Baseball Player of the Year

A Hitting Machine: North’s Brookes Walters blasts his way to JR Baseball Player of the Year

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LINDEN — A 26-game hitting streak is something that most Major League Baseball players would be proud of. Rarely is that done at the high school level, unless your North Montgomery’s Brookes Walters who hit safely in 26 of the 27 games this season for the Chargers. When you look at the stats, Walters led the Chargers in every major offensive category. He batted .494 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s to go along with 30 runs scored, 10 doubles, and an on-base percentage of .596 while also slugging .788.

After his sophomore season Walters got with Charger hitting coach Ryan Cole in the off-season to take his game to the next level. The constant hours of winter workouts ended up paying off as not only was Walters the best player for the Chargers, but one of the best players in all of the Sagamore Conference. Those offensive numbers for Walters saw him rank second in the SAC in batting average, slugging, runs, and on-base percentage, third in home-runs, while taking the top spot in the SAC in RBI’s.

To take his stats to even another level Walters ranked seventh in Class 3A in slugging, on-base percentage, 10th in average and home-runs.

“Coach Cole really helped me work on fixing things in my swing and working on mechanics and all of that really helped me become a better hitter,” Walters said. “He helped work on my approach and helped me gain confidence to make me better.”

Charger coach Matt Voorhees, who was back for his second stint with the Chargers, saw the work that Walters was putting in and knew that something special just might be on the horizon.

“From day one, his mental approach in our winter workouts, you knew he had aspirations for himself and big goals,” Voorhees said. “He and Coach Cole really meshed extremely well and Brookes bought in to what coach Cole was wanting to do with our program. He became such a dangerous two-strike hitter and that’s where a lot of his hits came from. He matured very well and was able to make adjustments in his swing and it paid off in a big way.”

The success that Walters saw as one of the best hitters in the area has rightfully earned him the title of the 2022 Journal Review Baseball Player of the Year.

What makes Walters insane numbers look even better is the fact that SAC is loaded with tremendous pitching. Crawfordsville, Lebanon, Frankfort and many other teams in the conference can trot out not just one, but multiple talented arms that are more than capable of shutting down any lineup. Despite that, Walters came up to the plate with the up-most confidence that he was the better than whoever the opposing pitcher was on the mound.

“I think just going up to the plate telling myself that I was going to get a hit and being confident really helped me,” Walters said. “Coach Cole always told us to go up there telling yourself that you are better than the other guy and stuff like that. Also just working on my swing in the off-season and correcting things really helped.”

Voorhees called Walters “the jack of all trades”, and for good reason. It didn’t matter the situation that the Chargers or Walters found themselves in, Voorhees knew more likely than not that Walters would win whatever situation he was presented with.

“Honestly we could’ve had Brookes bat lead-off with the way his on-base percentage was,” Voorhees said. “Then you add the fact that he can hit it out of the park too. I think that’s his body really starting to mature and he’s spent a lot of time getting stronger in the weight room. His ability just to be able to execute in any situation that we needed him to. It’s so big now for young hitters to not panic at the plate and recognize what their pitch is and Brookes is such a good example of how to do just that.”

After a stellar junior season one may ask how Walters can improve even further. North Montgomery did graduate five seniors from this past season so while Walters will still be expected to be a leader on the diamond, Voorhees will look to him more off of it in a leadership capacity.

“He’ll have to bear a little more responsibility and be one of those team leaders next year,” Voorhees said. “Having five great seniors this past year, we kind of put Brookes on cruise control and let him do his thing. Those seniors did a tremendous job of talking with guys like Brookes and Jarrod Kirsch and others on how to be those leaders. It ultimately will come down to how he wears both of those hats of being a great player and a great leader. I have no doubts that he’ll be a outstanding leader for us and I can’t wait to see what his senior season has in store.”

For Walters he also sees the improvements he needs to make. While the individual records are nice, he is focused on helping the Chargers break through and check off some big goals off their checklist.

“During the off season I need to get stronger and faster and  keep working on my swing and defense so I can be as good as possible for the team,” he said. “I want to do my best to lead by example and help everyone get better so we can compete for conference, county and sectional titles. The younger classes are a great group of people and athletes and with the coaching staff I have no doubt that we can be a really competitive team.”

The bar has been set for Walters and a breakthrough junior campaign has set the stage for what should be an even more amazing senior season.

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