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Clear Fork Advances with Win Over Upper

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Gabe Kennedy

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jerry Smalley

 

          Clear Fork smoked Upper Sandusky (8-1) in a division II district semifinal on Thursday afternoon at Bluffton University.

          They will be back on Saturday afternoon to play St. Mary’s Memorial, a (4-3) winner over Lexington in the second semifinal on Thursday, for a regional berth.

          Colts starter Luke Schlosser almost always has his “A” game on the mound.  Thursday, he had his “A+” game in what was Clear Fork’s most important game of the season so far.  He had 15 strikeouts in six and 2/3 innings of work.  Twice he struck out the side.  At one point he fanned nine of the 12 batters he faced.  He allowed only two hits in the first six innings before kind running out of fuel for the machine in the seventh.  He reached his pitch limit and had to be removed with two outs in the seventh.  Garett Hotz, the expected starting pitcher on Saturday, got the last out.

          “Luke is just a dog.  He is a bulldog out there.  It's just so nice to have a kid who's a leader and obviously you can take that leadership and add production to it.  Holy cow that's a great dude to coach.  We're just trying to enjoy the ride right now,” said Clear Fork coach Gabe Kennedy.

          Upper (17-8) was the outright champ of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this spring.

          Upper coach Jerry Smalley says they are really disappointed, but eventually they will understand what they have accomplished.  “They'll be happy with what they've done in their careers at Upper, they set all kinds of records, but they didn’t want it to end this way I know that.  That’s the game of baseball and that’s the way you play.  We’ll go from there.  I mean Kaden (Holman) is going to go play college, so he still has a career ahead of him.  The seniors were the best class to go through Upper with stats and wins, so they can take that on their shoulders and take it with them after high school,” said Smalley.

          The Colts (24-4) took a (1-0) lead in the first inning when Jay Jackson reached on an error and scored on a single by Mason Sansom.  They added one in the third when Jackson led off the inning with a triple to the fence in leftcenter and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chandler Ball.  Hotz opened the fourth with another triple to the wall and he scored on a wild pitch.

          It’s mostly small ball that has produced the offense for Clear Fork this year, but Kennedy says those gap shots are a plus.  “Those were huge hits.  The kids are… they're amped up and ready to go.  It's one of those things where we'll get back at it (Friday) for practice.  We will work on the base running, we'll work on the first and third, the bunting, and everything else,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “If you hit a triple that's really nice.  I don't have to do all that other stuff to get the guy to third base.”

          Hotz was the first batter to face Upper’s Kaden Holman, who was one of the best pitchers in Ohio last year, but he has been hampered with injuries this year.  The Colts continued to reach Holman as in the fifth as Sansom, Ball, Kasey Swank and Hotz has consecutive singles and there were four stolen bases and the two runs made it (5-0) Colts.  Three more runs came across in the sixth on a RBI hit by Schlosser and a two run error by the Rams.

          Kennedy says they looked forward to the challenge of facing Holman.  “I think we were looking forward to the challenge.  The kid is a stud, the kid is ridiculously good.  If we want to be great then we have got to we fight against great people.  So, we were fortunate,” he said.

          A key on Thursday was the Colts ability to keep adding on.  They scored in five of their six innings at the plate.  Kennedy says that is something they preach. “The kids are hungry.  One run is not enough.  We try to preach to win each inning.  No matter what the score is we want to win the inning.  Whatever the inning is and the kids they did that,” he said.

 

Published 5/24/24

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St. Mary’s Memorial Edges Lex

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          With a two spot in the bottom of the sixth inning, St. Mary’s Memorial rallied Thursday evening to beat Lexington (4-3) in a division II district semifinal played at Bluffton University.

          They will meet Clear Fork (24-4) in a district final Saturday at Bluffton.  The Colts hammered Upper Sandusky (8-1) in the other semifinal.

          Memorial coach Adam Graves says they had guys step up.  “I'm proud of our team.  When you get down like that in a big emotional game like this it's really easy that you have the possibility of dying and we didn't.  Joel (Kogge) pitched a fantastic game for us out there.  Kasey (Grose) came in got the last two outs.  Those are our two big game pitchers.  Those are the guys that we count on the competitive out there.  I'll tell you what the bottom of our lineup, I haven’t seen our stats, but I think it was the bottom of the order that did most of the damage.  Even when we got the first two, we executed like we're supposed to.  We got a bunt down and moved them and we got a sacrifice fly.  So, very proud of the effort of my players, my coach coaching staff, just super proud of what we're doing right now,” said Graves.

          Lexington (11-18) has been a team that has been competitive in most of their games this season and veteran coach Jeff Strickler says the effort has been constant.  “I mean that's the way baseball goes.  You try to make the plays.  You do the best you can to make the plays and it doesn’t always happen.  The thing I'm really proud of these guys about is the fact that they never gave up,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They've always fought.  We've been there and played good games.  Played games where we won one run games, where we lost one run games.  It's just never been a question of effort.”

          St. Mary’s Memorial (12-14) took (2-0) lead in the bottom of the third on a double by Jace Turner, the eighth place hitter, and an infield single by Alexander Honey, out of the nine hole.  A throwing error allowed Turner to score.  Honey crossed home on sac fly by leadoff hitter Dalton Fink.

          Lexington took the lead when they put up three in their half of the fifth.  Landon Hamilton walked, Cole Eichhorn got a hit, Brayden Mumaw’s infield hit plated Hamilton and then Markale Martin’s double to right gave the Minutemen the lead.

          However, the Roughriders responded in the bottom of the sixth when Preston Rupert hit a ball into the hole between short and third for a hit and advanced to second when the ball was thrown over the first baseman’s head.  He was sacrificed to third and Memorial tied it with a RBI single by Luke Rammel.  Rammel was picked off first place by pitcher Colton Murfield in what looked like a key out.  However, Aiden Meinerding tripled to rightcenter and scored what turned out to be the winning run when Lexington’s relay wet out of play.

          The Minutemen got two runners on in the seventh, but failed to score.

          Strickler says these one run losses are tough.  “If nothing else these guys should have learned they can play with everybody.  I think maybe this is the ninth one run loss that we've had this year,” he said.

          Strickler says Murfield did a great job of keeping them in the game.  “He has been our one.  He was injured for about three weeks with an elbow injury.  Between the injury and the rehab he didn't get a whole lot of innings in.  During that time, we had some other guys step up and get the job done.  Divelbiss and Powell both did a great job there in Murfield’s absence,” said Strickler.

          St. Mary’s Memorial has won four of its last five and Garves says they believe in what they are doing.  “We were on the struggle bus there for a while during the regular season and we're coming around.  We're believing in each other and we're trying to put all three facets pitching, hitting and fielding together.  We've done that so far in the tournament and that's what we need to do when we play a very good Clear Fork team on Saturday,” said Graves.

 

Published 5/24/24

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Highland Walks Off Newark Catholic

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          Highland got a bases loaded RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to beat Newark Catholic (6-5) in a division III regional championship game played Thursday evening at Big Walnut High School.

          Kort Sears led off the seventh in a tie ballgame with a triple.  Newark Catholic would walk the next two batters intentionally to load the bases.  Jace Brooks then grounded a single to right to win it.

          Coach Donnie Kline says they kids rose to the occasion.  “The ‘24 version of Highland baseball has been a really fun one.  They have really fought well.  They've learned that it takes 21 outs to win a baseball game.  It has been fun to watch them mature as well this season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It was a game we were down early 2-0, 3-1 and then take a lead and give it up the lead and have a chance to walk them off there at the very end.  It was a fun game.  This is a team of guys who kind of stick together.  There's not a lot of heroes I would say, but there was a lot of cool stories and a lot of guys with the heroic actions to get the win for sure.”

          Kline says the Fighting Scots lived up to their name and kept fighting.  “When you look at the game of baseball and you look back on it.  There's a lot of times the boys might say it's not our night.  It’s a good hitting club and they're bringing in their ace late and all these kinds of things that go against you.  At the end of the day, the boys kept fighting and they showed some grit and perseverance and pushed through and found a way to win the baseball game,” he said.

          Highland (26-3), the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champ, plays either Coldwater or Liberty-Benton, who play in a district final on Saturday, in the regionals next week.

          They have some key veterans, but a lot of young kids too, and Kline says they have matured.  “The thing about it is I think good teams find different ways to win.  I mean sometimes it's going to be pitching and defense and it's going to be some late hits and so some base running or some small ball.  (Thursday) was a little bit of everything and it was a fun way to win a baseball game.  A lot of the young guys who started the game as sophomores and their first time in varsity baseball.  They’re getting that thrown in the fire type of treatment where you have got to learn on the run you.  You don't have a lot of time to figure it out and a lot of guys are doing that and it makes this club dangerous and a lot of fun to watch,” said Kline.

 

Published 5/24/24

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Seneca East Holds Off Mohawk

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Click here to listen to an interview with coach Zach Hawkins

 

          Seneca East built a six run lead and then had to hold on for dear life to edge Mohawk (8-7) Wednesday afternoon in a division IV district semifinal at Galion High School.

          They will play South Central, a (12-3) winner over Plymouth in the night cap, on Friday evening in the district final.

          Caden Fritz went the distance of the Tigers to get the win on a day when he was not at the top of his game.  “Sometimes you don't have your best stuff and he didn't have his best stuff (Wednesday), but he's our ace and we're going to go with him.  There toward the end, he just kind of bent down and said hey I'm going to do this and we got it done,” said Seneca East Coach Rick Bowerman.

          The Tigers had six stolen bases and Mohawk had five errors and at least four wild pitches or passed balls.

          Bowerman says they were able to take advantage.  “It was good early in the game we put some runs on the board early.  We were aggressive on the base paths and took advantage of some mistakes they made and played some good defense, but then the middle innings our defense kind of let us down.  We dropped fly ball, we don't communicate another fly ball and we give them four easy runs and shouldn't have,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “When you get to this point in the tournament you are going to face good teams.  The last time Fritz threw against them I think they had three hits.  They made adjustments and he doesn't have his best stuff, so that’s when the other players have to step up.  We did just enough to get the win,”

          Seneca East (16-13) scored twice in the top of the first on an RBI single by Fritz and a run scoring double by Nathan Parks.  Then added two more in the second when Jackson Geyheart reached on an error, Blake Foos singled and stole a base, putting runners on second and third and lead off hitter Aiden Hines delivered a two run single.  It became (7-1) after two a half when the Tigers got three more.  There was a hit batter, two walks, and a two run single by Foos.

          Mohawk coach Zach Hawkins says they got themselves behind with some mistakes, but he says they never gave up.  “We put (Brayden) Chester out there.  I wanted my senior leader out there and he didn't have his best stuff and then the defense behind him definitely didn't help out.  If we catch a flyball and we probably limit a couple of those runs and then our catcher didn't have his best up behind the plate, but the kids absolutely rallied.  It's really easy there down 7-1 to pout and quit and they didn't allow that to happen you know off of Fritz who's got a 1.00 ERA all year long.  They battled and put good at bats together all day long and gave themselves a really good chance there at the end to tie it up or take the lead.  So, I'm extremely proud of their fight it would have been easy to quit there for sure,” said Hawkins.

          The Warriors (19-7) got the tying run on base in the seventh inning, but couldn’t get him in.

          Bowerman says they were aggressive and that led to some runs for the Tigers.  “Our plan is we want to be aggressive on the base paths and we did that and put pressure on them and led to some runs for us,” he said.

          Bowerman says their start to the game over those first four innings turned out to be the difference.  “The key to the game was our start.  Being able to score each inning for those first four innings put the pressure on them.  Then they got some momentum going there toward the end and put some runs together and make it a close game, but we were able to close it out,” said Bowerman.

          Mohawk really got busy in the bottom of the third when they got four singles from Owen Patrizi, Hunter Haynes, Travis Geary and Chester to cut it to (7-3).  Patrizi singled and Kaleb Bish reached on a dropped fly ball.  Haynes sent them home with a two run single and it was (8-5) after four.  They added two more in the fifth when Kaden Bish was hit by a pitch and Chester walked.  Then Braylan Mullholand drove them home with a single and it was (8-7) Seneca East.

          They was a key moment in the game there in the bottom of the fifth when nobody out an two runners on when Lance Frankart hit a line shot that was caught by Hines at short and then he picked off Mullholand who had strayed too far off third for a double play.

          Hawkins says kids did everything that he could ask to give themselves a chance.  “That’s what we told them all the time.  We knew with Fritz being in there and that we were going to have to be on it.  We've been prepping for that for weeks after we saw him in the in the league a couple weeks ago and then we knew we probably were going to see him here in the district.  So, we've been prepping for it and I'm proud of our kids.  I feel like we were peaking there at the end at the plate.  So, that's all you can ask and we put up seven runs against a pitcher like that I can't be mad at them,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 5/23/24

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South Central Hammers Plymouth

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Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jarrod Furr

 

          South Central erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and turned a close game into a blowout in a (12-3) win over rival Plymouth in a division IV district semifinal on Wednesday evening at Galion High School.

          They will be back on Friday evening to play Seneca East, the defending district champion, and (8-7) winner over Mohawk, in the lidlifter, for a district title.

          South Central was leading (4-3) after five and half innings on Wednesday when they put together the big inning, which included five hits and three Plymouth errors.

          Trojans coach Nick Kirk says the difference was their approach at the plate.  “The first couple innings we were allowing the pitcher to pitch.  We weren't being aggressive.  We finally started being aggressive putting the ball in play.  You put the ball in play you put pressure on the other team and that's what happens,” he said.

          Starting pitcher Eric Sanders turned in a solid effort for the Trojans.  He allowed only four hits, walked three and struck out eight.

          Kirk says he has the kind of quality experience you are looking for in these kinds of games.  “Here's got the experience.  He is one of our only two seniors and he knows how to work to get outs.  When he gets behind, he doesn't get flustered.  A lot of kids can fold, he doesn't, he's been in the pressure situation.  He's been on this field before.  Just big leadership from him,” said Kirk.

          Plymouth got on the board first when Jarrett Burrer walked to open the game and eventually scored on an error.

          In the bottom of the first South Central got a leadoff triple from Cole Frankart and two Plymouth errors led to a (2-1) Trojans lead.

          It became (4-1) in the third when three more Plymouth errors combined with RBI singles from Weston June and Caiden Wilson led to two runs for the Trojans.

          Plymouth would add runs in the top of fourth, on an RBI double by Garrett Bishop, and the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Elliott Hall.

          However, things then imploded on the Big Red.

          Plymouth had eight errors on the day and coach Jarrod Furr says they can’t win doing that.  “We talked about that before the game in order to beat South Central, who's a very good hitting team, we’re going to have to play clean baseball.  That's been our M.O. all year.  We've got to play clean baseball and we've got to come up with the timely hit and unfortunately, we didn't do either,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Then we had the one explosive inning that that they went off on and it kind of just killed morale there.  When you give up eight and it’s a close ballgame, it’s a one run ballgame at the time, and we're in it, we're right there and then things just started going badly and we couldn't right it.”

          The eight run sixth for South Central started with a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly and Kirk says they can execute that small ball game.  “We have a couple kids that can just straight out bunt the ball.  They sometimes ask if they should bunt in this situation.  We tell them it's up to you.  You see the field, see where the players are playing and if you think you can get one down the line go for it and they execute it perfectly,” said Kirk.

          Kirk says they were able to take advantage of the Plymouth mistakes.  “We told them at the beginning you have got to be aggressive.  It's a bigger field and when balls get passed through to not be overly aggressive where we’re getting thrown out and they executed that to perfection as well.  Balls are going by and we have got to keep taking bases and that's what they did,” he said.

          Plymouth is a very young ballclub and Furr says the future is bright for the Big Red.  “At the beginning of the year we didn't know what we were going to have.  We had 15 guys total come out for the program, so no JV.  We cut the JV program right off the rip.  With only 15 there's no way you can run a JV.  A lot of these guys could have benefited from JV pitching, a lot of the guys that didn't get to play much.  In order to get better you have got to play baseball, that's the only way to get better is experience.  So, we weren't quite sure at the beginning of the season what we're going to have and then things started clicking, things started rolling.  Our underclassmen really out performed themselves.  Jarrett Burrer had one of the best years on the mound and at the plate that that I've coached.  He's a bulldog, he's a great kid, and he’s only a sophomore.  Our starting first baseman is only a sophomore.  Our starting shortstop, not at the beginning of year, but here tonight is a freshman.  Our centerfielder is a sophomore.  So, of the five seniors, four of them started pretty much every day.  Our starting catcher is a freshman.  So, we just have got to get the numbers.”

 

Published 5/23/24

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Northmor Advances to Regional

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          Northmor has qualified for the regional baseball tournament for the first time since Michael Jordan ended his unspectacular baseball career.

          They hammered Fairfield Christian Academy (9-3) on Wednesday evening at Big Walnut High School to qualify for the regional for the first time since 1995.

          The Golden Knights (23-6) put together an 11 hit attack and coach Buck Workman says it was nice to get some runs on the board.  “I think we scored in the first four innings.  A lot of it with two outs, so those are big runs and we needed that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It’s been a minute since we were putting some runs on the board.  We have been winning games 2-1 and 1-0, but it was just nice from coaching standpoint to let the boys relax a little bit.”

          Fairfield Christian scored a run in the top of the first and Northmor responded with three.  Fairfield Christian scored another run in the top of the second and then Northmor got four.

          Workman says it was important to respond.  “The fact that they did that our boys could easily been like alright they're not going away, but we just kept putting runs on the board.  It just increased the confidence as each inning went on for us,” he said.

          Drew Hammond got the win for the Golden Knights on Wednesday.  Workman says he didn’t have hie best stuff early, but he made the right adjustments.  “Drew kind of came out early and he was not his usual self in terms of his control maybe and he kind of took a little bit off his fastball, but once he got settled in that fastball picked up.  I think he had 10 K’s in five 2/3 innings, so that's what he's capable of doing,” said Workman.

          Northmor will play Russia in a regional semifinal next Thursday at Cincinnati Princeton High School.

          Workman says they are looking forward to the challenge.  “The alternative is not very exciting, so we'll go over where we got to play, but it's two and half hours away.  So, see we'll see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 5/23/24

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Highland Brings Down Academy

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          Highland scored four times in the bottom of the fifth and rallied to beat Columbus Academy (6-4) Tuesday evening in a district semifinal in division III.

          They will play Newark Catholic on Thursday afternoon at Big Walnut in the district final.  Newark Catholic beat Know Morrow Athletic Conference champion East Knox (5-0) on Tuesday in the other semifinal.

          Coach Donnie Kline says in the face of adversity his kids never gave up.  “We gave up four runs (Tuesday) and all in one inning and all with two outs, so tip cap to Columbus Academy.  They were aggressive and they did a fantastic job, but our boys showed grit, they showed fight and they continued to chip away,” he said.

          Kline says the Fighting Scots kept attacking.  “I think at this level you get 21 outs and I think there's a fine line of being uber exuberant and trying to be too excited and then it's being patient and then just trying to wait for your time to strike.  I think the mark of any team that is tough is they find a way to win late,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “These guys kept battling.  We were down to eight outs down three runs and the boys found a way to win.  So, they kept battling and there was this kind of a professional approach where they just kept attacking and coming after the Academy pitchers and did a good job.  I was really proud of the boys.”

          Hayden Kline had three hits for Highland on Tuesday.  Kort Sears and Jayden Collins each had two.  Collins drove in two runs.  Kline and Sears each had an RBI.

Highland (25-3), the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, has played a touch schedule and Kline really thinks that helped them on Tuesday.  “I think the strategy we have most years that we had a tough league in the “MOAC”, but our non-league schedule is really tough.  We try to present the boys with opportunities to play some of the more prestigious programs in Central Ohio and put the boys in situations that are really going to test them.  So, we these situations it's not the first time they've been tested.  It's not the first time that they've seen good pitching, good fielding and good defense, so they just kept plugging along, working and finding ways to score some runs late and that was a very exciting baseball game.”

 

Published 5/22/24

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Wooster Gets Past Medina

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          Wooster got a measure of revenge on Tuesday when they beat Medina (2-1) in a division I district semifinal played at Brookside Reservation.

          Now, they have a chance to play Cleveland St. Ignatius, a team they beat last year in the same game, in the district final on Thursday.

          Medina beat the Generals last year in the regional semifinal, but coach Steve Young says this year they were more ready.  “It was a good ballgame.  We knew what we were up against because last year we saw them in the regional semis and same pitcher.  We threw the same pitcher.  So, (Tuesday) night, we were a little bit cleaner.  We executed a little bit better and sometimes you know that's baseball.  So, proud of our guys, proud of the preparation, proud of guys doing whatever the team needed them to do.  Play a little bit selfless.  We'll see what happens on Thursday,” he said.

          Young says there is no question they were thinking about last year’s loss to Medina.  “That's one of those where it's really fueled us all for almost a full calendar year.  Last year regional semis and go to Gilmour Academy and just felt like we didn’t really play our best and execute.  We were kind of out of our game.  We talked about it in our exit interviews last year, all fall, all winter and preparation in the spring and it just kind of fell into place.  We played them again this year and we were very, very well prepared.  The guys were super excited for the opportunity to go play a good team and they did what was needed.  We didn't really have a whole lot of firepower (Tuesday) night, but we pitched it well, played good defense, had some good base running and had timely hitting and we came out on top.  So, we'll take it anyway we can get it and just know that we have a big opponent ahead of us.”

