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Eagles take flight under first year coach Hiller

  • Members of this year's Eldorado High School baseball team include seniors: Hunter Sizemore, Branden Unthank, Dalton White, Nolan Milligan and Wyatt Wells. Juniors: Aiden Whitlock, Bryant Byrd, Bradley Boulds, Josiah Green and Keaton Vailes. Sophomores: Trevor Milligan, Eli Ralston and Caden Cummins and Freshmen: Parker Price, Noah Turner and Greyson Conley. Head coach is Mark Hiller and assistant coaches are Garrett Elders and Mark Sigler.

    Members of this year's Eldorado High School baseball team include seniors: Hunter Sizemore, Branden Unthank, Dalton White, Nolan Milligan and Wyatt Wells. Juniors: Aiden Whitlock, Bryant Byrd, Bradley Boulds, Josiah Green and Keaton Vailes. Sophomores: Trevor Milligan, Eli Ralston and Caden Cummins and Freshmen: Parker Price, Noah Turner and Greyson Conley. Head coach is Mark Hiller and assistant coaches are Garrett Elders and Mark Sigler.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 3/19/2020 11:22 AM

Mark Hiller returns home to his alma mater with two words in mind: consistency and winning.

Hiller becomes the fourth coach in the last 10 years to lead the Eagle baseball team and comes from Gallatin County, where he spent the last 14 years as both an assistant and head coach.

When he assumed the reins as the Hawk's head coach in the 2013-14 season, Hiller spent the last six years going 98-41, including two regional championships.

Hiller, who graduated from Eldorado in 1997 and was a part of the 1996 Elite 8 baseball team, is looking to give the Eagles its first winning season since the 2006-07 calendar year when the Eagles went 23-6 under then first-year head coach Billy Tippett.

When he was hired in June, Hiller said there were a lot of boxes that needed to be checked and at the top of that list was changing the culture of the EHS baseball program.

"Coming back home is a big deal for me and I want to prove that they made the right decision by hiring me," Hiller added. "It's an honor and a privilege to get the opportunity to come home and coach a game that I love. My grass roots of baseball are in Eldorado.

"I feel like this is one of the biggest opportunities for me in my coaching career and the timing just felt right for me. The biggest change in my opinion will be culturally. I want to bring a winning culture and winning attitude to a program that historically is a really good baseball school."

The Eagles finished 5-20 last season. Brad Drust, who was 26-68 in four years as head coach, left for Texas in the offseason.

Eldorado returns six starters from last year's team, including five seniors in Hunter Sizemore, Braden Unthank, Dalton White, Nolan Milligan and Wyatt Wells. The five juniors are: Aiden Whitlock, Bryant Byrd, Bradley Boulds, Josiah Goben and Keaton Vailes. There are three sophomores in Trevor Milligan, Eli Ralston and Caden Cummins, while the three freshman Parker Price, Noah Turner and Grayson Conley.

"We want to compete for a conference and regional championship," Hiller said of the team's goals for this season. Eldorado has a rich tradition of baseball and I think this group can be the guys that are remembered for bringing back those winning ways. One good team can lead to a lot of other good teams, just look at Harrisburg and Goreville. Again, it's that culture and those kids know what the expectations are and know how to win games."

Hiller, who highlighted the team's pitching as a bright spot, said that will keep his bunch in a lot of games.

"We can win a lot of those games that these same group of kids just missed out on last year because of our pitching, I really believe that. The potential is there and we are improving on a daily basis. Guys like Unthank, Byrd, Sizemore, White and Price have all shown potential on the mound."

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.