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Prep Baseball: Hefner signs with SIC

  • Harrisburg's Austin Hefner (front row, middle) recently signed scholarship papers with Southeast Illinois College. Joining Hefner are his parents Stefanie Simpson (front row, left) and Steve Hefner. Back row, from left, HHS athletic director Greg Langley, SIC head baseball coach Jeremy Irlbeck and HHS head baseball coach Jay Thompson.

    Harrisburg's Austin Hefner (front row, middle) recently signed scholarship papers with Southeast Illinois College. Joining Hefner are his parents Stefanie Simpson (front row, left) and Steve Hefner. Back row, from left, HHS athletic director Greg Langley, SIC head baseball coach Jeremy Irlbeck and HHS head baseball coach Jay Thompson.
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Posted on 1/25/2017, 12:09 PM

Austin Hefner is truly taking the bad with the good.

The bad, the Harrisburg senior may not be able to lace up his cleats this spring to play baseball for the Bulldogs.

The good, Hefner has secured himself a chance at playing baseball post high school after he recently signed scholarship papers with Southeastern Illinois College.

An ACL injury this winter in basketball season has sidelined Hefner, who said that he is still waiting to have surgery and after meeting with his orthopedic doctor will be able to make a determination on if he can suit up for his senior season.

"I would do anything and everything just to get a chance to put on the purple and white and play with Harrisburg across my chest one more time and play with those guys," Henfer said. "It is a relief to know that no matter what happens I still get to play baseball two more years."

Hefner said being able to sign to play baseball in college was something he always dreamed about doing.

"Ever since I was little I dreamed about sitting at the table getting to sign my name to play baseball at college. Baseball has always been the sport I was most passionate about and I never got bored of it so knowing I get to play two more years is just a blessing."

When Hefner arrives on campus at SIC as a freshmen, he"ll be surrounded by some familiar faces as former teammate Bryce Emery will be a sophomore and American Legion teammate and Eldorado native Drew Woolcott.

"I liked SIC because it was basically home and it would be helpful getting transitioned into the next level of not only sports but school too," Hefner said. "So I thought staying close to home was best for me. And some of the players out there have already reached out to me and invited me out to show me around so they have made me feel pretty comfortable and are making the transition easier."

Hefner could be considered a hybrid baseball player when it comes to positions. As a junior, he started every game for the Bulldogs at shortstop and in his sophomore season, he played every game in centerfield.

After a conversation with SIC head coach Jeremy Irlbeck, Hefner thinks a move to middle infield is where he will end up.

"When I talked to coach Irlbeck back during November he had talked to me about playing middle infield so I"m thinking shortstop which is where I started every game last spring. But, I"m comfortable really anywhere on the field but if I had to choose another position I would definitely go back to center field. Sophomore year I played center every game for coach Thompson and I loved it. I started my first travel team in the outfield and it was just a match and I loved it ever since so I wouldn"t mind getting some action out there."

Hefner, who was named All-Conference in baseball in 2015 and in football this past fall, where he was named Defensive First Team (defensive back) and was voted Most Valuable Defensive Back by his teammates, takes pride in his work and said as a player that is where it all starts for him.

"Some of my strengths I feel are my defense, speed and work ethic. I like to play defense first because without that you aren"t going to win many games and growing up I worked hard at everything I did no matter what it was like sports or school and that is something I have pride in saying. Knowing that I gave 100 percent and had nothing left to give no matter the outcome I know I have something to be proud of."

Hefner was also named to the All-State Academic Team for Class 4A and intends to major in Physical Therapy at SIC.

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Daily Register and Eldorado Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.