          Last year, Wooster beat St. Ignatius (3-2) in a district final.  In a regular season game this year on May 4, the Wildcats smoked Wooster (11-1).

          Young says they know they can compete.  “To be quite honest it's really no coincidence that we scrimmage them every year and play them every year.  We try and get eyes on them multiple times a year.  Last year, we got the big win in the district championship.  We know that's going to be very, very fresh in their minds, the forefront of their minds.  So, similar to us against Medina (Tuesday).  It's going to be Ignatius against us on Thursday, so big task ahead. We know the challenge ahead,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “They have got just a ton of talent.  Very well coached team.  Their coach got his 400th win this year.  So, everything on paper maybe appears to be a mismatch, but we didn't really care.  We want to go play, we want to go compete, we want to play the best in order to try and accomplish your goals.  Everyone has played tough games.  So, this time of year you want to play tough games, you want to play good opponents and that's what we have in front of us on Thursday.  (Wednesday) have a good day of practice, good day of prep, have our scouting reports ready and we'll go play and see what happens.”

 

Published 5/22/24

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Hillsdale Scores Late; Beats Mapleton

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          Hillsdale put together a big rally on Tuesday evening and beat Mapleton (9-6) in a division IV district semifinal play at Tri-C in the Cleveland area.

          They will play Ashtabula St. John, a (12-2) winner over McDonald on Tuesday, in the district final.

          Coach Jason Snow says down three runs going to the bottom of the fifth they got busy with the bats.  “We fell behind 5-2 in that fifth when they had put their four run inning on us we answered and we got it back to five even going to the sixth and that kind of settled us down. We had some big hits.  Brylan Jarvis had a big game for us and drove in some runs.  We got a little more patient.  We made them work and drew a couple walks and found our way on base,” said Snow.

          Jarvis had three RBI.

          Snow says that was an important shift in momentum.  “If we go 1-2-3 in that bottom of the fifth there and they keep the momentum it's looking a little more challenging.  The second part of that is we got those three and then we went out and went 1-2-3 in the sixth and came back and got a big four run inning to pretty much put the game away in the bottom of the sixth,” he said.

          Momentum can be a big factor in baseball and Snow says they able to get rolling and the kids kind of fed off each other.  “The thing we've noticed if we get a big hit, it just rubs off on the other kids and it's hard to stem the tide sometimes when you get confidence in your players and they see the kid ahead them get the big hit or draw a walk and everybody just wants to keep following up it's a good at bat.  It went well for us and we got rolling and it just kept going and going,” he said.

          When it comes to Ashtabula St. John, Snow says they know some things, but not much about the pitcher their facing.  “We got a chance to watch them (Tuesday) and they are very fundamental.  They hit ball pretty well in their first game, moved a couple runners over.  They do a great job of doing the little things backing kids up, backing up throws from the outfield, they got some key bunts down in their first game and they extended their lead,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “The thing we don't know, we don't know about their pitcher, we don't know who their next pitcher will be and what that'll bring to us.  It's pretty much like a normal season.  We'll go in and take care of doing a little bit better job for us.  We didn't make some routine plays (Tuesday).  We gave up too many unearned runs and we've got to clean that up to give ourselves an opportunity to get a big “W.”

 

Published 5/22/24

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Northmor Gets it in Extras

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          Northmor pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday evening and the Golden Knights edged Mechanicsburg (2-1) in a division IV district semifinal played at Northmor.

          They will play Fairfield Christian, an (8-7) winner over Marion Elgin Monday, in the district final on Wednesday at Big Walnut High School.

          The Baltimore Orioles of Earl Weaver won games in a certain way, so did the St. Louis Cardinals of Whitey Herzog, and so do the Northmor Golden Knights of Buck Workman.

          They may not be sexy, they may not be flashy, they just play good, solid, fundamental baseball and that was the difference Monday.

          “That’s what you're going to get.  You're going to get a pitching, defense and we're going to try to scrap couple runs and get the job done,” said Workman.

          In the pivotal bottom of the eighth inning, Drew Hammond led off with a double down the leftfield line, Billy Bowlin dropped down a bunt down the third base line successfully sacrificing Hammond to third and the third baseman’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, and Jack Bowdre was walked to load the bases with no one out.

          Enter catcher Garrett Harvey.  He grounded the ball to first, he as out, but the throw to the plate was too late to tag the sliding Hammond with the winning run.

          Workman says Hammond was the igniter.  “That was huge and Drew (Hammond) did the same thing in the prior game.  It was 0-0 game and he got a double to lead off and that just lets you do so much more offensively,” he said.

          Workman says they made they key plays in the eighth.  “Billy was kind of in his own head (Monday), but man he stepped up when we needed him to with a two strike bunt there to get the job done and even force them to make a bad throw.  So, bunting is huge and we have got to get those down,” said Workman.

          Northmor tied the game (1-1) in the third when Trevor Brubaker walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on a throwing error.

          The Golden Knights (22-6) only got four hits.  Workman says they perhaps lacked a little discipline at the plate.  “I think the biggest problem (Monday) was he was sneaky fast.  I don't think he was overpowering, but he lived high in the zone and we just couldn't lay off those pitches above our hands is what kind of got us in trouble early in the game. They're kind of saying we kind of lived high (Monday) too on the mound.  It's just one of those days where the hitters were struggling to see the ball,” said Workman.

          What they didn’t lack was pitching, which has been the backbone of the Golden Knights all year.  Grant Bentley and Brubaker combined to allow only four hits.  Bentley went the first six, striking out six, and Brubaker pitched the sixth and seventh to get the win.  “Grant and Trevor have been two of our horses all year.  Grant’s been here for four years and Trevor for two.  I talked to Grant.  I got Trevor warmed up in the sixth.  I said I'm going to let you go one more Grant, but he got up to 87 and it was wrapping around to the four times with the order,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I have got complete confidence in Trevor to do the job too.  So, we can show them something different.  Grant understood and he was completely behind us.  It was the right move.”

          Workman says his kids just know how to win.  “These guys have put a lot of grey hair on me this year that's for sure, but that's what it's about.  It doesn't matter how you get there, you just got to get there,” he said.

          This is the first time this reporter has covered a baseball game live at Northmor, which has a beautiful, relatively new baseball field.  By the way, why isn’t named Workman Field?  It should be, Buck has built one of the more consistent baseball programs in the area and he has been the constant in the district over the last quarter of a century.  He is humble and probably would be resistant to it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

 

Published 5/21/24

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Northmor Gets Past Madison Christian

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          Northmor won a section title in division IV on Thursday evening as they scored a run in the bottom of the sixth and beat Madison Christian (1-0) to advance to the districts.

          Veteran coach Buck Workman says it was a little tense, but they got they got job done.  “We play a lot of games like this.  I mean sometimes our bats go away.  We always rely on our pitching and our defense.  It doesn't make it any less nerve wracking that's for sure, but we were able to get this job done again,” he said.

          Workman says they just got fantastic pitching form two guys on Thursday.  “Drew Hammond, one of our seniors, he was out there, and he did a tremendous job.  He went six innings, he threw about 101 pitches, I think, and it was hot out,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We went to Trevor (Brubaker), we had that little 1-0 lead and went with Trevor in the seventh inning and he struck out the side.  So, those two combined had a really nice outing for us on the mound.”

          In the sixth, they were able to push across that one run.  Workman says they got a big hit from a freshman.  “Drew led off the inning with a double in the gap to left center.  He then got bunted over by Billy Bowlin and scored later on a little single from Bowdre and that was the difference in the game.  So, it was a freshman that they got that hit, so it was nice to see that happen,” said Workman.

          They will play Mechanicsburg in the district semis next week.

 

Published 5/17/24

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Ashland Rallies Late

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          Ashland scored three times combined in the fifth and sixth innings and they rallied to edge Toledo St. John’s (3-2) in a division I sectional final at Ashland on Thursday evening.

          Coach Rick Gough says they were behind early, but they found a way to win the game.  “Hats off to Toledo St. John's.  They're much better than their record.  It was a battle.  They put a couple on the board early in the game and we were able to come back in the fifth and sixth and take the lead.  We've got a bunch of grinders here at Ashland.  I'm proud of the kids.  They don't give up, they battle, and they find a way to get it done,” said Gough.

          Gough says their pitching and defense kept them in the game and gave them a chance.  “The key to the game was the fact that we didn't let them put any crooked numbers up.  A run here, a run there and it kept us able to do some things on the bases with the game being close,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Hats off to the defense (Thursday).  We didn't make an error we were able to scratch out five hits.  I think St. John’s had three.  Luke Bryant did an excellent job on the hill.  Went seven to get the win.”

          Ashland (18-6) will take on Perrysburg () in a division I district semifinal in Bowling Green next Wednesday.

          Gough says it’s going to be tough game, but he believes in his kids.  “We have to go up to Carter Park and play a very good Perrysburg squad, who was the fourth seed.  So, it will be fun, it will be a night game.  Obviously, they will be throwing their number one and Luke will get another opportunity to pitch on Wednesday night.  We'll just have to see how it goes,” he said.

 

Published 5/17/24

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Lexington Cashes in

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          Lexington won their tournament opener on Thursday evening in beating Kenton (7-3) to advance to Friday’s division II sectional final.

          They will travel to Wapakoneta on Friday to meet the Redskins.

          Coach Jeff Strickler says they calmed down a little after they scored some runs.  “We got a bit of a slow start.  We left a bunch of guys in scoring position early in the game.  In the third inning, we finally broke through and got some runs across,” he told Swakonsports.com after the win, “After that it just seemed like the kids just settled down and we're just quite so nervous and just played and made plays.”

          Lexington (10-18) has had some issues with clutch hitting this spring, but Strickler says they have been getting better.  “The issues that we've had a lot this year leaving runners like on second and third situations with less than two outs and not getting any runs in.  Here of late it seems like we've been doing a much better job and scoring some more runs and not leaving too many people out there,” he said.

          Wapakoneta (15-5) shared the Western Buckeye League title this season.

          Strickler knows they are going to be a big challenge.  “They're a very good team, very solid, very fundamental.  They have a really good pitcher.  We're going to go in there with the mindset that we're trying to attack and just go toe to toe with them, but they're pretty good,” said Strickler.

 

Published 5/17/24

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Flyers Win in the Seventh

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          Norwalk St. Paul scored twice in the bottom half of the seventh inning and they knocked off Old Fort (2-1) in a division IV sectional final played on Thursday evening.

          They will play top seeded Tiffin Calvert in the district semis next week.

          Coach Aaron Fries says he would rather it be an easier game, but he knew it wasn’t going to be.  “I mean from the grey hair perspective, I'd rather win 10-0, but it was a good ball game.  It's kind of what I expected.  Old Fort is a veteran baseball team with a lot of good quality baseball players so I expected it to be a close game.  It was exactly what I expected it to be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I thought their pitcher did a really nice job of really keeping our hitters off balance, pounding the strike zone and keeping leadoff batters off the bases.  We really didn't even have a leadoff hitter on till about the sixth and then finally we had some opportunities there in the seventh that we took advantage of.”

          Trailing (1-0) going to their last at bat, Fries says they were able to make some things happen.  “We had a couple hits in there, we had a walk and at some point we had bases loaded there.  We had just gotten a run in and Kole Maxwell, our four hitter, hit a ball to the second baseman and he made a nice play and made a nice throw the plate, but our kid got a great jump.  He had a great lead and just beat the force play at the plate.  So, really exciting way to win.  Obviously, I felt for Old Fort as well.  I've been on the other side of those games and it’s tough to lose that way, but it's a great high school baseball game,” said Fries.

          Freis says it was the kind of high school baseball game that you expect in the tournament.  “I think two really quality programs.  I have a lot of respect for Old Fort.  We played them three years in a row now in the tournament.  So, I was very familiar with the kids that were in that other dugout as I've seen them for three years.  So, it was a great game and we're just really fortunate to come out on the winning side of it,” he said.

 

Published 5/17/24

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Calvert Pounds St. Mary’s

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          Tiffin Calvert exorcised some demons on Thursday evening when they smoked Sandusky St. Mary’s (11-1) in a division IV sectional final.

          Last week, the Panthers beat Calvert (4-2) knocking them out of sole possession of first place in the River Division of the Sandusky Conference.

          Coach Matt Coleman says this time they were ready to play.  “It was fun. They showed a little bit of grit.  They had a chance to play a team that we didn't come ready to play last Thursday at Heidelberg.  They showed some grit (Thursday),” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday night, “It was a 2-1 game going into the fifth.  We were able to be patient there in the fifth inning and then came up with some big hits and open it up with nine runs there in the fifth and sixth, so it was fun,”

          Coleman says they had better focus this time.  “There was plenty of motivation, should have been in that game, still in the league race at the top, but that’s high school baseball.  Credit to them they battled (Thursday).  They put some balls in play and had pressure all night on Blake (Coleman).  Last week, we weren't really that focused I didn't think.  The fun part about baseball is any team can win on any given day.  It was fun (Thursday) to just win and advance,” said Coleman.

          Calvert will play Norwalk St. Paul, a (2-1) winner over Old Fort Thursday, a district semifinal next week.

          Coleman says at this point you are just looking for wins.  “Talked to coach (Matt) Palm, the University of Findlay coach, and a family friend, and had the pleasure of coaching Nick last year.  He said there's never a bad win.  So, we were happy to continue on.  Win by one or win by 10 at this point in the season you're just looking to win and advance,” he said.

 

Published 5/17/24

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Mt. Vernon on to the Districts

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          Mt. Vernon, the Ohio Cardinal Conference champion, blanked Logan (7-0) on Wednesday evening in the division I sectional final.

          They will play Olentangy Liberty in the district semifinal next week.

          Konner Daughriety thew a shutout for the Jackets (20-3), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Wednesday.

          Coach Nate Hunt again complemented Daughriety on his approach on Wednesday.  “He's done everything we've asked him to do.  He's done everything he's done all year.  He just continues to just get more comfortable on the mound.  He's kind of bought into the starter role of you don't have to throw hard the first inning, the second.  It's a longevity piece.  I think his last three starts have been complete game.  Same thing with Kayden Packard.  His past five games have been complete games.  So, I think their trusting in our pitching coach Josh White to say we want you to be in there in the fifth and the sixth and then get into our bullpen.  So, he's just getting better and better,” said Hunt.

          Hunt says they did a solid job adjusting to what they were seeing from Logan’s pitching staff.  “Logan had a great game plan coming in.  They had a shift on in the outfield where their rightfielder was in almost right center, centerfielder was in left center leftfielder was on the line and then they just kept jamming us inside.  We had to adjust,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We jumped on them early and then their pitcher kind of settled down.  So, they had a great game plan moving forward.  I still think that you know the bunting piece of it, the small ball piece, played a role and just us kind of creating chaos on the bases forcing those guys to make the throws, forcing the catcher to make the throws.”

          Hunt adds that the small ball game, especially stealing bases, was a big factor for them also.  “Just kind of the same kind of piece that we've been doing all year of forcing guys to be uncomfortable, especially when it comes to our guys at first base.  We ended up stealing more bags than we wanted to because our guys were able to read that pitcher and get good jumps on their primaries and secondaries and it was a fun night,” he said.

 

Published 5/15/24

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South Central Claims Piece of Firelands

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          South Central had to wait a little bit, but Wednesday they claimed a co-title in the Firelands Conference after a (9-5) win at Monroeville.

          It was a game that was rained out last month and moved to Wednesday.  The Trojans share the title with Norwalk St. Paul at (11-3) in conference play.

          Coach Nick Kirk says the players have worked hard.  “That's a testament to the players and they deserve it.  They put in the extra time to put in the work.  They believe in each other.  They stayed positive when we were on slide there in the middle of the season.  They are battle tested and they were ready for the grilling season that baseball is,” said Kirk.

          Kirk says they were able to sting the ball with the bats Wednesday.  “It was one of our better hitting performances of the year, which you kind of want going into the end of the season with the tournament started,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Wednesday night, “We play (Thursday) against a  good Buckeye Central team for sectional title.  It's nice to be able to go into that game after (Wednesday) with getting the bats going and playing some good baseball.”

          South Central (14-8) plays hosts to Buckeye Central (8-13) in a division IV sectional final on Thursday.

          Kirk says they will have to turn in a good effort to win.  “I know that they're going to be well coached.  Coach (Chad) Jensen’s been around for a while now.  They're going to come ready to win and that's the type of ball team that he's put together for many years now.  We have to come ready to play.  Like I have said from the majority of the season now anybody can lose any given day and we have to show up and play the baseball that we know we're capable of playing, “ he said.

 

Published 5/15/24

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Crestview Advances With Win Over Crawford

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          Crestview took down Colonel Crawford (7-2) Wednesday evening in a sectional semifinal in division III.

          They will play another Northern 10 Athletic Conference team on Friday as they visit Wynford to take on the Royals in the sectional final.

          Coach Don Keener says they got a fine effort on the mound from junior Tyson Ringler.  “Tyson Ringler pitched for us (Wednesday).   He kept us in the game.  He had six K’s, but at the same time he was mixing it in and keep them off balance and we got a great effort from him,” said Keener.

          The Cougars (12-11) got four runs in the first inning off of Crawford and Keener says they had a good approach at the plate.  “We got some timely hits, I thought.  The kids came out firing that first inning.  We got four early on.  Kind of slowed down a little bit, but they still chipped a few here and there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I thought they did a nice job taking approaches at the plate.”

          Wynford (17-8) shared second in the “N10”, Crestview was third in the Firelands Conference, and Keener knows they will have to be in top from.  “I mean they're really good, so we're going to have to be at our best and give them all we have.  We'll see how it ends up,” he said.

 

Published 5/15/24

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Highland Takes “MOAC” Outright

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          Highland doesn’t have a very good baseball team this year, they have a great baseball program.

          A (1-0) win over Marion Harding on Tuesday evening gave the Fighting Scots (22-3,11-3), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, the outright Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title, their third in a row.  They have been in the league only years.

          Meatloaf said two out of three ain’t bad, but Highland has been better.

          Coach Donnie Kline says he is very proud of what they have done.  “I think we have three goals every year and the first goal is to win the league and it’s a competitive league, the second goal is to win 20 games and the third goal is to have a successful tournament run. It was a really satisfying year the boys had and considering how tough and how balanced the “MOAC” here it was a really good win it kind of kept a fun season in the league,” he said.

          The only run in the game was scored in the bottom of the first inning on a clutch hit by senior Hayden Kline.

          Coach Kline says they had other chances to get on the board, but couldn’t cash in.  “I guess we call it old school baseball.  We scored one of the first and both pitchers pitched a really good game, Zach Church for Highland and Austin Allen for Marion Harding.  They both pitched a really good game.  It was one of those old school pitchers duels.  They had about 20 strikeouts and it was just a really good game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win. “We had a clutch, two out hit in the first inning.  Hayden Kline got a single up the middle.  I didn't know it would be the only run of the game, but it was.  There was some action later.  Both teams were able to threaten and get guys in scoring position, but both defenses kind of a stiffened up, toughened up and neither team was able to score anymore runs.”

          Kline says both teams had golden opportunities in the late going, but just couldn't get one across.  “In the sixth inning we had bases loaded nobody and Allen worked out of out, he did a fantastic job.  We couldn't plate one, which is one of our hallmarks being able to score with runners in scoring position, but we couldn't do it.  Then we go to the top of the seventh and they have runners on second and third with nobody out and we held them.  Zach Church had a really heads up kind of a high IQ play.  A full arm fake on a safety squeeze and we get the runner on third in a rundown and that kind of took a little wind out of their sails.  It was just a classic, old school baseball game.  It was a lot of fun,” said Kline.

 

Published 5/15/24

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Clear Fork Blanks Willard; Readies for Postseason

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          Clear Fork wants to take some momentum into the postseason and they got a good win on Tuesday evening in beating Willard (10-0) in six innings at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          Coach Gabe Kennedy said the Colts had the right approach.  “This is this is tournament week.  Willard was kind of looking for a game to pick up and we were looking for a game too, so it worked out for us.  We were able to play a good competitive team (Tuesday) and they have got some very good players.  Clear Fork showed up (Tuesday) and our attitude and effort and our energy was up.  Right now, it looks like we're getting closer and closer and we're ready to go for the tournament,” said Kennedy.

          Weather permitting, Clear Fork will play its final Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Wednesday against River Valley.

          Kennedy says they want to continue to play fundamental baseball.  “It's one of those things where no matter who we're playing, no matter what situation is we want to you know fight everything out pitch by pitch.  We want to control what can control and that is our attitude and effort and that's what we focus on,” he said.

          The Colts (21-5), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, are the top seed in their division II district.

          Last year, Clear Fork’s tournament stay was brief as they lost to Bellevue in their opener.

          Kennedy says they have to be ready to play.  “We're going to play Lima Bath or Elida.  They played each other a couple of weeks ago and both very good baseball teams, tough baseball teams,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “You talk about everybody's got an ace, everybody's got some dudes and both of those schools do as well.  We'll find out (Wednesday) night who we have.  We get to host on Friday night hopefully this year turns out different than last year.”

 

Published 5/15/24

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Buckeye Downs Crestline

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          Buckeye Central opened up tournament play with a (6-3) win over visiting Crestline in the division IV sectional semifinals on Tuesday evening.

          The Bucks (8-13) scored three times in the fifth and two more in the sixth to take a (6-0) lead.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they were able to get ducks on the pound.  “Crestline’s pitcher pitched really well and really had a good game.  We were able to get some base runners late.  It’s a tournament game and that's the bottom line you need to get base runners to score runs and we were able to do that.  We knew Crestline would give us their best effort and that's what we got,” said Jensen.

