Mt. Vernon’s Quinton Kujawa was honored Monday with his selection to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State team for Class 3A.
“First I want to thank God who has graced me with the people and opportunities to play baseball,” said Kujawa. “I just want to thank everyone who has believed in me, helped me or pushed me to get this spot. From coach pitch to now, I want to thank all the coaches I’ve had and I want to thank everyone in high school from coach [Quinn] McClure, [Tom] Fulkerson, [Scott] Gamber, [Seth] English, [Travis] Kelley and especially coach [Tim] Holloway for all the help and guidance.”
The Rams finished the season with a 26-10 record and 10-0 in the South Seven Conference. Kujawa hit .258 on the season with a .345 on-base percentage.
He had 25 hits, 18 RBI and scored 23 runs.
“Another man I want to thank is coach Denny Clark,” said Kujawa. “He has been coaching me from the time I was in the fourth grade at Rome and I have had him with me every step of the way.
“Just to have [a] familiar face and the guy that knows you as well as you know [yourself] on the field helps. He helped me in every aspect of the game and to become the player I am today.”
It could be said with accuracy that Kujawa’s greatest impact for the Rams was from the mound. Kujawa was 7-0 this season with a 0.76 ERA. He made 15 appearances and started 10 games. He finished three of those and saved one and had two shutouts.
“Being named to the all-state team is an honor,” said Kujawa. “There is a lot of big name guys out there and to be put up there with them is an honor. To be one of the two kids from southern Illinois picked is an honor too. It doesn’t happen often.”
Kujawa pitched 73 ⅔ innings (the most of any Rams’ pitcher). He allowed 55 hits, 21 runs, and a total of eight earned runs. He walked 15 batters striking out 89.
“As far as the season went, I threw pretty well,” said Kujawa. “There area few pitches that stick in my mind that I wish I could have back or ways I could’ve approached guys differently.
“A few balls got through holes that if I would’ve made a better pitch maybe they wouldn’t have gotten the run. But overall the defense behind me did everything for me to help me have the success I had.”
In addition to winning the outright South Seven conference title, Mt. Vernon also won a regional crown for the second straight season.
“A lot of people thought that we were going to be down this year but after going 26-9 I think we proved them wrong,” said Kujawa. “All of us had a chip on our shoulders and to go 10-0 in the conference and get a regional title as a team, we felt like we were successful.”
During the season, Kujawa signed with Lewis and Clark Community College.
“On the mound this year I felt I met some expectations and some I didn’t quite meet,” said Kujawa. “From a personal standpoint, my junior year I had told a guy on the team before a game I was going to break the ERA record, which I was fortunate enough to do. I also wanted to get the career record which I came up short on.
“Every time I went out there I went out there and gave it my all. I wanted to win everyday and anything less than that I felt like I could’ve done better.”