downs, but we played well this spring. It was probably my best year playing, because it was just so much fun. I hate to lose and I love to win. It was fun because we won a lot of games.”

Both Martin and Helm will continue their baseball careers in college, with Martin signing to play at Cowley CC in Arkansas City, Kansas, and Helm signing to play at Highland CC in Highland, Kansas.

While it’s time for them to move on – they’ve left their mark at McDonald County High School.

“Their attitudes made them special. They have a lot of abilities, but they came to work every day and they wanted to be in big moments,” Burgi finishes, “You see some kids get nervous, but those guys were always ready to play. They wanted to play in big games and they were never nervous about it. The All-State thing is awesome, but there’s a lot more in store for them as they continue their careers.”

Below are the local players earning All-State honors from the MHSBCA.

Class 6

OF Kyler Stokes (Joplin) 2nd team

Class 5

P Levi Helm (McDonald County) – 1st team

C Cole Martin (McDonald County) – 1st team

INF Cy Darnell (Webb City) – 2nd team

Class 4

INF Jaesik Friggle (Aurora) – 1st team

OF Case Sanderson (Nevada) – 1st team

P Trey Mulholland (Aurora) – 1st team

C Cade Beshore (Nevada) – 2nd team

OF Aaron Fisher (Aurora) – Honorable Mention

UT Hayze Hoffman (Aurora) – Honorable Mention

Class 3

OF Mason Gastel (Lamar) – Honorable Mention

Class 2

INF Ezequiel Garcia (Purdy) – 2nd team

OF Travis Hughes (Purdy) – 2nd team

Class 1

INF Justin Payne (Liberal) – Honorable Mention

OF Payton Morrow (Liberal) – 2nd team