          Issac Hiler had two hits and two RBI for the Bucks and also got the win on the mound giving up two earned runs on three hits.

          Jensen says he got out of a jam in the seventh.  “Issac Hiler pitched a great game for us.  He had 13 strikeouts and pitched really well.  He got a little bit of a jam in the seventh, but he's a gamer, he battled and finished strong.  That's what we would expect that of him,” he said.

          Buckeye makes the trip to South Central to face the Trojans, co-leaders in the Firelands Conference, in the sectional final on Thursday.

          Jensen says they are going to need to do a lot of good things.  “South Central is a good team you know and we know what to expect.  I got a chance to watch them and they are a really good team.  Our kids know what we have got to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “We have just got to continue to do the little things, put the ball in play and throw strikes and make routine plays.  Again, I think our kids will be ready to go and I think we're excited about playing another tournament game.  We'll give them our best shot.”

 

Published 5/15/24

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Clear Fork Secures a Share

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          Clear Fork downed River Valley (5-1) on Monday evening and the win gave the Lady Colts no less than a share of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title.

          Shelby can get a piece of the title if they beat Marion Pleasant this week.  Clear Fork and Shelby spilt this spring and so far that has been the only loss for each in the league.

          Coach Chris Clapper says he is proud of his team.  “We said at the beginning of the year we wanted to win the conference.  We knew we could at least compete at the top and pulling (Monday) night’s win out this is big for us,” he said.

          Clapper says it was a nail bitter until they had a big inning late.  “Both pitchers (Monday) night pitched really well.  It was a tight game.  It was tied at 1-1 through the fifth, I think.  We had a good inning offensively and things started going our way,” he told Swakonsports.com after the win, “Hats off to both pitchers.  We really struggled a little bit at the beginning and it took us a little longer to adjust than I hoped.  River Valley’s pitcher pitched a great game and so did Miley Schafer.”

          Schafer is just a freshman and she has had a sensational year for the Lady Colts.

          Clapper says they were able to get to River Valley with some small ball and that was the difference.  “It's a couple times through the lineup and we just weren't getting timed up.  Then I decided to start playing some small ball and trying to cause some chaos and it worked out in our favor,” said Clapper.

          Clear Fork (16-8), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, plays Norwalk, the “SBC” Lake co-champion, in the division II district semifinals on Tuesday in Willard.  The Lady Truckers beat Shelby (6-5) in eight innings in a sectional final at Shelby last Friday.

          Clapper says they need their best game.  “It’s another tough game (Tuesday).  We have got to stay locked in and focused and play our game and I think we have a good shot,” he said.

 

Published 5/14/24

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Ashland Rallies Past Hillsdale

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          Ashland picked up another solid win on tournament week as they beat Hillsdale (7-2) in a non-conference game on Monday evening.

          Hillsdale is a very good small school program and Ashland coach Rick Gough says the game will benefit both.  “There's no doubt it was a good win.  I mean coach (Jason) Snow does a great job with his kids and Hillsdale is a good program.  I was glad that when I reached out to him and he decided we would play.  They play on Thursday and we play on Wednesday, so it was good tune up for the tournament game,” he said.

          Ashland scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take control of the game.

          Gough says a defensive play gave them the momentum.  “I mean it was a battle.  We got a 2-0 lead and they tied it up.  I think actually in the in the fourth inning they were about to take the lead and we made an excellent relay from left field and threw a guy out at the plate which gave us a little bit of momentum,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We found a way to get it done.  I mean my kids have battled all year long and we make mistakes, we don't run the bases well sometimes, but when it's all said and done we find a way to get it done.”

          The Arrows (17-6) will host Toledo St. John’s in a division I tournament game on Wednesday.

          Gough says they are going to have to play well to win.  “That's going to be another battle there.  I am not sure exactly what the record is now, but they were the 12 seed at the time of the seeding.  They were 6-16.  They play in a in a tough league up there in Toledo and they've lost a lot of one run games, 2-1, 3-2.  So, it's going to be interesting.  We've got our work cut out out for us,” said Gough.

 

Published 5/14/24

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Mt. Vernon Wins “OCC” Title

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          Mt. Vernon edged New Philadelphia (2-1) Wednesday evening at Yellow Jacket Field to win an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          The Jackets were in a mood to party and why not.  They have won 16 straight baseball games.  The streak started after back to back one run losses to Ashland in “OCC” play on April 5 and 6, more than a month ago.

          Wooster has a chance to finish alone in second in the conference after beating Madison (8-0) on Wednesday.  They play Lexington on Thursday.  New Philadelphia, who started the week tied with Mt. Vernon, finishes two games back.  The Jackets won (12-1) on the road on Tuesday.

          It was kind of a going away party too.  It was Mt. Vernon’s last baseball game as part of the “OCC”.  They are moving next year to the Licking County League, a league that is centered in the Central District.  In their years in the “OCC” the Jackets were the only school in that Central District.

          Coach Nate Hunt says over the last month they have just been focused on their goal of winning the “OCC” title.  “It’s unreal, unreal… it's a surreal moment because just like I told the guys right after the Ashland game when I said everything that we wanted to do, everything we wanted to accomplish, was still in front of us if we didn't feel sorry for ourselves and find a way to overcome this and here we are, we did it,” said Hunt.

          If there was an MVP trophy handed out for the game, it would have to go to starting pitcher Kayden Packard.  He went the distance in scattering six hits and striking out four Quakers.  That strikeout total doesn’t seem that high, but he had the big pitch when he needed it the most.

          Mt. Vernon (19-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, was leading (2-0) going to top of the sixth when New Philadelphia got on the board on a two out single by Mason Caterina and an RBI double by Owen Courteny.  Noah Ballon got an infield hit putting runners at first and second.  However, after a conference on the mound, Packard struck out Keaton Fausel on three pitches.

          Again, in the seventh. New Philly got a runner on, but Packard struck out Mac Steele to end the game and the on field celebration began.

          Hunt says his best way to describe Packard is he is a competitor.  “It's funny, he texted me this morning like 7:30 and said you ready to win an “OCC” title?  I'm ready to compete and that is that has been his M.O.,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I'm ready to compete, I'm ready to compete, whatever it is, whatever you're asking me to do, he's a competitor, that's the greatest compliment you can get in sports, he's a competitor.”

          Mt. Vernon started the scoring in the bottom of the third when shortstop Konner Daughriety walked and stole second.  He scored on a RBI single by catcher Ezra Kurek.

          They added another in the fourth.  Speedy Jonny Askew started the inning with a single off Quakers starter Courtney.  He moved to second when Isiah Columber bunted for a hit.  Canden Thiebert sacrificed the runners to second and third.  Askew would score when Jagger Dohn hit a shallow pop fly to right field, which was caught over the shoulder by second baseman.

          Hunt says their execution of small ball won them the game and the title.  “You get later into the season in important games small ball matters and small ball mattered (Wednesday) and that's what got us the victory,” he said.

 

Published 5/09/24

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Madison Wins Tournament Opener

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          Madison got past Oregon Clay (3-0) in a sectional final in division I on Wednesday evening on their home field.

          They will play Findlay in a district semifinal next Tuesday at Bowling Green State University.

          Coach Tim Niswander says pitcher Layla Azmoun was again outstanding, allowing six hits, and their defense was just as good.  “The last couple days our pitcher Layla Azmoun has been just bringing up strikeout after strikeout after strikeout.  We had a game Monday and we didn't have that.  We played Clear Fork Monday and she only struck out five and defensively we thought we played really, really well behind her, which can be a concern when you have a kid striking out 14, 15 at night.  So, it was nice to see that.  I think (Wednesday) was almost an exact carbon copy of that except she pitched better getting the shutout.  She only had five strikeouts, but our kids played just absolutely phenomenal defense behind her.  The top of the order didn't hit very well, but the bottom really did come through for us.  So, it was a great all around win,” said Niswander.

          Niswander says the bottom of the Lady Rams order was big for them against Clay.  “Our eight hitter (Emma Stankovich) hit an RBI double off the fence.  Our seven hitter had two hits. Allie Shrader, Libby Bekeleski and Emma Stankovich were the ones that really carried us (Wednesday) night.  Even Kendyll Kershner, who was in the nine hole, had a hit. We've told the kids that at some point, the top is going to carry us and at some point, the bottom is going to carry us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Hopefully, they'll be a stretch of games where everybody hits together and hopefully that starts next week.  We can carry that out for another couple of weeks.  It's really nice to get contributions from everybody and it's not just the same kids doing all the damage.”

          Madison (19-5), #2 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, stands in a share of second place, with Mt. Vernon, in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, a game behind rival Lexington.  They play Lex next week.

          Niswander says right now they are a confident team.  “Our kids right now are so confident.  You could see it every game and every play.  There was a point in the season early on, about games eight or nine, where it seemed like we were kind of walking on eggshells and afraid to make mistakes.  We finally sat down and had a discussion that those are going to happen and we're going to lose our minds over that. We are just going to keep playing and once they realized that that was actually the case they have just been lights out.  Hopefully, they continue to play that way because they do look really confident and they look really good,” he said.

 

Published 5/09/24

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Ontario Blanks Highland

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          Ontario put a bit of a road block in the plans of the Highland Fighting Scots… at least for now.

          They beat Highland (2-0) on Wednesday in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action.  A win by Fighting Scots would have given them an outright title.  Now, they need to beat Marion Harding on Saturday to secure that title.

          Clear Fork, Shelby and Galion, who trail by a game, are going to be pulling for the Presidents.  Harding actually handed Highland a (2-1) loss earlier this year.

          Ontario coach Mike Ellis says a win over Highland is always big.  “(Coach) Donnie (Kline) does a heck of a job with them.  They are well coached and they're always good year in year out,” said Ellis.

          Highland won (3-0) on Tuesday.

          Ellis says their pitching has been outstanding this week.  “I started Carter Walters and when he's on he's very hard to hit and he was on (Wednesday) night.  He was hitting his spots and kept them off balance and and we got the “W.”  I've been very proud in these last two games with my pitching.  Peyton Duzan, who took the loss (Tuesday), pitched really well,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win “The first inning they got a run on an error and then they scored playing small ball, which they're really good at in the third inning.  Then from there on we had zeros on the board.  Then we had seven zeros on the board (Wednesday).  So, that's 11 innings we shut them out.  So, I'm very proud of my pitching.”

          Ellis says the Warriors are pretty good when they are on their “A” game.  “We kind of showed (Wednesday) night that if we come ready to play that we can be a good team,” he said.

 

Published 5/09/24

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Lexington Nips Holmes

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          Lexington got past West Holmes (5-4) in Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball on Wednesday.

          Coach Jeff Strickler says the Minutemen (7-15,5-7) made some of the plays that they haven’t necessarily been making this year.  “(Wednesday) we did that.  This season we've lost seven games by one run.  To look back in those games and see opportunities that we missed, but (Wednesday) for the most part we took care of the opportunities that we had and it was a big win,” said Strickler.

          With the tournament staring next week, Strickler says they want to string together some good performances.  “We're looking at (Wednesday's) game and (Thursday) we have got Wooster, Hillsdale on Saturday and Madison on Monday.  We're looking at all these kind of like tournament games for us.  Use them as a warm up here to get ready to play Kenton next Wednesday,” he said.

          Their record isn’t what they want, but Strickler says their tough schedule has gotten them ready for the postseason.  “We play a really good, tough schedule with the conference we're in and the non conference teams that we play.  We’ve been playing very competitive teams, very good teams all year long,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I think it helped us out learning how to be competitive and how to maybe get over the hump and win some of those close ones.”

 

Published 5/09/24

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Wynford Gets Win Over Crawford

 

          Grant McGwire hit two home runs and Wynford outscored Colonel Crawford (15-6) on Wednesday evening in play in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach Tom Smith says they were able to get their offense going.  “We moved them around a little better.  Grant McGwire had two home runs, we had a couple, good successful bunts and put together a big inning.  So, little bit of everything,” said Smith.

          McGwire leads the “N10” with five home runs this season.  No other player has more than one.

          Wynford (15-8,10-4) has won six of its last eight games and Smith says they are staring to edge toward peak form.  “That's always the goal.  We're hoping to get there.  We've got about a week to get ready.  Hopefully, we can keep improving from here and have a good tournament run,” he said.

          The Royals are now done with league play, but Smith feels they have some good tests coming up as they get ready for the tournament.  “Our schedule is pretty full,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We play the Norwalk Truckers (Thursday), Pleasant Friday, Lucas Monday tuning up for sectionals.  Then we've already got a game scheduled for the following Monday against Tiffin Calvert hoping to be playing in the districts that week.”

 

Published 5/09/24

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Highland Gets its Share

 

          Highland has locked a piece of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference baseball title with a (3-0) shutout of the Ontario Warriors on Tuesday evening.

          They can win it out right with a win at Ontario on Wednesday or against Marion Harding on Saturday.

          Coach Donnie Kline says when won a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday behind Kort Sears.  “Right now, we're just at the clinch level, so we share it right now.  If we win one of the next two games we'll be out right.  We have two games to play.  It was a really good game.  It was actually kind of a pitcher’s duel, if you will.  The Ontario starter did a real nice job.  Kort Sears for us did a real nice job.  Allowed three hits in the entire game against a pretty potent Ontario offense.  I thought the boys played pretty well,” said Kline.

          Sears, Hayden Kline and Jace Brooks each had two hits for the Fighting Scots.

          Kline didn’t think it was their best game on Tuesday, but it was good enough.  “We didn't play our “A” game, probably B+ game, especially on offense.  Again, when you have a pitcher like Ontario starter (Peyton) Dzugan, who did a real nice job against us, it's hard to have your “A” game.  I felt we didn't compete the box as well as we should have at times, but again we were able to scratch a couple across early.  It was a 3-0 game. which is an old school baseball game.  Pretty clean on both sides.  A really fast game.  It was a good game.  (Tuesday) was easy one, (Wednesday) will be the hard one.”

          Highland (21-2,10-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, leads Clear Fork, Shelby and Galion by two games in the loss column.  Ontario is now three back.

          Kline feels his kids, especially the younger ones, have gotten a lot better this year.  “I think that's the goal of all coaches is that you want to continually get better as year goes on.  You want to play your best baseball at the end of the season.  We're getting close to that.  I think at the beginning of the season we had a lot of young guys.  We start four sophomore, so we're still actually pretty young team,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I think some of the guys thought you just go up there and swing the bat and you get hits.  That doesn't really play at the varsity level if you want to be competitive and compete for league titles you have to understand that your part of the offense and your role changes as a hitter, as a base runner, but at the end of the day a lot of these guys are trying to figure It out and it's a lot of fun.”

 

Published 5/08/24

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Wooster Keeps Going

 

          Wooster won again Tuesday, they edged Madison (3-1), and they need to do it again Wednesday and get some help.

          They trail Mt. Vernon by game going into the final Ohio Cardinal Conference games of the season.  Tuesday, the Jackets beat New Philadelphia (12-1) to lock up a share of the title.  If the Quakers win Wednesday, they will share the title too, something Wooster would do if they beat Madison.

          Coach Steve Young liked the Generals (14-4,10-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, approach on Tuesday.  “We're slowly building for the postseason tournament here.  I actually really, really liked our approach (Tuesday) night.  I liked a lot of our at bats.  We had a lot of very, very loud outs, a lot of barreled baseballs.  It was one of those nights where sometimes you hit it right to him and you have got to give their kid credit.  He pulled it up and threw three or four different pitches for strikes.  On the mound, really liked how we threw strikes ourselves.  Brady (Bowen) was right around 75 percent strikes, 80 percent first pitch strikes.  So, when we can get a get ahead of hitters and work however we'd like to when we’re ahead in the count.  That’s a lot easier than when your behind in the count 2-1, 3-1.  We’re building and it’s coming together a little bit.  We’ll what happens,” said Young.

          Young says that Bowen has been a warrior for them.  “Since his freshman year he's been huge for us.  He stepped in, honestly wasn't supposed to even be pitching league games his freshman year.  We had a guy go down and he stepped up and stepped in.  He just competes, he wants the ball, he asked for the ball in big games, he asked for the ball in away games.  He even says he likes to play the villain a little bit.  So, it's kind of his mentality which you love in a pitcher.  You love the competitiveness, the fire, the passion for the game.  On the field he just throws four pitches for a strike and can locate his spots.  He's been an absolute competitor for us for three years and we're happy he’s on our side,” he said.

          As far as defending the “OCC” crown, Young says all they can do is beat Madison.  “We had a real good run the last three years and this year we just had a few games we just weren’t as clean as we would like to have been or as we needed to be and got beat.  We haven't controlled our destiny for a while now, we've understood that.  To be quite honest, we have just tried to play the next game in front of us.  We've just talked to our guys about continuing to build for the postseason.  Whatever happens with the league happens with the league.  We don't control it, so we're not really going to worry about it and see what happens,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Mt. Vernon got a big win (Tuesday) night.  New Philly, they're competitors, they'll be ready to go (Wednesday).  Again, we have our own business to attend to.  The most important game in our season is the next one and that's (Wednesday) against Madison.  A good, well coached, fundamentally sound team that's going to scrap, claw and compete and we have got our hands full with them.  So, we'll just come to the field (Wednesday) and try and play clean, put our best foot forward and see what happens.”

 

Published 5/08/24

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St. Paul Claims Share

 

          Norwalk St. Paul will be no less than a co-champion in the Firelands Conference this year after a (6-2) win over Crestview on Tuesday evening.

          They share first place with South Central (12-8,10-3) in the standings.  However, the Trojans, who beat Mapleton (10-5) on Tuesday, still have a makeup game with Monroeville.  The Flyers (13-6,11-3) have completed their conference schedule.

          If Crestview and Mapleton had won Tuesday, the conference would have likely ended in a rare four tie.

          Coach Aaron Fries says Tuesday might have been their best performance of the season against the defending “FC” champs.  “It's a great feeling.  The kids I thought (Tuesday) night put together their most complete game as far as from a pitching, defense and clutch hitting perspective.  So, it was a great way to finish off a really tough and challenging conference season,” said Fries.

          On Monday, Crestview (11-10,9-5) had blanked the Flyers (8-0) to get with a game of the lead.

          Fries says they were not ready to play at a high level.  He says he was proud of the comeback Tuesday.  “Especially coming off the game we had (Monday) where I don't think we did anything right.  So, to come back (Tuesday) and be as good as we were that's just makes it really that much sweeter,” he said.

          Fries says they talked about the mistakes they made on Monday and they went out and corrected them.  “I think the saying goes you're either winning or you're learning.  I think we learned a little bit (Monday) about ourselves as far as what we needed to do.  We knew was going to be a tough challenge going over there to Crestview and we were going to have to put together a great game to win over there,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Tuesday, “When we didn't do that it was a little disappointing, but we talked about it.  We talked about what we learned from the experience and (Tuesday) we came back and really did a nice job of doing the things we didn't do on Monday.”

 

Published 5/08/24

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Crestview Takes Advantage

 

          Crestview remains in a three way tie for first place in the Firelands Conference softball standings after they belted Norwalk St. Paul (12-0) on Tuesday evening.

          Monroeville and Mapleton kept their share too.  The Eagles bounced back to down New London (5-2) and Mapleton whipped South Central (14-0) also on Tuesday.

          Coach Scott Durbin says they were given new life this week.  He says they want to get through that open door.  “Our plan is trying to kick it in.  We got a second chance here and we have got to take advantage of it.  We can't overlook anybody we have got to make sure we’re ready to play,” he said.

          Durbin says they have to understand they still have a lot softball to play.  “We've got we got St. Paul again (Wednesday) night and we have got to be ready to go.  Then we have got a sectional game on Friday night.  Then we have got to be ready to go Saturday morning against a really good Mapleton team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “All of our goals are in front of us that we worked hard all winter and in the weight room.  We got a second chance at them.  So, we're happy about that, but we have got to make sure we make the most of it.”

          Crestview edged Mapleton (3-2) back on April 24.

          Durbin says May is definitely championship month for the Lady Cougars.  “We're definitely playing meaningful games.  This week got really, really big with New London knocking off Monroeville (Monday) night.  We're in a three-way tie with conference games left and the tournament mixed in there.  They're meaningful that's for sure,” he said,

 

Published 5/08/24

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Edison in Position

 

          Edison downed Willard (10-6) on Tuesday evening in play in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and that moved them into a share of the division lead with Huron.

          The Tigers lost (4-3) to Margaretta on Tuesday.

          Coach Sean Hoover says they are used to playing in big games.  “We've been fortunate enough to put ourselves in spots where those games at the end of the year are important.  We have won our fair share of them. We have got a couple more tough league games to finish out the week here and try to keep our race here with Huron going,” he said.

          The Chargers have advanced to the state final the last two years.

          Hoover says a key to the playing in these kids of games is to concentrate on your own game.  “We talk to our guys all the time about that we have to have our own approach to the plate and not to worry about what they're doing their dugout and on the field that kind of stuff.  We have our own things we have to do to be successful.  When we're out there we need to do that whether we're playing somebody who's undefeated or somebody who hasn't won that many games.  We just need to go and play our game and take care of us,” said Hoover.

          Edison (13-3,6-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Port Clinton, winless in division play, on Wednesday and improved Willard again on Saturday.  Huron plays Port Clinton on Thursday.

          The Chargers lost a lot to graduation, but Hoover says this year’s team has really matured this spring.  “We've graduated a lot the last couple years with all this success we've had.  We had a new group we had coming in.  We said from the beginning we like who we have we just haven't seen them playing varsity games and we didn't know how quickly they would come along,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Honestly, they've done a great job of picking things up very quickly and coming in and battling from really the first day.  It's been very gratifying to watch these kids work hard and kind of take their place up here on the varsity and then kind of run with it and have some success.”

 

Published 5/08/24

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Crestview Knocking on the Door

 

          Crestview climbed to within a game of Norwalk St. Paul and South Central a top the standings in the Firelands Conference after blanking St. Paul (8-0) on Monday evening.

          South Central (11-8,9-3) lost (8-0) to Mapleton Monday.

          The Cougars now trail the two leaders by just a game.  They play St. Paul again Tuesday, weather permitting.  At the time this story was published there was about an 80% chance of rain on Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Mapleton (10-6,9-4) is also a game back.

          Coach Don Keener understands the significance of the win on Monday.  “It was huge.  I mean the kids came to play.  They were all ready and we got great pitching,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I mean everybody contributed throughout the lineup (Monday) night and hit the ball well.  I mean St. Paul's obviously a great team and we just had a really good night.”

          Putting eight runs up against a solid St. Paul staff was impressive.  The Cougars (11-9,9-4) scored seven times in the first three innings.

          Keener says they have been hitting it well.  “The kids the last few weeks I think we've been hitting the ball a little bit better throughout the lineup, which is what you have to have.  I think (Monday) night we had some good contributions throughout and I mean that helped lead to some extra runs here and there and the kids played well,” said Keener.

          Starter Drew Kunkle allowed eight runs for St. Paul (12-6,10-3) on Monday.

          Meanwhile, Jaret Ringler was tremendous for the Cougars with 12 strikeouts and allowing just two hits.

          Keener says he always gives them a chance.  “Jaret Ringler was outstanding.  He only gave up two hits in a complete game.  I know he had double digit strikeouts.  I don't know of the top of my head, but he was on.  I mean and anytime he's on we're always going to have chance to win I think,” he said.

          Keener says you always want the last week of the regular season to mean something.  “It's fun, that's what you want to have at the end of the season.  You want to have meaningful games with regular season games because I think it gets you even more prepared for the tournament then so hopefully that that'll carry over,” he said.

 

Published 5/07/24

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Calvert Makes it Happen; Back in First

 

          Tiffin Calvert finds itself back alone in first place in the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference after a dramatic (6-5) walk off win over Woodmore on Monday evening.

          Combined with a Lakota (6-5) upset of New Riegel and a Hopewell-Loudon (8-1) win over Old Fort, the Senecas (18-2,14-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, has a one game lead on both New Riegel and Hopewell.  They are at New Riegel on Wednesday.

          Coach Matt Coleman says they got things started right in the bottom of the seventh.  “It was a fun night for sure.  There in the seventh inning we had the top of our lineup up coming through for the fourth time against a good pitcher that had been in the whole game.  Blake (Coleman) was able to find his way on board and then Harry Schultz, on senior day, found a way to get a hit to right field.  The next two guys hit hard balls, but just didn't get on, our three, four hitters,” he said.

          Then with two out, Coleman says they got a huge hit from Jacob Kidwell.  “Then our five hole hitter Jake Kidwell, who ended up getting the win in relief, plugged the gap to right center fence and it was kind of a crazy end of the game. Harry comes around scores from first base and Jacob advances to third on the play.  They tried to throw him out at third base and it goes into left field.  Their leftfielder was there to back it up, but he overthrew at home,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “It's kind of a game tying double but, turned into a little league home run to win the game.  We're thankful we showed a little resiliency.”

          Coleman says they have a lot of work left to do.  Beginning with New Riegel, who beat them (2-1) back on April 25.  “We still have three league games.  We have New Riegel, St. Mary's and Lakota.  New Riegel is the next task at hand.  They're a very good team and very good pitcher in Shane Jones.  They put the ball in play against us the last time.  They were able to scratch across a couple runs and Shane Jones is a formidable pitcher on the mound and they have a few others.  So, it's going to be a fun night on Wednesday out in New Riegel, we'll see what happens,” said Coleman.

 

Published 5/07/24

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Shelby Wins; Stays Alive

 

          Shelby still has a chance to share in the title in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after shutting out Pleasant (5-0) on Monday evening in league play.

          They need Ontario to beat first place Highland twice this week.  Plus, they need to win their two games against Galion.

          Coach Jon Amicone says he expects his kids to continue to go all out to win a piece of that title.  “It was good to see our kids play well after the weekend.  Technically we're still in league race and I know we need some help, but we're doing our part.  We told our kids continue to do your part.  We've made our bed and we’ve got lie in it as far as not winning games earlier on the year to put us in this situation,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Until that last nail is in the coffin we expect our kids to play hard, especially these league games and they proved that (Monday).  So, hopefully we continue to play well and maybe get some help down the road and see what happens.”

          Amicone says they have to take care of their business first.  “That's what we told the guys you have to focus on yourself and win games and kind of see what happens.  Baseball is a funny game.  It can put you in the highest highs and the next day be the lowest of lows, but anything can happen.  So, it's really up to us to continue to play good baseball all week and try to put ourselves in that situation.  That's kind of where we're at,” he said.

          Ace Nic Eyster was on his game again for the Whippets (12-7,8-4) on Monday.

          Amicone says he was efficient and got his business done quickly.  “Nic Eyster has been our one all year.  He did another great job.  We time our innings.  We have a goal of what we want each defensive inning to last and I think all seven of our innings went under five minutes.  So, we were happy about that.  We want to work quick with our pitchers.  We played good defense.  Nic was a catalyst for that (Monday) night.  He threw two different pitches for strikes anytime in the count and did a good job of keeping Pleasant off balance.  They're a good hitting team, so our defense responded well,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/07/24

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Mohawk Holds off Seneca East

 

          Mohawk hung on to beat Seneca East (7-6) in a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference on Monday evening.

          They share second place in the “N10” with Wynford, two games behind Upper Sandusky, who clinched at least a share of the conference title with a (19-0) win over Buckeye Central on Monday.

          The Warriors (13-6,9-4) took a (7-4) lead into the bottom of the seventh.

          Coach Zach Hawkins says it wasn’t easy, but they found a way.  “It seems like it's never easy.  Getting those last three outs are always the hardest.  We ended up having to use two different pictures there in the seventh inning,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Elias (Magallanes) gave us a really good start.  He went five solid innings.  Then Hunter (Haynes) came in and got through the sixth and the beginning of the seventh.  Then Brayden Chester came in and closed it out.  Left the tying run on second base and struck out one of their best players.  So, it was pretty exciting and big win for us.”

          Mohawk scored two in the fourth and three in the fifth and Hawkins says those runs were critical for them.  “It was a kind of a back and forth game.  We went up (2-0), they went up (4-2) and then we had a bigger inning there in the in the middle and added on a couple and took a three run lead.  We've had a couple games like that.  So, I just kept stressing the kids let's keep adding.  They had good at bats, some really good situational hitting, got some sacrifices down and kids did a good job,” he said.

          The Warriors were the top seed in their division IV district.  Hawkins believes they are playing well.  “We started off the season very well.  We were undefeated there for a while and then we got into some of the tougher teams in our league.  That's part of baseball.  We've lost some baseball games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I feel like we're kind of back up on the upswing and that was our goal here in the last week or so to get back to playing how we know how.  We can play and we're excited here for the next couple weeks that's for sure,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 5/07/24

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Baseball Seed Meetings Held

 

          Baseball teams found out Sunday who they will play when the postseason tournament starts in a week.

          In Division I, in the Northwest District, Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, plays at home against Toledo St. John’s on Wednesday, May 15.  Norwalk plays at Toledo Bowsher, on Monday, May 13.

          “They are in a tough league.  They are better than their record.  I believe they have six one run losses,” said Ashland coach Rick Gough.

          Mt. Vernon, the “OCC” co-leader, seeded fifth, will play at home on May 15 against either Chillicothe or Logan.  Marion Harding also has a home with Central Crossing on May 13.

          “I think we have a great draw this year.  Being the fifth seed is exciting for our team because their hard work is paying off.  Tournament baseball is such an exciting time for these guys, but as we have talked about it all year.  Be where your feet are and take it one day at a time.  It’s a great time to get hot,” said Mt, Vernon baseball coach Nate Hunt.

          Up in the NE District Wooster, who won a district championship last season, gets a bye and will play host to either North Olmstead or Barberton on Tuesday, May 14.

          “We’re excited for the opportunity to continue playing against high quality teams and earn the right to keep extending our season.  I talked briefly with our boys after the draw and they are looking forward to some of the potential matchups and playing more really good teams and seeing what we’re capable of.  We’ve prepared all season for the tournament with a tough schedule and now it’s time to go see what we can do,” said Wooster coach Steve Young.

          In Division II, there is a district which has its final at Fremont Ross High School.  Tiffin Columbian is the top seed, Ontario is number two, Perkins is three and Shelby gets the fourth seed.

          “We are excited for the opportunity that we have in front of us.  This district will be tough with a lot of good teams, but we are happy with the way we are playing,” said Columbian coach Nick Weber.

          “I’m happy with where we were seeded, but it doesn’t matter if you are seeded one or two or nine of 10, you have to come ready to play or you will be watching the rest of the tournament,” said Ontario coach Mike Ellis.  The Warriors advanced to the state final last spring.

          In an upper bracket semifinal, Bellevue hosts Mansfield Senior on May 15 and the winner plays Columbian on Friday, May 17.  In the other sectional final on the 17th, Huron is at Shelby,

          “Seems like Groundhog Day.  Every year we have to go to Bellevue for a first round tournament game.  Their record does not reflect the type of team they are.  Andy’s (Dennings) teams end up playing their best ball at the end of the season and we always seem to draw them in the tournament.  We hope we can catch them on an off day and try to sneak out with a win,” said Mansfield Senior coach J.R. Davis.

          “There were really no surprises with the top five teams picking where they went on the bracket.  We know we have a tough test against Huron, who is battle tested from playing in the “SBC”.  In this district, you need to play your best game because every team is talented and dangerous,” said Shelby coach Jon Amicone

          Lower bracket games, with semifinals on May 15, Clyde hosts Mansfield Madison and Sandusky is at Vermilion.  Ontario hosts the Clyde/Madison winner and Perkins will be home for either Sandusky or Vermilion on the 17th.

          “When you’re the 10th seed out of 11 teams you don’t have the luxury of a lot of options in the bracket.  We do have the confidence of beating three of the top four seeds going into the tournament, and when you get in a win or go home situation anything can happen.  We are going to have to take things one game at a time, and up first is a Clyde team we played earlier in the season,” said Madison coach Nick Melton.

          Another Division II with the final is in Bluffton, Clear Fork is the number one seed, followed by Wapakoneta, Celina and Galion.

          “There are no easy games in our district.  Over the last two seasons we have a combined record of 3-4 against teams in our district.  We know whichever team we play in the sectional finals will bring their best as I’m hoping we’ll do.  I’m proud of the season our kids have had so far and we are excited for this last week of the regular season to get going,” said Clear Fork coach Gabe Kennedy.

          There is one upper bracket semi and that has Elida at Lima Bath on May 15 and winner travels to Clear Foek on the 17th.  In the other final on May 17, Galion hosts Upper Sandusky.

          “Our district has a ton of good teams and a lot of the teams played close games with each other.  We’re lucky we played well enough to host a game and avoid a long bus trip.  Upper is a great team.  Should be a good environment in Heise Park,” said Galion coach Kenny Fagan,

          In the lower bracket, Lexington hosts Kenton on May 15 with the winner playing at Wapakoneta on the 17th.  St, Mary’s Memorial is at Lima Bath on the 15th and the winner advances to play at Celina on May 17.

          “This a tough district,” said Lexington coach Jeff Strickler, “Any team in it can win on a given day.  So, we need to come ready to play well starting with the first round game with Kenton.”

          In the Central District, River Valley is at Johnstown-Monroe on Saturday, May 11.

          Over in the East District on May 14 West Holmes is at Cambridge and New Philadelphia is at home for either East Liverpool or Lisbon Beaver.

          In division III, in the NW district, the final is at Shelby High School.  Edison is the top seed, Oak Harbor is number two, Wynford three and Willard number four.

          “It will be a tough district as usual.  Numerous teams have the capability of winning it this year,” said Edison coach Sean Hoover.

          There are two semifinals in each bracket here.  Semis are May 15 and finals May 17 in each case.

          In the upper bracket, Western Reserve plays at home against Bucyrus with winner getting Edison and Port Clinton is Lakota and winner gets Oak Harbor.

          Then in the lower Colonel Crawford visits Crestview and the winner advances to play at Wynford and Woodmore plays at Margaretta with the winner traveling to Willard.

          “We are fortunate to get a bye and excited to play for another sectional championship on our field.  Hopefully, we can keep getting better and compete in our district,” said Wynford coach Tom Smith.

          In the Central district, in first round games on May 13, East Knox is at home with Columbus International, Fredericktown is at Cardington. Mt. Gilead is at Marion Pleasant and Centerburg hosts Liberty Union.  Highland, the second seed, hosts either Madison Plains or Johnstown Northridge on May 15 in a sectional final.

          “We’re excited to earn the number two seed and will have home field advantage in our bracket.  Now the real work begins as everyone starts 0-0 and it’s a true survive and advance mentality,” said Highland coach Donnie Kline.

          “We have played a lot of good teams this season and hopefully that will pay off in the tournament for us.  Anything can happen,” said Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway.

          Up in the NE District, tournament openers are May 13 and feature Smithville hosting Rittman, Tuslaw at Fairless, Chippewa has Wellington and Northwestern is at home for Beachwood.  In the sectional finals on May 15, Waynedale has Rootstown or Clearview, Triway has Mogadore or Crestwood, Norwayne hosts Brooklyn or Oberlin and Manchester has either Northwestern or Beachwood.

          Now in division IV, there are a number of districts to review.

          First in the NW District, there is a group of teams with a district final in Galion where the top seed is Mohawk, followed by South Central, Seneca East and Lucas.

          “It was great to get the top seed in our district.  We are focusing on taking one game at a time.  I am excited to see what the guys can do,” said Mohawk coach Zach Hawkins.

          “It’s going to be a tough district, a lot of good teams in our district.  We’ll need to stay focused and positive to give ourselves a chance to get through this district,” said South Central coach Nick Kirk.

          In the upper bracket, Mansfield Christian is at New London on May 14 with winner traveling to Mohawk on Thursday, May 16.  Also the 16th, Seneca East hosts Ridgemont.

          “We basically have the draw that we wanted to set up our pitching rotation,” said Seneca East baseball coach Rick Bowerman.

          In the lower bracket, Buckeye Central is home for Crestline on the 14th and the winner gets South Central on May 16 and Lucas hosts Plymouth on the 16th.

          “We always feel fortunate to host a tournament game and we will enjoy the opportunity.  Our kids are excited for the postseason and we know Crestline is going to give us their best effort.  We are looking forward to the challenge,” said Buckeye Central coach Chad Jensen.

          There is another district with the final at Oak Harbor High School.  Here the top seed is Tiffin Calvert with Hopewell-Loudon second, New Riegel third and Norwalk St. Paul fourth,

          Semifinals are May 14 and the finals are the 16th.

          In the upper backet, Monroeville is at Sandusky St, Mary’s with winner playing Tiffin Calvert and Old Fort travels to Norwalk St, Paul for a final.

          “I think our district will once again be very competitive.  A lot of top notch pitching.  Old Fort is a team that we are very familiar with as we have played them in the districts semis the last two years.  They have a veteran team.  We will have to be at our best if we want to advance,” said Norwalk St. Paul coach Aaron Fries.

          In the lower bracket, Fremont St. Joe is at Gibsonburg with the winner getting Hopewell and Danbury-Lakeside playing at Cardinal Stritch with the winner advancing to meet New Riegel.

          In the Central District, Northmor is the top seed and will host either Millersport or Madison Christian on May 16.  Also, Danville is at home for Shekinah Christian on May 14,

          “Really went pretty much like we thought it would.  Putting ourselves in all the team’s shoes.  I completely understand why they chose their spots.  We just have to play good, clean baseball and see what happens,” said Northmor coach Buck Workman.

          There are also teams in the small school division in the NE District.

          Hillsdale host either East Canton or Lordstown, Mapleton is at home for Heartland Christian or Harbor Harding, Dalton has Southern or Berlin Center Western Reserve and Loudonville is at home for Leetonia or Windam.  All on May 16.

          “We are looking forward to our opportunity against East Canton or Lordstown.  We will keep working to get better and hope for a good tournament run,” said Hillsdale coach Jason Snow.

 

Published 5/05/24

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Madison Puts up Another Win

 

          Madison beat Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division champion Norwalk (8-3) in a non-conference softball game on Thursday evening.

          They have won 10 in a row.

          Coach Tim Niswander says their kids believe in what they are doing.  “The last couple weeks we played some really good teams, both in our league and outside of it, and our kids just keep rising to the occasion.  They finally figured out about two weeks ago what it is we were trying to get them to understand and they just keep executing.  I mean they're not doing flashy things and they're not going above and beyond they just keep grinding and getting it done.  We just keep piling up the wins and we'll take it.  Hopefully they keep piling them up for the next couple of weeks anyway,” he said.

          Niswander says their whole game is improved, but mostly on defense and the way they run the bases.  “The number one thing I think is our base running.  We have become more aggressive and less reckless.  We're paying attention to the things that are happening around us and trying to get extra bases, that's number one, and those translate into runs.  We're playing much better defense, much better defense.  We were averaging four errors a game.  We're down to one and a lot of these nights we don't have any.  Then as the weather's gotten warmer we started to drive the ball to the fence as well.  So, we're doing everything better, but the things that really stand out I think are the defense and the base running,” said Niswander.

          Madison (15-5), #4 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, is a division I school this year.

          Niswander says they want to take advantage of their opportunities.  “Well, that was a mistake by the way, we are not supposed to be Division I, but the OHSAA refused to change that.  We play Oregon Clay at home, they're always solid.  We've got some scouting in on them.  Then we go to either Findlay or Wapakoneta and then Anthony Wayne.  Everything we've heard is when we are at our best we can compete with anybody up that way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We hope that that holds and then we just continue to play as well as we have been and maybe we can make a run here in Division I and do some damage.  So, we're just going to keep plugging away and whoever they put out there in front of us we're going to do the best that we can and hopefully we can keep piling up wins.”

 

Published 5/03/24

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Crestview Continues to Play Well

 

          Crestview blanked Lucas (11-0) in non-conference softball on Thursday evening and they continue to play pretty solid.

          They have won seven their last eight games and coach Scott Durbin says the key is their focus.  “We've talked a lot about we've really got to focus on us.  We can't really pay attention to who we're playing.  We've got to go out and stay focused on what we need to do and focus on the things that we want to accomplish,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I’ll tell you, we've been playing really, really well here the last several weeks.”

          Last season, the Lady Cougars didn’t end the season the way they wanted, but Durbin says they have showed more maturity this spring.  “I like to think a lot of that's the maturity.  Sophie's (Durbin) our senior and she has been a four year starter and we've got P.J. (Endicott) and Chesnie (Patton) and Kalee (Hamman), some kids that are that are juniors, that are three-year starters.  So, hopefully it's that experience is paying off for us,” said Durbin.

          Right now, the Lady Cougars (15-5,9-2) trail Monroeville and Mapleton by a game in the Firelands Conference standings.  They have lost two to Monroeville, but they have beaten Mapleton and have game May 11 against the Lady Mounties.

          Crestview also plays Norwalk St. Paul next week.

          Durbin says they need some things to fall their way, but most important, they have to win.  “We put ourselves in a position where we're doing a little scoreboard watching, but we need to take care of our business and we'll see what happens.  When you're sitting the game out anything can happen.  There's a big game with Monroeville and Mapleton (Friday) that's going to determine a lot,” he said.

 

Published 5/03/24

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Reed No Hits Port Clinton

 

          Willard’s Elijah Reed fired a no-hitter at Port Clinton on Thursday night in the Flashes (10-0) win in play in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          It keeps Willard a game behind Huron and Edison in the race entering the final week of the regular season.

          Coach Billy Robinson says Reed was tremendous.  “Our junior Eliza Reed pitched a no hitter (Thursday) night for us throwing a lot of strikes.  I think he had 12 strikeouts, so did a really good job being around the plate.  Very proud of him for (Thursday’s) game,” said Robinson.

          Robinson says he wants the pitchers to concentrate on throwing strikes.  “I have a cousin Don Gullett, you might recognize his name, he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds.  He actually just passed away, but I asked him, I said Don what makes a good pitcher? He says command, throwing strikes, that's the most important thing,” he told Swankonsport.com on Thursday night, “That’s the piece of advice he gave me and that's what you know we're trying to focus with our pitchers.  Throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and good things happen.”

          Willard (10-6,4-3) trails Huron and Edison by game in the Bay Division.  They play Edison next Tuesday and Saturday and they travel to Margaretta next Thursday.

          The Flashes are greatly improved from the last several years and Robinson says they knew they had the talent.  “We always knew that this day would come.  We have six seniors that have played a lot of baseball together at high levels and have played a lot of travel ball.  So, we always knew the experience would come through and it's showing this year,” he said.

 

Published 5/03/24

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Seneca East Maturing

 

          Seneca East hammered Plymouth (11-1) in five innings in a non-conference baseball game on Thursday evening.

          Caden Fritz had three hits.  Nathan Parks, Jake Bowerman and freshman Jackson Gayheart had two hits.  Blake Foos had two RBI.

          The Tigers have won four of their last six and coach Rick Bowerman likes the way they are playing.  “We're starting to put things together.  We usually play four sophomores and a freshman, so we're kind of young.  I told him (Wednesday) night, we got kind of a down game against Colonel Crawford, but I let them know you're not freshman and sophomores anymore,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We're 18 games into the season and it's time to step up and play like varsity players.  (Thursday) they responded, we played really well.”

          Right now, the Tigers (9-10,8-3) are tied with Mohawk a game behind first place Upper Sandusky in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.  They play Mohawk on Friday and Monday and Upper next Friday.

          Bowerman says they have a lot to play for.  “I told the guys (Thursday) night, we're still on the league hunt.  Two big games coming up with Mohawk and then with one with Upper.  So, trying to get that momentum going on our side and keep playing well,” said Bowerman.

          Plus, tournament play starts the week after next and Bowerman says they want to take some momentum into the postseason.  “Tournament is coming up very quickly.  Hopefully, the momentum is on our side and we can make a deep run,” he said.

 

Published 5/03/24

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Northmor Beats Centerburg; Stays in First

 

          Northmor continues to share first place in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference after a (7-4) win at Centerburg on Wednesday evening.

          They are tied with East Knox.  Centerburg is a game back after the loss to the Golden Knights.

          Northmor scored twice in the first inning.  Cole Cuffman drove in a run with a triple and scored on a error.  They put three more on the board in the second RBI hits by Jack Bowdre, Grant Bentley, and Drew Hammond.

          Coach Buck Workman says it was good to get rolling early.  “We've been struggling a little bit with the bats.  I mean we've been scoring some runs, but we haven't really been hitting the ball well,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We've been taking advantage of some walks and errors and things like that, but (Wednesday) night we came out and hit the ball pretty well in the first few innings and got nice little lead.”

          The Golden Knights (17-3,8-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, had eight hits on the night.

          Workman says they were getting into the box with confidence.  “It kind of gets contagious.  I mean the kids get a little confidence.  They are like, hey, that cat got a hit, I get up there keep it rolling and kind of had a little bit of that (Wednesday) night and it was nice to see,” said Workman.

          Northmor has played very well this season.  Their only losses in the league come in eight innings to East Knox and Fredericktown.

          However, Workman says they still have work to do.  “This is what you play for.  I mean big games all the way around.  We have got Centerburg Friday and East Knox Tuesday, let's see what happens,” he said.

          Workman believes his kids are going to ready to play in these big games over the next week.  “It’s an exciting time.  I mean they're the type of kids who get up for these games.  This senior class has probably had the most successful football four years stint, the most successful basketball four years stint, baseball four years stint.  They've been through the ringer, so I don't think it's going to overwhelm them or anything like that,” said Workman.

 

Published 5/02/24

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Ontario Bounces Back

 

          Ontario had to win Wednesday night at Shelby, and they did, beating the Whippets (7-3), and staying in the race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They trail Highland by two games and play the Fighting Scots next week.  Highland wrapped up a share of the conference title by belting Clear Fork (10-1) on Wednesday.

          Shelby, also two games back, beat Ontario (5-2) on Tuesday, but Warriors coach Mike Ellis says they came out Wednesday with a different attitude.  “We talked a lot (Tuesday) night after the game.  Some things that we just didn't do right.  We just didn't come out with the enthusiasm and stuff.  We kind of played, I don't know, I call it dead.  So, (Wednesday) night we were a little more lively and it showed.  That’s important, especially for high school kids,” said Ellis.

          Ellis says offensively they were able to get off to a good start.  “Again, (Tuesday) night when we played them their pitcher kept us off balance the whole night you know.  We tried to put something together, we scored two and we had bases loaded and we just came up short.  So, (Wednesday) we jumped on them.  We scored two in the third.  James Mahon hit a two run home run and then we tacked on another two on the fourth and then we tacked on three in the seventh,” he said.

          The top of the “MOAC” has been very good this year, very competitive.  Ontario has beaten Galion twice, spilt with Shelby, and lost twice to Clear Fork.

          Ellis says it is a very good baseball league.  “You look at the top teams and they've just been you know beating up on each other.  I saw the scores of Highland and Clear Fork.  We have got Highland next week.  Then with Shelby.  It's just been back and forth.  Everybody's beating each other,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Our league is very tough.  I said that in the beginning and it's probably tougher than what I really thought.  So, it's a great league to play baseball.”

 

Published 5/02/24

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Galion Whips River Valley

 

          Galion scored eight times in the first three innings and went on to punish River Valley (11-1) in five in action in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Wednesday evening.

          The Tigers (12-5,6-4) have now won their last seven.  They have four games left in conference, two with Marion Harding, and two with Shelby.  They trail the Fighting Scots by two in the loss column.

          Coach Kenny Fagan says they have found their grove in the batter’s box.  “We were kind of slumped there for a little bit, for about two weeks and you know and then the last six, seven games they've kind of come alive.  So, they're adjusting I think and we're having better approaches, we are hitting with two strikes a little bit better and then moving guys around,” he said.

          Braxton Prosser was 4-4 with an inside the park home run and three RBI.   He also picked up the win on the mound.

          Fagan says Prosser was efficient against the Vikings.  “We always pride ourselves on our defense.  We think we do a really good job defensively.  When you can go three nights in a row getting pretty much three complete games out of guys.  I think Grady Crim threw like 60 pitches (Tuesday) night and Braxton Prosser only throws 60 (Thursday),” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “You're going to like nights like those.  They're filling it up, let them put the ball in play, and letting the defense go to work.  So, that's the recipe for success for us.”

          Fagan says they are getting hot at the right time.  “We will find out who we play this weekend.  That was one of our goals is getting hot when it matters, getting hot going into May.  We have won seven in a row, so I think they're doing a good job.  They kind of know what our goals are that we set for ourselves moving forward.  So, things are going pretty well here,” said Fagan.

 

Published 5/02/24

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Ashland Outscores Madison

 

          Ashland outscored Madison (10-7) on Wednesday in a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          They beat Madison (14-3) on Tuesday.

          Coach Rick Gough says the bats have been heating up.  “Actually, all week we have our batting average has improved.  We've hit the ball pretty well this week.  We went from about think about .200 as a team to almost .280 after (Wednesday’s) game,” said Gough.

          Gough says they have had a better approach.  “I think the kids are starting to believe a little bit and then starting to make adjustments at the plate instead of just trying to do the same thing, but right now we're swinging the bats pretty well,” he said.

          Gough says he hopes that continues this week with the tournament draw coming up this Sunday.  “I mean in all honesty it's been tough.  I think we've played seven or eight games in about nine days.  Repetitions are good and maybe that's helping out a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We've actually bumped up Fridays game with Ontario to (Thursday) to try and beat the weather and trying to get one more game in prior to the tournament seeding.”

 

Published 5/02/24

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Highland Takes First Place to Itself

 

          Highland is now all alone in first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after a huge (7-2) win at Clear Fork on Tuesday evening.

          They now lead the Colts and Shelby, a (5-2) winner over Ontario Tuesday, by a game in the conference standings.

          They did it with a five spot in the fifth inning, highlighted by a three run triple of Zach Church, who was also the game’s winning pitcher.

          Highland had made the last out of the inning at home plate in both the first and fourth innings.

          However, coach Donnie Kline says they were ready to pounce.  “I think one of the things we want to attribute to the boys was just toughness.  This is a really good Clear Fork team, really well coached.  I thought we botched some opportunities early to take advantage of our base runners, but the boys kind of kept a level keel if you will, kept battling and they got an opportunity late to score some runs. You have to keep adding with the team like that.  Clear Fork is not going to go away.  That’s not enough runs.  They'll be ready to score some runs (Wednesday),” said Kline.

          Clear Fork coach Gabe Kennedy says they just made too many mistakes.  “We have got to bring our “A” game every night in the conference.  Highland is a really good team.  We knew that coming into it.  They’re always well coached and they're they got some dudes on their team and every year.  We have to play mistake free to have a chance.  Against a really good baseball team when you give people extra strikes, extra outs, they continue to make you pay and they did that,” said Kennedy.

          Clear Fork (14-3,8-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, took (1-0) lead bottom of the third inning when Garrett Hotz reached on an error and advanced to third on back to back sacrifice bunts.  Nate Lind was hit by a pitch.  Hotz would score when Church tried to pick off Lind and threw the ball away.

          Then came to pivotal top of the fifth.  Luke Schlosser appeared in command as he had struck out four and held Fighting Scots scoreless.  The inning began with Schlosser hitting Hendrick Kavara with a pitch.  With one out, Jayden Collins walked and Kort Sears singled, setting up Church, who ripped a ball that got past the Clear Fork defense and cleared the bases.  Hyden Kline then executed a suicide squeeze to score Church.  Jace Brooks would walk, steal second, and score on a wild pitch.  That made it (5-1) Highland after four and half.

          Clear Fork would tally one in their half of the fifth.  Lind was hit by another pitch, Schlosser singed, Lind stole third and scored when Gavin Wiggand’s throw was high.

          However, Kennedy says the all important momentum was in Highland’s favor.  “I mean Luke’s is a stud.  He has been awesome for us all year.  Their kids grind it out.  Their kids have a plan.  It's one of those things where when they go up it helps them a lot.  They got confidence going,” he told Swankonsports.com, “In the previous inning, we left guys on base.  We struck out three times in a row you know when you guys on second and third.  Then you could feel the momentum, you can just feel the momentum shift and at that point it's tough.  Baseball is a is a game of momentum and they had it from there on.”

          In the bottom of the fourth, Clear Fork put runners on second and third with nobody out when Jay Jackson walked and stole a base and Mason Sampson reached on an error.  However, three straight Colts would strike out.

          Kline also thought that was key.  “I think a lot people just focus on just offense in high school, runs, but a lot of times not allowing someone to score is just as effective.  Not to mention momentum.  These are high school kids and so when you could keep momentum you're dugout longer it usually works out your favor,” he said.

          Highland would add two runs the seventh when runners scored on wild pitches.

          Church surrendered only three hits on the day and Kline says they were able to keep the Colts running game in check.  “I think that's chapter five in the coaching dummies try to keep them off the bases with good pitching.  We have a lot of respect for what Clear Fork does on the bases, that's a fun way to play baseball.  We try to do the same thing,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We practice all week on the turf.  We set up some scenarios where we thought they might try to take advantage of us.  At the end of the day, Zach Church did great job on the mound.  Where you find good pitching, you find good catching with Gavin Wiggins and a great pitching coach.  They did fantastic job calling plays.”

          Highland (16-2,9-2), #1 in our poll in the small school division, took the first game in the series, but Kline feels Wednesday will be tougher.  “We told the boys this was easy one.  (Wednesday) will be the hard one.  Clear Fork is again a really good ball club, well coached, they'll bring it (Wednesday), we know that.  It's going to be a dog fight, the challenge will be come on play good baseball and hopefully have the baseball gods in our favor,” said Kline.

          A game back, Kennedy knows Wednesday is a must, but he says their master plan is still in place.  “Highland is a very good baseball team.  At the start of the week, I didn't tell my kids this, but as a coaching staff we need to split with them and we need to sweep next week (against River Valley), that's the goal.  If we split with them, sweep next week, things are looking pretty good.  The split is still a possibility.  It's one of those things where to have amnesia a little bit.  We have got to forget about this and be ready to go (Wednesday),” said Kennedy.

 

Published 5/01/24

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Mohawk Outlasts Wynford

 

          Mohawk keeps a share of the lead in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference as the Warriors edged Wynford (3-2) in a conference game on Tuesday evening.

          They share first place in the “N10” with Upper Sandusky and Seneca East.  All three gave two losses.  The Warriors (11-4,7-2) have five league games to play over the next 10 days.  They host Wynford (11-7,7-4) on Wednesday, have a showdown with Seneca East (8-9,8-2) on Friday and next Monday.  They play makeups with Bucyrus on Saturday and Buckeye Central next Wednesday.

          Coach Zach Hawkins says Tuesday they got a great effort on the hill from senior Brayden Chester.  “It was a big game for us.  We started off the year 10-0 and dropped the last four.  So, went to one of my seniors (Tuesday) night in Brayden Chester.  Told him we needed a big start and had all the confidence in the world in him.  He went out there and did a great job.  Kept them scoreless through the first six innings and then he hit a batter, walked a batter in the seventh, they got a bloop hit and the next thing we know it's 3-2.  Luckily, we got that final out with two guys on base.  So, it was a big win for us and Brayden pitched an awesome game,” said Hawkins.

          Hawkins says they got a big clutch hit from Ben Bogner in the sixth.  “I kept telling them it was 1-0 and we needed more.  Let's get some insurance runs and in the sixth inning they finally did it.  Ben Bogner stepped up.  He had bases loaded, hit a line drive down the right field line and scored two runs that was a huge double with two out.  It came back to be huge for us because that was the difference in the game,” he said.

          Last week, the Warriors were smoked in back to back games by Upper and Hawkins was impressed by how they responded Tuesday.  “That's what I told you guys.  We're a division IV school and three of our four losses has have come to two division II schools.  We're playing pretty good competition.  Upper Sandusky is a very good team, but you know when you get beat 12-2 and 12-0, or whatever it was, it takes a little bit out of you, especially when you're undefeated,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The kids to respond was huge (Tuesday).  It keeps us in the league race and that's what I've been harping on him.  The good thing about baseball is it's not like football where you have to sulk on a loss for an entire week before you get to play again.  We got to play day after day and finally (Tuesday) a couple things went our way.  I just kept telling the guys, keep chugging along and our luck is going to change and finally it did.”

 

Published 5/01/24

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Shelby Stays in it

 

          Shelby stays right there in the tight race in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with a (5-2) win at Ontario on Tuesday evening.

          They are tied with Clear Fork for second place in the conference a game behind Highland.  Ontario is now three games back.  Highland beat Clear Fork (7-2) on Tuesday to take first place.

          Coach Jon Amicone says anytime you win at Ontario it’s a big one.  “It was a good one for the guys.  Anytime you go to Ontario, you know you're in for a dogfight.  They're a premier program in the area and they have been for a long time.  So, I was pleased with our guys effort.  We came in there with a different mindset and a lot better focus and then what we've been seeing.  We kind of got back to playing Shelby baseball,” he said.

          Last week, the Whippets lost four in row before beating Huron (14-4) on Saturday in a non-conference game, including twice to Clear Fork.

          Amicone says they showed mental toughness on Tuesday.  “They did a really nice job of bouncing back.  Unfortunately, that's baseball, that's going to happen.  You're going to lose a few games in a row, you're going to be in slumps and that’s just part of the game.  You want to see the mental toughness come out and our guys did that that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We had a really good practice (Monday), a real crisp practice and very focused practice.  A lot of guys that want to get back on the right track.  So, it was nice that we started the week off with that kind of win.”

          Shelby (10-5,8-3) plays at home against Ontario on Wednesday.  They play Galion in their league series next week.

          Amicone says they got a very solid effort from starter Nic Eyster on Tuesday evening.  “Nic Eyster, he's been our number one guy throughout the whole season.  Nic’s a competitor.  He is that guy on the mound that we want and we trust and he did a really nice job.  He had three pitches that he's throwing anytime in the count.  When you're able to mix those types of pitches anytime the count you're initiating soft contact as we talked about.  He did a nice job being in command on the mound,” said Amicone.

 

Published 5/01/24

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Mt. Vernon Hammers West Holmes

 

          Mt. Vernon remains in a share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference after blasting West Holmes (10-0) in five innings on Tuesday evening.

          They share first with New Philadelphia, who they play next week.  The Quakers beat Lexington (6-5) on Tuesday to maintain their share.  Wooster is a game back.  The Generals blanked Mansfield Senior (8-0) on Tuesday.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they came out ready to play.  “West Holmes is always the team that does the little things right.  They will field it right, they will bunt when they need to.  So, I think it's absolutely one of those things where you have got to come in and just kind of continue to do what we've been doing.  I think the best part about our group is that they came in on Monday and they just have really positive attitudes and took practice well and just did everything that I'm asking them to do.  Just like we talked about week in and week out is just kind of focus on that day and even smaller focus on the inning, focus on the at bat, focus on all that stuff.  We want the New Philly game to mean something next week, but anybody can beat anybody at this time of year.  Everybody's trying to get ready for the for the tournament, everybody's trying to solidify their conference and all of that goes into effect.  So, don't look past anybody and just kind of nose to the grindstone just kind of keep going,” said Hunt.

          Konner Daughriety pitched the shutout for the Jackets (15-3,9-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Tuesday.

          Hunt says Daughriety doesn’t really try to be overpowering.  “Again, Konnor Doherty came in and just kind of did what we've been asking them to do, not over pitch.  I think he knows, and this is kind of the fun part, he knows he could probably hit 90 a few times but he doesn't have to do that.  He has a defense that's good behind him.  So, for him to just kind of come in and settle down.  He had a rough first inning.  I think he had 20 some pitches and obviously that's not our goal.  Our goal for him is longevity, so continue for him to not overthrow, just kind of be around the zone, and let us defense help him out,” he said.

          Hunt credits a lot of their pitching success to the ability of catcher Ezra Kurek.  “I don't give enough credit to this guy every week, Ezra Kurek, our catcher, is phenomenal.  As coaches we don't call a pitch.  I think it's important in high school baseball for those guys to learn how to call a game and be a part of that.  Ezra has called every pitch.  He wants to know where we at in the lineup because he knows what this guy did the at bat before,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I don't give him enough credit, but he's unbelievable and for him to call a game the way he does and drop and block.  So, I think the battery of him and Konnor has then a godsend for us.  Not to mention we kind of have a two headed, almost three headed horse, with Kaden Packer going to be our two guy.  So, I think those two pieces together have been a big part of our runs scored versus runs against.”

 

Published 5/01/24

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Crestview Shuts Out Plymouth

 

          Crestview kept their Firelands Conference title hopes alive as they blanked Plymouth (4-0) on Tuesday evening.

          Conference leader South Central lost (8-5) to New London and they now share first place with Norwalk St. Paul, the Flyers smoked Monroeville (11-0) on Tuesday.  Crestview (9-8,8-4) now trails those two by two games.  South Central plays Mapleton in two games next week.  They also have a makeup with Monroeville.

          Crestview coach Don Keener says starting pitcher Jaret Ringler was terrific on Tuesday.  “It was an outstanding effort from Jaret Ringler, who went the whole game, had 13 strikeouts and only gave up two hits.  We played great defense behind him, didn't have an error,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night.

          Keener says making regular defending players is crucial at this level.  “Especially at the high school level. I mean the teams that commit the least amount of errors or are definitely going to be in the game and then usually a lot of times are going to be the ones on top,” said Kenner.

          Keener says it’s not just errors, but mistakes of any kind.  The teams that makes less almost always wins.  “There are those games where you don't field the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “You make a mistake on the bases and that's the difference in the game.  It's so important to just be fundamentally sound,” he said.

 

Published 5/01/24

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Wooster With Big Win

 

          Wooster remains a game back in the race in the Ohio Cardinal Conference after a (3-1) win in nine innings over Ashland on Monday evening.

          Coach Steve Young says they found a way to get some runs late in the game.  “It was a good one.  Objectively, Luke Bryant from Ashland, I think he's the best pitcher in our league.  Coming into it we knew we were going to see him for a second time this year.  We have seen him for four years and I've never seen that kid pitch any better than he did (Monday) night.  We were just telling our guys to kind of hunt fastballs and try and hit the top half of the baseball and put it in play and make them make plays.  I think towards the end there we were able to do that in the seventh.  We were able to execute a little bit of small ball and some good base running and just kind of scratch one across to kind of keep the game moving.  Then later just kind of became execution.  Honestly, I just felt that we stayed locked in for every single pitch and that's what I'm most proud of,” said Young.

          Wooster (10-3,7-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, got some good pitching too.  Young says all three of the guys they put on the mound did the job.  “We threw three different guys (Monday) night.  Brady (Bowen) did a heck of a job keeping us in it for the first five.  Went to a A.J. Litkowski in the sixth inning.  He went two outs and then just match up wise we had the opportunity to go left the on lefty, so we put Sam (Niesen) in there to pitch.  He came in and did a great job and going three and a third for us with eight strike outs.  So, did a great job filling it up with multiple pitches, hitting locations and played some pretty good defense behind it.  So, definitely a good night all around,” he said.

          Bowen and Brain Lapp both had two hits for the Generals.

          Wooster, who plays Mansfield Senior in “OCC” games on Tuesday and Wednesday, trails both Mt. Vernon and New Philadelphia by a game.

          Frankly, Young says they are only concerned about their performance every day.  “I said the last week or so, we kind of told her boys not to really focus so much on any long term results, but just kind of stay within ourselves and trust the process and just play the next pitch.  That's kind of been the mentality.  We're trying to build for a postseason run and at this point whatever happens in league happens.  We don't really control our own destiny anymore,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The only thing we can control is how we go out and perform and execute every single pitch of every single game.  So, that's been our focus.  I like the way we're trending.  We're starting to really do some things offensively.  We're starting to execute at a much higher level than we were early.  We've used 11 different arms, so all 11 guys come in and it's starting to work.  We're starting to get a few things rolling.  So, excited to see us continue to build and just try and stay sharper and locked in every single day.”

 

Published 4/30/24

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Columbian Keeps its Share

 

           Tiffin Columbian keeps a share of the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division lead after a (4-0) win over Clyde on Monday evening.

          Isaiah Tilse won his fifth game of the season and the Tornadoes (10-8,6-2) are tied for first place with Perkins.  Tiffin plays Norwalk on Wednesday and Clyde again on Friday in league games.

          Coach Nick Weber says it was a big win for them.  “It keeps us alive in the race for first place here.  It allows us to control our own destiny remaining of the week.  Last week was a very long week for us.  We got beat by two very good teams in Perkins and Bellevue last week.  So, to come back out on Monday and kind of regroup and set the tone for the rest of the week is a good thing for us,” said Weber.

          Weber says they have been telling the kids it’s one game at a time.  “Our message to the kids after Friday was one bite at a time.  We still control everything in front of us and not look ahead to Wednesday.  We're not looking ahead to Friday.  We just take one bite at time and keep moving forward and keep playing the game the right way,” he said.

          Again Monday, Tilse was in command, according to Weber.  “Isaiah won for us again (Monday) night.  He went seven innings and had 13 strikeouts and pitched very, very well around the zone, kept them off balance and gave us a shot.  We played defense behind him and made the routine plays that we needed to make,” he said.

          Tilse ha an ERA of 0.36 this season.  He has struck 83 in 37 and two thirds innings.

          Weber says they were able to strike early against Clyde.  “When Isaiah is on four runs is a very comfortable lead for me and I'm usually not comfortable.  We jumped out 3-0 in the first inning and we're able to get one in the second on a Jamison Woessner home run that put us up 4-0,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “That's all Isaiah needed.  Isaiah can take a deep breath seeing he's got some support.  He was able to do what he did and shut them down for the rest of the game.”

 

Published 4/30/24

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Calvert Downs Hopewell

 

          Calvert beat a solid Hopewell-Loudon team (7-2) on Monday evening in play in the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They continue to trail New Riegel by a game in the conference standings.  The Blue Jackets beat Danbury-Lakeside (16-0) on Monday.

          Calvert coach Matt Coleman says they took advantage of some opportunities.  “It was a hard fought battle.  Cohen Sendelbach was on the mound for Hopewell and he’s an All- Ohio competitor and he was showing it (Monday) night.  We were able to put the ball in play and force some miscues and we're pretty opportunistic with our base running and hitting, so it was fun,” said Coleman.

          Coleman says they got some very defense and pitching too.  “We utilized some small ball (Monday).  They had five errors, I think.  We were fortunate enough to turn three double plays behind A.J. Shoemaker, sophomore on the mound, threw well in his own right.  So, it was a nice little coming out moment for him,” he said.

          Calvert (15-2,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Old Fort in a division game on Tuesday.

          Coleman says to win the title it’s going to take a lot of really good play.  “It's going to be a battle.  There are five, six teams at the top that are really, in my opinion, playing well.  We come back (Tuesday) against an Old Fort team, we have Lakota yet this week and then we get to go play Edison.  When you talk about our league race you play everybody twice.  So, I know Hopewell and New Riegel, they still have yet to play.  We get another shot at New Riegel as well.  (Tuesday) all focus goes to Old Fort.  They're a good enough team to beat anyone on any given day,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We're one of those unique leagues where we we're going to play 18 league games.  So, I think we have 11 or 12 in the 11-1 maybe, 10-1.  So, yeah it's a little different than a couple of the other leagues with smaller numbers that maybe only have five, six, seven teams in it.  To have 10 and to play everybody twice it'll be interesting, but yeah you have got to be ready to play every day and one game at a time.”

 

Published 4/30/24

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Edison Keeps Pace

 

          Edison beat Vermilion (5-3) on Monday evening to maintain a share of the lead in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They share first with the Huron Tigers, who beat Willard (10-4) on Monday.  The Chargers (11-2,4-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, play Huron on Wednesday.

          Coach Sean Hoover says the win was big for a couple of reasons.  “Especially in the league and Vermilion got us the first time in a walk off at their place.  So, it was pretty big for us, not only in the league standings, but just confidence wise since they had gotten us the first time,” he said.

          Vermilion beat (4-3) earlier in the season and so far that is the Chargers only league loss.

          Blake Simon picked up his third win of the season and Hoover says Simon and Abe Hermes did the job.  “Blake did a nice job there for five innings.  Kind of kept them off balance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We threw the ball around a little bit on a couple bunts to help them get a couple of their runs there in the third inning.  Then Abe Hermes came in and threw strong to finish them off.”

          Davin Wendt hit a first inning homer for the Chargers and Hoover says that game them some energy.  “Davin hit a home run in the first inning and it was nice to see.  He's got probably more power than people give him credit for because he's not real big.  He went pretty well to right and got it up in the wind and that got us our first run,” said Hoover.

 

Published 4/30/24

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Softball Tournament Set

 

          The spring sports postseason is about to begin, in fact it begins next week with softball and baseball action.

          The softball pairings were set statewide on Sunday.

          Madison, Sandusky, and Ashland are in the NW district in Division I.  Madison is the sixth seed and hosts Oregon Clay on Wednesday, May 8.  Sandusky is at Toledo St. Ursula on Monday, May 6 and Ashland visits at Toledo Whitmer on the 8th.

          Mt, Vernon at the ninth seed in the Central District and will play Columbus Bishop Hartley or Westerville South on May 9.  Marion Harding plays at Hilliard Darby on May 7.

          In the NE district, Wooster is at Parma Normandy on May 6.

          In division II in the NW district, unbeaten Lexington is the top seed, followed by Clear Fork, Shelby and Norwalk.

          There are two sectional semifinals on Tuesday, May 7 with Tiffin Columbian at Vermilion and Bellevue is at “SBC” rival Sandusky Perkins.

          In sectional finals on Friday, May 10 Lexington hosts either Columbian or Vermilion, Ontario plays at Clyde, Clear Fork entertains either Bellevue or Perkins and Norwalk is at Shelby.

          In the Central district, River Valley will play either Hebron Lakewood or Bexley on May 8 and Highland host Whitehall-Yearling on May 6.

          Over in the East district, West Holmes plays host to West Muskingum or Maysville in May 6.  New Philadelphia entertains East Liverpool on May 8.

          Division III in the NW, Huron of the “SBC” Bay is the top seed, Crestview is second, Margaretta third, and Upper Sandusky fourth.

          There are three semis with Willard at Bucyrus, Galion hosting Colonel Crawford and Wynford at Edison on May 7,

          On the 10th, Huron gets either Bucyrus or Willard, Margaretta hosts Western Reserve, Galion or Colonel Crawford is at Crestview and Upper has the welcome mat for Wynford or Edison.

          Meanwhile, in the Central District, Marion Pleasant hosts Amanda-Clearcreek, Centerburg is at Utica and Northmor hosts Johnstown Northridge in semis on May 6.  Fredericktown hosts either Worthington Christian or Johnstown-Monroe and Cardington has Harvest Prep on May 8.

          In the NE District, Brookfield is at Canton South, Orrville at Fairless, Trinity visits Tuslaw, Laurel School is Waynedale, Dalton is at Chippewa and Black River is at Northwestern in first round games in May 7.  In sectional finals on May 9, Hillsdale, the second seed, gets the Orrville/Fairless winner, Manchester, the three seed, plays Columbia or Cuyahoga Heights, Loudonville, seeded fourth, plays at home against Tuslaw or Trinty, Wooster Triway, the top seed, has the Waynedale/Laurel winner, Smithville is at Independence, Mapleton plays either Dalton or Chippewa and Norwayne plays Black River or Northwestern.

          In one division IV district in the NW, Monroeville is seeded number one, New London is two, South Central three and Lucas is number four.

          There are two semis in this district set for Monday, May 6, as Norwalk St. Paul is at Seneca East and Mansfield Christian hosts Buckeye Central.

          Sectional finals at Thursday, May 9, with Lucas at home for the St. Paul/Seneca East winner, Crestline is at Monroeville, New London hosts Mansfield Christian or Buckeye Central and Plymouth is at South Central.
          In another division IV district, New Riegel is the top seed, followed by Hopewell-Loudon, Mohawk and Carey.

          Semis are also May 6 and sectional finals are May 9.

          Cory-Rawson is at North Baltimore with the winner playing at New Riegel, McComb visits Vanlue and the winner advances to play Mohawk, Arlington is at Tiffin Calvert and the winner gets Hopewell and Carey gets the winner of a semi between Arcadia and Riverdale.

          In a third district, and there Danbury Lakeside is the number one seed, Gibsonburg is number two, Fremont St, Joe is third, and Woodmore is four.

          In semifinals, Toledo Christian is at Emmanual Christian and Sandusky St. Mary’s visits Old Fort on May 6.

          Danbury entertains the Toledo Christian/Emmanual Christian winner, Kansas Lakota is at Woodmore, Gibsonburg hosts Old Fort or St. Mary’s and Ottawa Hills is at St. Joe on May 9.

          The Central District, Danville is the top seed, and will host either Newark Catholic, the second seed, or Shekinah Christian, on May 9.

 

Published 4/28/24

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Clear Fork Overwhelms Shelby… Again

 

          Garrett Hotz threw a shoutout and the Clear Fork offense erupted for 16 hits and the Colts drilled the rival Shelby Whippets (13-0) in six innings in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game in Shelby on Thursday evening.

          The win keeps Clear Fork tied for the top spot in the conference with Highland.  Shelby, who started the week in first place, is now a game behind.  Clear Fork (13-2,8-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com coaches poll in the large school division, plays Highland next Tuesday and Wednesday.

          Clear Fork coach Gabe Kennedy says his kids were mentally focused.  “Anytime you play a conference team we have got to be ready to go.  Shelby is always really, really, good, extremely competitive kids, they don't quit till the end and obviously very well coached.  Coming here to Shelby this was supposed to be played on Tuesday.  You talk about mental toughness.  We get a late bus and a late start.  We have got all the fans here, the umpires are here for 30 minutes and we can't start till our kids are ready to go,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They've been mentally tough.  We just told them, it's got nothing to do with the teams we are playing this way or that way, it doesn't matter.  Our schedule is loaded.  The kids right now are the ones that are doing the job.  It's not the coaching staff, it's the kids.  Right now, I told them I would hate to coach against us right now the way that we're playing.”

          The first two teams combined to strand 14 runners in the first three innings.  The only run scored in the top of the first when Clear Fork’s Luke Schlosser walked, Jay Jackson had an infield single and Mason Sansom drove in Schlosser with an RBI single.

          In fact, Clear Fork led only (1-0) after four innings of play.

          Shelby coach Jon Amicone says they couldn’t get a clutch hit.  “We had our opportunities earlier in the game to score on them early.  I think we left five guys in scoring position in three innings.  We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities and they did, that's the bottom line.  We have got to understand the opportunities in front of us.  We let them hang around and obviously they busted through and they did a great job in scoring position and we didn’t.  That was kind of the difference in the game,” said Amicone.

          The Whippets left the bases loaded in both the first and second innings and two on in the third.

          Hotz had command issues early in the game.  He walked six Whippets in the first three innings, but he ended the first with a strikeout, the second with a force play and third with a fly out.

          Kennedy says he was able to make big pitches when he had to.  “I mean 13-0, the score is a little bit misleading.  Garrett Hotz got into a lot of trouble.  We left guys on base too.  He got out of trouble.  It was one of the things where he was kind of on a short leash there late in the fifth inning, but then once we got the 10 run rule, we they decided to let him run,” said Kennedy.

          In the last three innings he worked, Hotz retired nine of the last 13 batters he faced.  Two of the Whippets that reached did so on errors.

          In the fourth, Clear Fork got to Shelby starter Nic Eyster.  After the Whippets failed to execute a double play, five straight Colts batters reached beginning with a single by Dawson Staley, an RBI single by Nate Lind, a hit by Schlosser, Jackson was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and then Samson cleared the bases with a double to right.

          The Colts then added seven more in the sixth.  Schlosser doubled to start the inning, Jackson drove him home with a single, Samson added another RBI single and that sent Eyster to the bench.  Lefty Travis Sloan replaced him.  He walked Kasey Swank, two Colts reached on errors, and Champ Delancy, Lind, Schlosser and Jackson followed with hits.

          Clear Fork is known for its small ball game, but Kennedy says Thursday they had their hitting shoes on.  “The nice thing is we didn't have to do it the way that we normally do with stealing bases and bunting.  We didn't have to do that at all.  Our kids came ready to hit.  Nic Eyster is a heck of a pitcher, we just got to him,” he said.

          Schlosser and Jackson each had four hits.  Samson and Delancy had three a piece.  Samson had five RBI, Jackson had three.

          The Colts will play Loudonville in a non-conference game on Friday. 

          Kennedy says they will worry about Highland next week.  “I told the kids we are focused on Loudonville as a head coach I'm already on to next day.  I want them to celebrate and enjoy this, this is a big win, but I'm ready for Loudonville and then we get to Highland next week we'll see what we’ve got,” he said.

 

Published 4/26/24

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Mt. Vernon Not Looking Ahead

 

          Mt. Vernon holds down first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference after getting past Madison (4-2) on Thursday evening at Madison.

          They lead New Philadelphia by a half game in the standings.

          The Jackets had beaten Madison (8-0) on Wednesday at home.

          Coach Nate Hunt says it was not their best performance, but it was good enough to win.  “It's showing up every day.  We talk week after week about the conference, about how it’s back-to-back.  I think it's just one of those things.  (Wednesday) it was cold and our bats were hot and (Thursday) was really nice and we didn't swing it as well as we'd like to.  Just kind of shows that you have got to show up every day and just kind of be ready to compete.  I thought Madison did a nice job (Thursday) of barreling (Kayden) Packard up more so than (Wednesday).  It's just one of those things, it's not the best team that that that wins it is the team that plays the best.  There were times when then we didn't play our best, but it was enough to do the job,” said Hunt.

          Madison (2-10,2-7) has been played better as of late and coach Nick Melton says he was pleased with what they did Thursday.  “I really couldn’t have asked for more out of our guys (Thursday) night.  I thought we played one of our more complete games of the year.  Liam Stone threw it really well for us.  He limited one of the best offenses in our league to six hits and four runs.  Offensively, we put the ball in play at a better rate, giving us better opportunities.  We even out hit Mt. Vernon.  We now need to find a way to collect a two out hit to capitalize on those opportunities,” said Melton.

          Jackets coach Hunt says they have got to focus on the task at hand.  “Sometimes they're ugly and sometimes they're great.  I think the conference this year it's different than it's been in the past.  We have two big weeks of four big games to kind of solidify the season.  I was talking to some guys about, who do have next week?  Is the first one home or the second one home?  I said honestly, I don't know, I'll have to go back and look because I'm trying to instill into our players, and to myself too, that I'm not looking at anything else other than what we're doing today,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I can't tell you what Tuesday’s game is I'm not sure.  Because if you start doing that, I feel like I've been doing it long enough, that if you start looking past things and past teams and that's when you get beat.”

          Mt. Vernon (13-2,8-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, will play West Holmes next week and then New Philadelphia on the final week of the regular season.

          Hunt says they can’t be thinking about that.  “I'm truly taking it day by day.  (Friday) we're going to practice.  Saturday we're going to play Licking Heights and then we'll look into the next week.  Until that time comes, I'm not going to deal with it.  It's where your feet are is right now our best mindset moving forward,” he said.

 

Published 4/26/24

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South Central Belts Plymouth

 

          South Central stayed in sole possession of first place in the Firelands Conference as they laced Plymouth (14-6) in conference game on Thursday evening.

          Yes, they are in first place, but coach Nick Kirk says they don’t talk about that much.  “It really is just take it game by game, play our baseball, let that do the talking and not put pressure on ourselves.  We have been doing that really good lately.  Just playing good baseball.  Not making too many mistakes and backing it up with hitting and getting on base and then was pitching as well,” he said.

          Kirk says this was one of their best offensive performances of the spring.  “It was pretty exciting.  We finally started getting multiple innings in a row with runs scored.  We saw a lot of pitches.  That's the one thing that we do really well I think as a team is we take a lot of pitches trying to find the one that we want.  Put the ball in play, put pressure on the defense to make plays, which is what we did (Thursday) and we're able to capitalize on some mistakes and score some runs to give us a little bit of a cushion and play some really good baseball,” said Kirk.

          South Central (10-2,8-1) have two, two games series with New London and Mapleton left, plus a makeup game with Monroeville.

          Kirk says their offensive philosophy is to remain patient at the plate.  “It's a great thing to see.  We always tell them to find your pitch that you can swing level and drive through and they take that to heart.  A lot of these kids play baseball throughout the summer and this is one of their sports that they just love to play.  It really shows that to be patient and get up there and find their own pitch, which has worked in our favor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think there are lot of them are starting to realize more pitches you see you get the other team’s pitcher’s pitch count up.  Sometimes stamina is not there and they start to struggle.  You start waiting for of your pitch and either hit the pitch that you want or draw that walk that a lot of them are doing now.”

 

Published 4/26/24

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Clear Fork Hammers Shelby

 

          Clear Fork moved into a share of first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference with a (10-2) walloping of rival Shelby on Wednesday night at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The Colts now are in a first place tie Shelby and Highland.  The Fighting Scots beat River Valley (5-2) on Wednesday.

          Coach Gabe Kennedy says now goal is to win on Thursday at Shelby.  “I mean Shelby's, they're always a good team, very well coached, kids playing really, really hard.  We kind of have similar styles offensively.  Every single win is the biggest win of the year if it's that day.  We were fortunate enough to win (Wednesday) night and we have got to go to Shelby (Thursday) and try to see if we can get two,” said Kennedy.

          Clear Fork took advantage early and put up a big number in the first inning and Kennedy says they looked like they knew what they were doing.  “Our kids are aggressive on the bases.  We're not sneaking up on anybody with that.  They took advantage of some things, some mistakes (Wednesday) night.  We always say good teams do that and we look like a good team you know in the first match up with Shelby.  So, I'm really proud of our kids.  They're tough kids.  We came out to a quick lead (8-0) in the first inning and we didn't look back,” said Kennedy.

          Kennedy says they had some special activities going on that pumped the kids up, plus they had Luke Schlosser on the hill.  “Our kids were riding high.  The unstoppable kids we're out there and we introduced them.  Softball and baseball we're kind of in on that with a little camp on Sunday.  So, our kids had a little extra juice (Wednesday) night.  Our coaching staff, we were really enjoying seeing our kids you know with those young kids and having a great time,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It's one of those things.  Luke Schlosser was on the mound.  Luke had 16 strikeouts.  He was phenomenal.  That dude is unbelievable competitor wise, he's awesome and anytime you have got him on the mound you feel like you got a chance, especially when you go up early.”

          Clear Fork (12-2,7-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Shelby (8-4,7-2), #1 in our poll, on Thursday evening in game that was originally scheduled for Tuesday.

          Kennedy says he has to have his kids ready.  “After the win, our kids were excited, as they should be.  Right away, I'm thinking of (Thursday).  I'm thinking of (Thursday), who's going to pitch for them, who's going to pitch for us, what our lineup might look like, different things like that, which is good, I should be focused on that stuff.  That stuff should stress me out. Our kids should enjoy the moment, enjoy the win and that's what we try to do,” he said.

 

Published 4/25/24

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Madison Edges Mt. Vernon

 

          Madison picked up a key win on Wednesday as they went to Mt. Vernon and knocked off the Lady Jackets (3-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference softball game.

          Madison remains three games behind league leader Lexington.  However, they still have Lady Lex on the schedule.

          Coach Tim Niswander says Wednesday was a nice win for them.  “This group of kids has never beaten Mt. Vernon.  We are their biggest rival, for whatever reason, they're certainly not ours, not taking anything away from them because it's a big game.  I think part of the reason is because for a long time we pushed them and they pushed us and we're two pretty good programs and that kind of creates a rivalry a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Then coach (Ryan) Pentz and I are actually really good friends.  We talk a lot away from the ball field.  We do things here and there.  It's fun because he's my friend and I'm his friend but at the same time we're very much alike and we very much both want to win and neither one of us I don't think are the are the best losers to be around.  So, it's a good time because they're always well played games, they're always close games.  For the longest time they've kind of had our number and (Wednesday) night it was nice to finally get off the snide a little bit.”

          Niswander says it was a game of home runs.  “Well, they hit a two run homer in the bottom of the second inning and then Kyle Ryder hit a solo shot in the top of the third and then Ashley Markley hit a two run shot in the sixth.  So, that was all of the scoring.  Every run came on a home run.  They had a two run shot, we had a two run shot and a solo shot, so I guess the difference you could look there would be the one base runner that we had on,” he said.

          Niswander says the real difference for them was the pitching of Layla Azmoun, who was outstanding.  “The other part of it is Layla Azmoun was lights out again (Wednesday) night.  She only gave up four hits, she struck out five and didn't walk anybody.  So, she did a really nice job of moving the ball in and out, changing speeds, and getting a lot of swing and misses and a lot of miss hits that were pop ups or weak ground balls.  I guess if you have to point to one thing it would be Layla in the circle, but we had contributions defensively from a number of kids and it was a total team win,” said Niswander.

 

Published 4/25/24

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Crestview Gets Closer

 

          Crestview won a game they had to have on Wednesday evening as the Lady Cougars trimmed Firelands Conference co-leader Mapleton (3-2) in a conference game.

          They now are a game behind both Mapleton and Monroeville, who beat South Central (7-2) on Wednesday.

          Coach Scott Durbin called it a must win for his team.  “It was a huge win.  It was a must win for us.  I mean Mapleton sitting there on top with no losses, so it was a must win for us.  To give them give them their first loss was big if we want to stay in the race,” he said.

          Crestview (11-5,6-2) will play Western Reserve in a conference game on Thursday.  The Lady Riders lost (3-0) to New London on Wednesday.  The Lady Cougars game at Mapleton, rained out on Tuesday, is now scheduled for the end of the regular season, May 11, and that could end of pretty important.

          Durbin says they have to take care of their own business.  “We've talked about it.  We had our two losses we knew what was ahead of us.  Obviously, the biggest thing ahead of us was Mapleton sitting there at 12-1 overall undefeated in the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night after the win, “We were in a hole and you want help, you hope for help, but in the end, we know to stay in it we've got to take care of our own business.  We have no other choice right now so and we'll see what happens.”

          On Wednesday, P.J. Endicott had two RBI against Mapleton and Durbin says Chesnie Patton was tremendous.  “Chesnie Patton was fantastic in the circle.  To be really honest, I'm not sure she had her best stuff, but she's gotten a lot mentally tougher in that circle and she can win without her best stuff.  When I say that, that's saying something against the lineup that Mapleton has.  I mean that's a good lineup, so you go out and win without your best stuff, that's a good night,” said Durbin.

 

Published 4/25/24

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Wooster Fights Back

 

          Wooster, the defending champion in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, stays in the race this spring with an (11-8) win at home on Wednesday evening over New Philadelphia.

          The Generals now trail the Quakers and Mt. Vernon by a game in the standings.  New Philly and Mt. Vernon play in two weeks.  Wooster ends the “OCC” campaign with a game against Ashland, who shares third place with them, plus Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Madison, the bottom two teams in the standings.

          After an (11-1) loss to New Philadelphia on Tuesday, coach Steve Young says they had some serious discussions.  “It's been an interesting week or so for us.  Obviously, things didn’t go as planned last week with Mt. Vernon and then turn around (Tuesday) night.  Honestly, that was the second time in my tenure that we've been run ruled.  So, we truly challenged our guys (Tuesday) night and again (Wednesday) to come out and compete and fight and whatever happens, happens,” said Young.

          He says the Generals (7-3,5-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, came out Wednesday with a different attitude.  “The way that we played (Tuesday) night was unacceptable.  Everyone knew it and our guys came out (Wednesday) from the very first pitch and we're ready to put it all on the line.  This is the result we got.  So, we're happy to get back in the win column, but really just more proud of how the guys responded from all of the adversity,” he said.

          Young says the win over the Quakers was truly a team win with kids stepping up.  “We had five guys with two hits.  We actually were down our starting shortstop (Wednesday) and have some guys and some new positions.  Had a freshman making his first start at shortstop and we had another guy playing second base that hasn't had a whole lot of plays yet this year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Those guys, I tip my cap to them.  They just stayed ready.  They come every day, they work knowing they’re not going to get the playing time everybody would want, but they have just stayed ready, they've been selfless, they put the team first.  (Wednesday) when the when the number was called, they were able to kind of produce for us and it was it was awesome to see.  That's the kind of stuff you like to see is kids like that kind of reap the benefits of their hard work.”

 

Published 4/25/24

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Crawford Holds off Carey

 

          Colonel Crawford hung on Wednesday evening to beat Carey (7-6) in a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach Jordan Oliver says there was some nervousness, but things came out all right.  “We made it a little bit more interesting than we probably needed to in the top of the seventh.  Made a couple errors that allowed them to score a couple runs, but I'll give our guys credit we hung in there.  One of our seniors Micah Thomas came in and got the final out for us in relief as our starter his pitch count got kind of high.  So, I was glad to see that Micah wanted the ball and he came and got us the final out.  It's good for our young team to win a close game like that,” said Oliver.

          Oliver says they went put and played at a pretty high level.  “We told our guys that that we felt like us and Carey were pretty evenly matched.  Especially playing at home we wanted to try our best to compete with Carey and if possible pull out a win.  So, I was very proud of our guys that playing against a Carey team that's capable of beating anybody in our league.   I'm so happy that we were able to come out with the close victory,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (5-8,4-5) has won three of its last five and Oliver says they are starting to turn it around.  “We had to kind of refocus ourselves after a doubleheader against Upper Sandusky.  Give credit to them they're really good team.  They run ruled us two games in a row in a doubleheader and our guys were really down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We talked about how our attitude needed to improve, our focus needs to get better, and I would say ever since then, we haven't won every game since then, but I feel like our attitude, our effort in the game and just controlling what we can control has gotten better from that time forward.  That's our goal as a team right now is just to be playing our best baseball going into the tournament.”

 

Published 4/25/24

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Hillsdale With Huge Win Over Waynedale

 

          Hillsdale grabbed a big win on Tuesday evening when they beat Wayne County Athletic League co-leader Waynedale (7-3) in a league game.

          They remain two games beind Norwayne in the “WCAL” standings.   The Bobcats beat Dalton (5-1) on Tuesday.  Waynedale leads them by just a game.  They play the two time defending division III state champions again on Wednesday, this time in Apple Creek.

          Coach Jason Snow says they feel pretty good about the win.  “It was big win for our kids.  We've really played well.  Last week, with Norwayne we had two one run games that we dropped to them.  This was kind of a must win if we want to have any hopes of competing for the conference.  We knocked off their big gun.  Proud of our kids.  Our younger kids are excited and proud of our older kids for leading the way,” said Snow.

          Hillsdale (8-4,6-2) put up a five spot in the bottom of the fifth inning and Snow says that was key to win.  “We had 2-0 lead and they got a couple in the fourth.  With the weather, you could see getting dark, getting cold, getting windy.  We were hoping to be the team that got the lead not knowing what would happen with the weather, we did get all seven in.  Our seniors came through big for us, Owen Hoffman had a huge game offensively with three RBIs and Gavin Casdorph got the win and hit a two run bomb in that big 5 run inning,” said Snow.

          Snow says they sort of road the backs of their seniors in that win on Tuesday.  “We all guys on the bases and we hadn't had a lot of opportunities until that point. We got a big sac fly that got that first run in that inning and then we just had a couple big hits,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Really our seniors led the way.  Byron Bickel got a big base hit to give us that fifth run and that set up Gavin for a two-run homer to close that inning out.  We were able to hang on to that win.”

 

Published 4/24/24

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Highland Downs River Valley

 

          Highland stays a game back in the standings in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after a (7-2) win at home against River Valley on Tuesday evening.

          They are tied with Clear Fork a game behind Shelby entering play on Wednesday.

          Coach Donnie Kline says they kept creating chances to score against River Valley.  “Well, I think it was an old school kind of high school game.  It was close for a while and we just kept kind of coming in at them and waves on offense and we're able to score some runs late.  It was a 3-2 game for most of the part.  So, I tip my cap to both pitchers and both defenses.  It was a fun game, frustrating at times for sure, but a fun game overall,” said Kline.

          Kort Sears picked up the win for the Fighting Scots. 

          Kline says their goal on offense is to put pressure on the opponent’s defense to make plays.  “I think I would categorize our offense as being very opportunistic.  So, we just kind of stay with what works.  We are very small ball and people know that.  I think we start to put pressure on the defense and you hope you get a crack.  You hope that the pressure breaks the defense.  A lot of times it does, sometimes it doesn't, but (Tuesday) night, we were able to make that happen,” he said.

          Shortstop Jayden Collins had a two run single in the second.  They added another in the third when Jace Brooks led off the inning with a double and scored on a two out hit by Henrick Karya.  They put it away with a four spot in the bottom of the sixth.  With the bases loaded, River Valley misplayed a ball hit by Zach Church and all three runners scored.  Hayden Kline then singled home Church.

          Highland (13-2,7-2), #2 in first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, takes the bus to River Valley on Wednesday.

          Highland is the defending league champion and Kline says this is going to be a race to end.  “I think this is going to be a really fun action packed to end of the season.  We're excited to kind of be in it still.  We watch the scoreboard as games are over, but all we can control is what we control.  The game in front of us, pitch by pitch and play by play,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win Tuesday, “We try to wait till the end of the game to kind of look over the fence to see where everybody else is at.  It's been fun, it really has been, and it's a real challenge.  I think that I’ll serve all the teams in the “MOAC” very well when we get in tournament play because again there are no nights off and every game is a real dogfight.”

 

Published 4/24/24

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Ontario Outscores Harding

 

          Ontario stays in the thick of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference race with a (12-9) win at Marion Harding on Tuesday evening.

          They trail Shelby by two and Clear Fork and Highland by one in the conference standings.

          Coach Mike Ellis says they pounded the ball in not so great weather on Tuesday.  “We just kept squaring up the ball and stuff like that.  It was us some nasty conditions.  We had some errors.  The good thing is that they really couldn't stop us.  We kept getting people on base and getting clutch hits all night.  So, I'm satisfied we got to win considering the conditions,” said Ellis.

          After Tuesday, Ellis hopes his club continues to hit the ball and gets contagious.  “Well, I hope so.  I hope it carries on for the game with them (Wednesday), but yeah it does.  We played Lexington on Monday and we only had four hits and Lexington only had three.  It was a pitching duel.  So, I was happy about (Tuesday) night and then I'm hoping they'll carry over for (Wednesday),” he said.

          The Warriors beat Lex (3-2) on Monday in a non-conference game.

          Ontario (9-6,6-3) plays at home against Harding on Wednesday afternoon.

          Last season, Ontario got red hot in the tournament and advanced all of the way to the state final.

          Ellis says they need to get on a streak now.  “When we went to Myrtle Beach we were two 2-1 down there and then when we came back we were on a little run until we played Clear Fork.  Give Clear Fork credit, they played better on that night than us.  Then we played Triway and we just fell apart.  I mean we were up after two innings 8-0 and we just fell apart.  I kind of snowballed if you get an error and then it becomes two errors or three errors and we lost 10-9 against them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “I told the boys after that game that we needed the get back on the winning track and try to learn from our mistakes our last two losses and and try to get a streak going.”

 

Published 4/24/24

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Ashland Smokes West Holmes

 

          Ashland kept itself in the race in the Ohio Cardinal Conference as they blasted West Holmes (11-1) in five innings in a home conference game on Tuesday evening.

          They trail conference leader New Philadelphia by two games.  The Quakers hammered defending champion Wooster (11-1) and Lexington beat Mansfield Senior (11-5).  Mt. Vernon and Madison were rained out on Tuesday.

          Coach Rick Gough says again it was an outstanding performance by their ace Luke Bryant.  “Luke Bryant had a great night on the mound.  He threw a complete five inning game, had eight strikeouts, one walk, no earned runs, he did a great job,” he said.

          Gough reiterates that when they give the ball to Bryant, they expect to end the night with a “W.”  “I think he gave up three hits (Tuesday) night and he battled.  Like I said many times before, every time Luke’s on the mound you know we expect to win,” said Gough.

          Ashland (8-3,4-3), #4 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at West Holmes on Wednesday.

          Gough says they have very good pitching and now they are starting to hit the ball too.  “Well, our bats are finally starting to wake you up.  Over the weekend, on Friday and Saturday last week, we had 19 hits,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “I haven't checked how many we had (Tuesday) night, but we're putting the ball in play and striking out a lot less.  That's going to go a long way moving forward.”

 

Published 4/24/24

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Northmor With Big Win over Fredericktown

 

          Northmor got a win they had to have on Monday evening as they shutout Fredericktown (8-0) in Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game.

          Both the Golden Knights and Fredericktown trail East Knox and Centerburg by a game.  East Knox blanked Mt. Gilead (5-0) and Centerburg beat Cardington (6-3) on Monday.

          Trevor Brubaker was fantastic again for Northmor.  He went six innings, allowing four hits, walking two and striking out six.

          Coach Buck Workman says he has been like that all year.  “Brubaker's has been on it all year.  I don't know the exact numbers, but I think he's pitched 37 innings maybe and he's given up one run total, earned or unearned, so he's just been crazy,” he said.

          Workman says he can throw three pitches in any count.  “His biggest attribute is he's got three pitches that he can throw for strikes anytime on the count.  (Grant) Bentley are very similar in that respect.  You can't sit on that fastball even if it's hitter’s count because they can mix it up and they can throw anything for a strike at anytime,” said Workman.

          Cuffman and Harvey each got two hits on Monday and Workman says they whole lineup was hitting.  “That's an explosion for us here lately because we're not a big run scoring team.  So, I think we scored one or two in every inning (Monday) night and that's just huge for us,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “If we can get those bats going.  I think we rapped out 10 hits with eight different guys getting hits and seven different guys getting RBIs, so that's nice to see that top to bottom we were able to do some things with the bats.  Hopefully we can keep that going.”

          Northmor (11-2,7-2), #3 in the first Swankonsports.com coaches poll in the small school division, would have fallen two games behind the leaders with a loss and Workman says the win was critical.  “We had to have this.  I mean Fredericktown is well coached.  Coach (Ryan) Hathaway over there and his staff, they do a great job, so you can't ever take them lightly.  They lost a lot to graduation, but they're never going to go away.  They just reload over there.  It was nice to bounce back and do what we did,” said Workman.

 

Published 4/23/24

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Maxwell Dominates Plymouth

 

          Kole Maxwell struck out 20 and Norwalk St. Paul blanked Plymouth (7-0) in a Firelands Conference game on Monday evening.

          Coach Aaron Fries says Maxwell was the difference.  “I'd say it was mostly the pitching.  Kole (Maxwell), our number one, he was really good (Monday) night.  He was in command from the start.  Had a little trouble maybe middle of the game there, but nothing really to write home about.  So, yeah it was mostly him,” said Fries.

          Jarrett Butler got both of the hits that Maxwell allowed.

          Fries says Maxwell has had a very consistent all season.  “You just kind of put him out there and let him do his thing.  He kind of did that (Monday) night.  Some nights maybe he needs a little bit more help than others. but he's been pretty reliable and pretty consistent this year,” he said.

          Maxwell is 4-1 with a 0.46 ERA this spring.  He has 72 strikeouts in 30 innings this season.

          Drew Kunkle has two hits and RBI for the Flyers.  Ashton Stang added a hit and two RBI.

          St. Paul (9-4,7-2) trails South Central by a game in the Firelands.  They play at Plymouth (5-6,3-3) on Wednesday afternoon.

          Fries says it’s simple, they have to keep winning.  “I think at this point we don't have much margin for error.  We have five conference games left, I think.  We stayed on schedule as far as that goes.  I think some other teams might have a few more games to play than we do,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “In my mind I think we just got to keep winning and doing what we need to do to kind of stay up.  If South Central slips up or something and hopefully we'll be right there then.  For us, I think you it's kind of a no margin for error, we just need to keep winning.”

 

Published 4/23/24

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Edison Hammers Port Clinton

       

 

          Three Edison pitchers combined on a one hit shutout and the Chargers blasted Port Clinton (13-0) in five innings on Monday night in play in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Coach Sean Hoover says all three of their guys were on their game.  “Carson (Smith) did a really nice job on the mound.  Eli and Abe (Hermes) finished up with a couple strong innings.  At the plate we got some timely hits and did a good job with just really being patient and waiting for our pitch,” he said.

          Smith had eight K’s over three innings pitched.

          Marcus Medina led the offensive onslaught with three RBI on the night.

          Hoover says his kids have been staying patient.  “Our guys up and down the lineup have been doing very well.  We've scored a lot of runs here lately, which I guess if you asked me earlier in the season, maybe before we started, that was probably one of the things we need to work on the most,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Our guys have really bought in and just do a great job of trying to get on the ball so they could hit early in the counts and go up there and battle every pitch.”

          Edison (9-2,3-1), #4 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, shares first place with Huron in the Bay Division Standings.  The Chargers host Margaretta in a division game on Wednesday afternoon.

          Hoover says he wants the players to go to the plate with a plan in mind.  “We keep charts on pitcher tendencies and stuff for opponents and things like that.  So, hopefully the guys check those out enough that they have an idea of what the pitcher might throw when and just kind of go up there with an approach of what they're looking for in certain pitches,” said Hoover.

 

Published 4/23/24

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Crestview Blanks New London

 

          Crestview got back to their winning ways with a (5-0) shutout of the New London Lady Wildcats in Firelands Conference play on Thursday evening.

          Coach Scott Durbin says they had good focus and played some fundamental softball Thursday.  “We were coming off at two really, really tough losses.  We got back in the gym (Wednesday) night for practice and we talked a little bit and then we really had a great practice and got back to paying attention to little things.  We just came out and had a great team win,” he said.

          Earlier this week, Monroeville beat the Lady Cougars (3-2) and (4-3) in back to back games.

          Durbin says the New London win was huge for them.  “I told the girls (Wednesday) night, we're at a point here where this this thing can go off the rails or we can refocus and start paying attention to the little things and fix our body language and our effort and get the excitement back and honestly that's exactly what happened.  I mean top to bottom the girls were fired up.  They battled, they showed some mental toughness and you could tell they didn't want this thing to go the wrong way and they responded,” said Durbin.

          At (4-2) in conference play, Crestview trails Mapleton by two games, they play them twice next week, and Monroeville by one.  They are tied with South Central, a team they beat twice.

          Durbin says the conference is up for grabs, but you have to come to play every night.  “We have talked about it before.  Mapleton rolling right along, obviously Monroeville’s good and New London they're good, they've got a great pitcher and a great catcher.  There's four teams that can win it.  We were talking (Thursday) night and there's a chance who can win this league with two or three losses or tie for it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It's good softball and you have got to be ready to play, there's no doubt about it.  I thought we were ready to play against Monroeville too, but they came out on top.  We lost a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh and that's tough to swallow and to bounce back the way we did (Thursday) night, I couldn't be prouder of the girls.”

 

Published 4/19/24

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Northmor Downs Danville

 

          Northmor got a three run homer from Drew Hammond and a complete game six hitter from Trevor Brubaker and they beat Danville (6-1) on Thursday evening in a game in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference.

          That kept them in a four way share of first place in the conference with East Knox, Centerburg and Fredericktown.  They are scheduled to play the arch rival Freddies on Friday.

          The Golden Knights (10-1,6-1) scored four times in the top of the first inning, three coming on a long ball from Hammond.

          Coach Buck Workman says that gave them some energy.  “We needed that.  A couple walks from Bentley and Cuffman and then Drew (Hammond) hit a three run home run to get us off and running,” he said.

          Brubaker got into a jam in the bottom of the first, by Workman says he was able to limit the damage.  “Incredibly, that was the first run that has been scored on Trevor all year,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “He had the bases loaded and nobody out, they had a couple seeing eye singles and they next thing you know he's in a jam, but he worked out of it.  He gave up one, but settled down from that point forward and a nice game.”

          Workman says they have to be ready every day because the “KMAC” this year is loaded with good teams.  “Like I said at the beginning of the year, every night you have got to earn what you get because there's no off nights.  I mean every time you go out there somebody capable of beating you,” said Workman.

 

Published 4/19/24

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Madison Gets Past Huron

 

          Madison downed Huron (3-1) in a softball game at home on Thursday evening in non-conference play.

          Coach Tim Niswander says they got a couple of good wins on a week when they didn’t play an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  “(Thursday) was a good win.  Monday against Elyria Catholic was a good win.  This was our week to play Senior High in the conference and they didn't have softball, so we replaced them with Elyria Catholic and Huron and that was a much more competitive game, both of those,” he said.

          Madison (7-5) has now won four its last five and Niswander says they starting to play better.  “We're starting to settle in.  We've got young kids in key spots and they're just now starting to figure out what we want and how we do things.  (Thursday) night was our first error free game.  We've gotten better and better every game I think as the year has gone on.  We took a little step back Saturday.  We beat Clyde 12-1 and then we lost the Eastwood the next game 5-3.  We really didn't have any business losing that game.  So, we are getting better, we're getting more consistent.  Our pitcher is starting to settle into a groove and our kids around her are playing good defense now,” said Niswander.

          Niswander says picking up games, like they did this week, is something that pretty common in softball.  He adds their still in the market.  “We picked up Fredericktown, who we've never played before, at least in the time that I've been at Madison.  We play them here in a couple weeks.  We picked Clear Fork up again on Friday.  We are already scheduled to play Clear Fork on May 6 and coach Clapper called me and said they had somebody dropped them Friday, you guys want to play?  I'm like heck yeah we do, so we're going to go down to Clear Fork on Friday.  Then we're still going to play them at home in a couple of weeks.  So, that's not uncommon at all,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We're still down two games.  We lost a game against Shelby.  We were supposed to play a doubleheader on a Saturday and we can only get one in.  Then we lost a game against Dover, so we're still looking for two games.  We're going to try and find somebody to fill those games where we don't have to drive all over creation.  A lot of the people that are hitting me for a game are Anthony Wayne and Bryan and we can't do two hours on a school night, that's just not going to work.  So, we're going to try and find those two games that we can pick up and hopefully they're competitive games and they help us get better and help us going into the tournament.”

 

Published 4/19/24

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South Central Pounds St. Paul

 

          South Central moved into a share of first place in the Firelands Conference with a (10-4) victory at home over Norwalk St. Paul on Thursday evening.

          The win moved them into a tie of first place with St. Paul.

          Coach Nick Kirk says they got pretty good efforts in all phases of the game.  “We played pretty well.  We capitalized on a couple errors here and there by St. Paul and played an all around pretty good game.  Aaron Hauler pitched for us.  He got himself in trouble a couple of times, but was able to get himself out of it and had a really good showing (Thursday) night.  I believe he had 13, 14 strikeouts, so pretty solid performance.  Our bats came alive and that really helps when you put it in play and make the defense plays good things happen,” he said.

          Kirk says Hauler has really improved as a pitcher.  “He's been working on it all winter, even last year.  He's been one of our aces and proud of him.  He's grown a lot over the past couple years.  Maxwell for St. Paul is definitely a really good pitcher, but I feel like Hauler definitely making this way up there as well.  So, definitely proud of him and the way that he does carry himself.  I always preached to our pitchers don't show any emotion out there, don't let a ball call that you think is a strike make you show emotion towards the umpire.  That seems to be working out pretty well for him, settle down and get back to the mechanics and keep us in ballgames a lot,” said Kirk.

          South Central (7-2,5-1) travels to St. Paul (7-3,6-1) on Friday for the rematch.

          Kirk says you have to be on your game if you are going to win in the Firelands.  “If you look around our conference there's about five pretty solid teams and then there's three that you could lose to any given night.  That's the good thing about baseball is any team can lose at any time as long as they come to play and the other team doesn't necessarily play their best,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Definitely a quality win for us if we want to keep any hopes alive of chasing after the conference we need to win out the rest of the year.  Teams are going to be gunning for us, I want to don't put any pressure on us, but as long as we keep playing baseball the way we are I don't see us having too many losses.  You never know, that's the great thing about baseball.”

 

Published 4/19/24

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Bucks Gets Two to Beat Crawford

 

          In a suspended game that started last week, Buckeye Central scored twice in the top of the eighth Thursday afternoon and beat Colonel Crawford (9-7) in a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they had some key performances on Thursday.  “When we started this game last week, we were up by five and in the seventh and let it slip away.  Crawford was resilient and came back and it was 7-7.  Last week, we were able to get a couple runners on board.  Brent Jones had a double and Heath Jensen had a single.  We runners on second and third and a full count on Isaac Hiler.  We started (Thursday) with a full count on Isaac Hiler and he walked.  We got a big hit from J.J. Hiler that kind of got the ball rolling and got a couple of runs across.  Isaac Hiler pitched a scoreless eighth and we're able to get it done.  We had some adversity, but I'm really proud of our kids for finishing the game,” said Jensen.

          Jensen says they had to be tough mentally on Thursday.  “We talk about with our kids all the time.  We talk a lot about the mental part of the game.  We really believe in that.  We talk about three facets, green when everything's going well, yellow when there's some doubt, and red when you're really lost.  We always talk about our kids getting back to green.  We had some adversity before the game was suspended, but they came back (Thursday) and were focused.  We were really proud of our kids, they were really focused and prepared as if it would be longer than an inning and I think that was the key.  I think our preparation as if it would be a full game I think really helped us,” he said.

          With the game starting in the eighth inning, Jensen says they knew there was no room for mistakes.  “My assistant Tyler Pope and I were talking about that (Thursday) that it was just a different type of mentality and that's what we told our kids.  Guys it's the eighth and you have got to have that mentality right now.  There's no time to settle in.  If you give up three in an inning then hey we have got the rest of the game to get it back.  There is nothing like that here, you have to start with the pedal down right away,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Our kids did that and I was really proud of them.  I mean it was if a tough situation and to make it more interesting is that we were playing at Bucyrus, which was fine with us because Crawford ended up playing a game against Bucyrus after that, so it was really unique and our kids handled that adversity.”

 

Published 4/19/24

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Clear Fork Runs Past Harding

 

          Clear Fork beat Marion Harding for the second straight day, this time (8-1) on Tuesday, at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          Second baseman Nate Lind started the bottom of the first inning with a single, stole two bases, and scored on a hit by shortstop Jay Jackson.  That was the way the day was going to be, the Colts running around the bases like race cars.

          The old cliché is the tortoise beats the hare, yeah, but don’t believe it, speed kills.

          Jackson would score later in the inning on a wild pitch to make (2-0) Colts after one inning.

          Harding (2-5,2-1) would score their run in the top of the second on RBI single, but Clear Fork would add another in their half of the second when Garrett Hotz singled, stole a base, moved up on a sac bunt by Trevor Kinnamon and scored when the Presidents threw the ball away.

          Clear Fork added another in the third when Luke Schlosser singled, you guessed it, stole a base and eventually scored when Casey Swank kept the play alive when he got into a rundown.

          The Colts (11-2,5-2) never scored more than two in an inning, but they scored in every inning but the fourth.  “That's one of the things.  We keep a base running chart for all of our games.  Dirtball reads, infield hits, sacrifice bunts, first to third situations, stolen bases, all that stuff.  We really put an emphasis around the bases.  Instead of just going base to base, we want to put pressure on the defense, like I said before, and I think we did a nice job of that,” said Clear Fork coach Gabe Kennedy.

          The Colts made up for it by scoring twice in the fifth when Schlosser was hit by pitch with two out and Jackson followed with an RBI triple over the rightfielder’s head.  He scored on a wild pitch.  Clear Fork 6, Marion Harding 1.

          There were two more runs in the sixth on an RBI double by pinch hitter Charles May and RBI groundout by Lind.

          The Colts had eight stolen bases, I think, but I may have lost count.

          Kennedy says they want to stay aggressive.  “We always say you're going to second base out-of-the-box when it's a clear hit unless we hold you up.  You’re going first to third if it's a base hit into the outfield unless we hold you up or unless you see it ahead of you that you need to slow down,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Our kids are buying into it, they're enjoying playing baseball at the plate, on the bases, in the field and pitching.   I mean right now it's a great time to be a Colt.”

          Clear Fork has won its last nine games and winning is always fun.

          Schlosser started the game on the hill and went five and two thirds giving up one hit, walking one and fanning nine.  He did have a couple of wild pitches.

          Kennedy says he was not his best, but he was still pretty good.  “It's kind of funny you look at the scoreboard.  Luke was good (Tuesday) man.  Luke has been phenomenal for us all year.  A couple of those pitches got away.  Against a very good Marion Harding, he gave up one run.  It’s one of those things, Luke’s best is ridiculous and his good is still really, really good,” said Kennedy.

          The Colts play league leading Shelby next week and they have Ontario, a team thy beat (3-0) earlier this month, on Friday.  “I mean anytime you're trying to see where you're at in the conference Ontario is always one that you going to kind of find out.  It's kind of the team you want to compete against and try to be lucky enough to get a win,” said Kennedy.

 

Published 4/17/24

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Highland Takes Down Galion

 

          Highland demolished Galion (12-5) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Tuesday night on the road.

          The Fighting Scots (9-2,3-2) will play at home against Galion (6-4,3-3) on Wednesday afternoon in league play.

          Being a game back in the conference standings, Highland coach Donnie Kline says it was a big win for them.  “That's a really good Galion team, so we're real happy to win.  I think both teams with a couple league losses knew they were up against it.  I thought both pitchers did a pretty good job.  There were a lot of balls put in play pretty hard, but at the end of the day I think our guys did a nice job, kind of late, trying to produce some offense and found a way to get the win,’ said Kline.

          Galion coach Kenny Fagan says they didn’t cash in on their chances.  “Highland is a tough team and we didn’t do enough to keep up with their firepower.  Had a few too many walks and left a few too many on to be successful.  We get another chance at them (Wednesday) with a new mindset,” he said.

          Highland had a lot of offensive stars in the game.  Jayden Collins had three hits and four runs scored, Kort Sears had a hit and three RBI, Zach Church had two hits and four RBI, Hayden Kline two hits, a double, and two RBI, and Rhett Russell had three runs scored.

          Kline felt they showed some patience at the plate.  “It’s kind of like a boxing match if you think about the analogy of just kind of body blow, body blow, body blow and I think we did that pretty well.  Then I think we had a two out, five run, fifth inning, all of those runs with two outs,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The guys will be patient and put balls in play.  We were aggressive on the bases.  Just kind of took the wind out of the sails of a really good offensive team that they have over there at Galion.”

          There seems to be at least five contenders in for the “MOAC” title Highland won last year and Kline knows it will be a battle.  “When you look at the scores around the league you can see that.  Even though the scores go different ways you can see that the scores are close.  Every time our game gets over the first thing we do is kind of turn on Swankonsports.com and find the final scores around the league because again it's always a coin flip,” he said.

 

Published 4/17/24

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Shelby Blanks River Valley

 

          Shelby is the leader in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after shutting out River Valley (5-0) on the road Wednesday evening.

          Nic Eyster toed the rubber for the Whippets at River Valley and coach Jon Amicone says he was outstanding.  “Nic Eyster did a great job for us.  He was able to throw three pitches anytime in the count.  He felt really comfortable with them and he got a lot of soft contact and was able to kind of kind of string some things together allow our defense to play behind him.  They did a great job dominating the routine play, things we talked about.  I think we got more back to playing Shelby baseball than we have the past couple days,” said Amicone.

          Amicone says Eyster didn’t try to do too much.  He says he is comfortable letting his defense make plays.  “We feel pretty good if our guy can throw three pitches for strikes.  We feel confident we can win that day.  If he's throwing two pitches for strikes, we feel good.  The name of the game for our pitchers is we want initiate soft contact.  We don't spend a lot of time talking about strikeouts.  It's fun to punch tickets.  We spend a lot more time being able to hit locations with different pitches and be able to initiate soft contact and allow our defense to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We want to play as a team, that's who we want to be offensively and defensively.  We really talk to our pitchers about the emphasis on initiating soft contact and ways to do that.”

          Amicone says the Whippets (6-2,2-1) are confident that they can win close games like Tuesday night.  He says they aren’t going to try and blow teams out all of the time.  “We're built to win these kind of games, that's kind of who we are.  If you get Shelby and kind of a high scoring game, we're not built for that.  These are the type of games that we want to play, that's what we emphasize in our program.  We're all about kind of extending leads.  If we have a lead, we try to extend it one run at a time.  Our guys understand the way we want to play the game and the value of pitching and defense is in the forefront of our program.  So, our guys are really comfortable playing these type of type games,” he said.

 

Published 4/17/24

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Ashland Gets Lex

 

          Luke Bryant beat Gage Powell Tuesday night as the Ashland Arrows edged the Lexington Minutemen (2-0) in a good, old fashion pitcher’s duel.

          Ashland coach Rick Gough says Bryant was dominate.  “It was Luke Bryant was on the hill (Tuesday) night.  He went seven innings with nine strikeouts and one walk.  He did an exceptional job,” he said.

          Gough says when Bryant goes to the mound it gives the Arrows a lot of confidence.  “We expect to win with Luke on the mound.  We just have to make sure we give him some support.  (Tuesday) night we gave him just enough.  We could have did a little better,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We left Lexington off the hook in the first couple innings.  We had the bases loaded twice and we're only able to scratch two runs, but it was enough to get the win.”

          Lexington coach Jeff Strickler says Powell gave them a great effort too.  “It was a well pitched game by both pitchers.  Gage Powell just had a rough second inning and then settled in very well,” he said.

          Gough says Powell kept their hitters guessing.  “I mean hats off to the Lexington pitcher.  He did a great job (Tuesday) night.  He kept us off balance with his off speed stuff.  We battled and we were able to scratch a couple just enough to get the win,” said Gough.

 

Published 4/17/24

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Madison Nips Mansfield Senior in Eight

 

          Madison beat arch rival Mansfield Senior (2-1) in eight innings on Tuesday evening in play in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Rams coach Nick Melton says it was a big win for a young team.  “Extra innings and getting a win that's a huge win.  Hopefully, it builds a little confidence moving forward.  We are really young and I'm almost getting tired of saying it because the season is half over at this point, but starting four, sometimes five sophomores and one or two freshmen every night it is a really inexperienced group,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “One senior in Ethan Glasgow, but then you've got Ethan and Cameron Kuhn, they are guys that have played 50, 60 varsity baseball games.  So, it's a little bit of both ends of the spectrum.  Youth shows from time to time and it's one of those growing pains that we have got to get through.  We were able to eek one out (Tuesday) night at Senior High.  It feels good a little bit, but then it's right back to the grindstone and we see Senior High (Wednesday) night at our place.”

          Tygers coach J.R. Davis says they are disappointed, but still pleased with the direction they are heading.  “Very proud of the way the kids came to play.  We played a great game, but they made one more play than us and that’s what decided the game.  I’m happy where this program is going forward.  This one hurst for sure, the great thing about this game is there is always tomorrow,” he said.

          Madison (1-7,1-5) found some eighth inning magic.  Melton says they got busy with two outs.  “We got to the 8th inning and our first two hitters got out pretty quick.  Our nine hitter Grady Spurlock was able to capitalize on Senior High’s lone error.  Hit a ground ball and was able to beat the throw to first base.  Right there with the nine hitter getting on base and Cameron Kuhn coming to bat.  Going in, Cameron is outstanding this year, he was sitting .640 going into the night.  I know it dropped (Tuesday) night, but you feel really good anytime he's coming to the plate, especially with runners on base.  We were able to steal second base with Grady Spurlock and on the pitch Cameron hits a single so we go first and third.  First and third two outs your two hole hitter up even with two outs you feel comfortable in that situation and we were able to get that run across,” said Melton.

          Spurlock scored as Kuhn got in a rundown.

          Melton says the Rams pitching was outstanding all night, including the bottom of the eighth.  “One run was all we needed there to hold it in the bottom of the eighth.  We brought Ethan Glasgow in the eighth after E.J. Fox threw a tremendous game on the mound.  E.J. gave up four hits through seven innings and threw 78 pitches, I believe.  So, E.J. was just a warrior.  We bring in Ethan and he’s able to go pretty quick there through the eighth inning,” he said.

 

Published 4/17/24

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McGurie Grand Slam Lifts Wynford

 

          Wynford got another much need win on Tuesday night they beat Carey (4-1) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on the road at Carey.

          Spencer Miller went the distance for the Royals and Grant McGuire, last year’s “N10” player of the year, hit a grand slam to provide the run support.

          Coach Tom Smith says those were the keys to their win.  “Well two things, Spencer Miller pitched a great game, complete game, gave up his only run in the seventh when he was getting a little tired and Grant McGuire hit a grand slam,” said Miller.

          Smith says his pitcher was a warrior on Tuesday night.  “He kept us in the game.  We didn't score until sixth inning and we kept telling the boys we have got to get some offense to help your pitcher out, he’s having a great game,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Finally, we loaded the bases for Grant in the top of the sixth and he hit a grand slam on a full count.”

          Mohawk is still unbeaten in the league and Wynford trails by three games.

          Smith says they believe McGurie is going to get them big hits.  “When he comes up, we know he's going to hit the ball hard 90 percent of the time and it just that worked out this time we have a lot of runners on for him,” he said.

 

Published 4/17/24

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Clear Fork Wins Again

 

          Clear Fork won it’s nine straight game on Monday as they went to Marion and downed the Harding Presidents (11-4) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

          Coach Gabe Kennedy says they had to grind out a come from behind win.  “Harding’s got a really talented team.  They hit the ball really well, they run the bases well.  They were up 4-1 on us early on in the game, but our kids they battled back.  They took it pitch by pitch, at bat by at bat, grinded it out and kind of shifted the momentum,” he said.

          Kennedy says they showed a lot of patience on Monday.  “There's a lot of sports that that happens.  Football you get down early and you think now we have to pass, but you don't have to do that.  You grind it out.  You go a little bit by little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “That's the thing, our kids just have to win their individual at bat, win your individual pitch and that's what our kids did.  We ended up getting a lot of guys on base and getting clutch hits.”

          Clear Fork (10-2,4-2) plays at home against Harding on Tuesday at American Legion Field in Bellville.

          Kennedy says right now they are doing a lot of good things throughout their batting order.  “I feel very comfortable with anybody on our roster you know anybody one through nine at the plate.  I really do.  Our kids are very unselfish kids.  They don't hesitate to but, they don't hesitate to put the ball on the ground the other way to move a runner over.  We're doing the little things right now and it's  adding up to a nice stretch,” said Kennedy.

 

Published 4/16/24

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Mt. Vernon Outscores Wooster

 

          Konner Daughriety slammed two home runs and got the win on the mound as Mt. Vernon beat Wooster (11-7) in a game between contenders in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Monday night.

          Coach Nate Hunt says handing the Generals (5-1,4-1) their first conference loss was pretty big for them.  “I have got a lot of respect for Wooster and the program.  I think our guys knew how big the game.  Their guys knew how big the game was.  There was great weather and it was a really good high school baseball game.  I think our guys came just ready to fight and even when things were starting to look like it wasn't going our way.  Again, we came back with the bats and just kind of going back to what we did.  I thought that part was fun to see,” said Hunt.

          Hunt says against Wooster you have to keep scoring runs.  “I told our coaches when we went in, I said four runs is not enough to beat Wooster.  They do all the all the little things right and I knew that wasn't going to be enough.  They started tallying up and then we came back and fought again and then it was 9-2 and I said hey it's still not enough.  This team fights and they have got some leaders.  So, I think again it was just a good high school baseball game that we were fortunate to be on the right side of,” he said.

          The two teams will play again on Tuesday.

          Hunt says this year the Jackets (8-3,5-2) have been working a lot on their swings and that paid off on Monday.  “The plus side to it is our guys seeing the benefits.  We put a lot of work into their swings.  Our goal was for every guy to take 1000 cuts in the preseason and I think we got pretty close to it.  Day after day just trying to work on that.  We talked about baseball's hard.  The fact that that the goal is to go .300 and everyone talks about that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “When you get good pitching like (A.J.) Litkowski and we're going to see Brady (Bowen) (Tuesday).  Hitting is very hard.  So, I think the fact that they got to kind of reap the benefits of not only hitting the baseball, but they hit the ball hard.  Konnor having two home runs (Monday) night just solidifies things.  I haven't coached a kid that works as hard as he does on his swing.  He's obsessed with it.  All of those guys have become workers of their craft of swinging it.  I'm really proud of them just kind of reaping the benefits of their swings and the hard work that they put into it.”

 

Published 4/16/24

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Ontario Edges Galion Again

 

          Ontario beat Galion for the second time in less than a week, and again in a close game, (4-2) on Monday night at Galion.

          Coach Mike Ellis is proud of the win.  “They are a very good team.  It was another battle (Monday) and we were fortunate that we came out on top,” he said.

          Ellis says a big key was the terrific effort turned in by starting pitcher Peyton Dzugan.  “We had an outstanding performance from Peyton Dzugan.  He went all seven innings and pitched his butt off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I talked to him before the game that his first couple outings he hasn't been himself and I said I need that kid that that pitched during the tournament run the rest of this year and he came ready to play and and pitched really well for us.”

          It took some time, but Ellis says they found a way to score enough runs to win the game.  “We kept getting people on base, but we just couldn't get the clutch hit or we couldn't execute a bunt.  We kept putting them on the bases, so I figured sooner or later we were going to get the few of those runners to home and fortunately we were able to,” said Ellis.

 

Published 4/16/24

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Flyers Down Mapleton

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is in first place in the Firelands Conference after beating Mapleton at home (7-3) on Monday evening.

          Coach Aaron Fries says it was a big win for them.  “They were 3-1 in conference play.  They have a lot of good returning lettermen.  We were facing their best pitcher.  I knew (Monday) night was going to be important to get us off to a good start for a very important week in our conference.  We all have four games to play, so beating Mapleton was a great start to the week,” he said.

          Fries says they were able to get some momentum by taking advantage of some opportunities.  “Especially when the play has been sporadic.  I thought we took advantage.  I don't want to say that we killed the ball or anything, but we took advantage of the opportunities that were given to us.  I think they were struggling to find strike zone a little early in the game, their pitchers, and then we were able to take advantage of that and kind of just keep adding a run here there as the game went on,” said Fries.

          Norwalk St. Paul (6-2,5-0) plays Mapleton (4-2,3-1) again on Tuesday and they play South Central, who lost its first conference game on Monday, (7-3) to Western Reserve, on Thursday and Friday.

          Fries says this is a big week for everyone in the Firelands.  “I mean you really get a sense of where you're at after this week just because it's just a big part of your schedule.  It tests all parts of your pitching staff,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “It tests your depth and you're going to have to use just about everybody this week at some point.  So, you really get a good idea where you're at as a team and kind of get ready for the stretch run in the conference.”

 

Published 4/16/24

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Bellevue Rallies Past Perkins

 

          Cody Lindey’s two run single in the top of the seventh inning gave Bellevue a (3-2) win over Sandusky Perkins Monday evening in a game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Dylan Barger went the distance to pick up the win for the Redmen (3-4,2-2) on Monday.

          Coach Andy Dennings says Barger finally got rewarded.  “We had our guy you know Dylan Barger had another really good outing for us (Monday) night against Perkins.  He's been throwing that way all year really, all of our guys have been extremely competitive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “It was nice for him to get a win.  He's kind of been a tough luck loser here on the games he's pitched, but he had a real nice outing and completed extremely well.”

          Barger gave up eight hits on the night.

          Dennings says they are starting to put some things together.  “We've been in plenty of close games so far.  It seems like every game we play is a tight ball game.  That's us still making strides offensively.  We have cleaned some things up defensively.  We've been throwing it really well, but when you don't produce a bunch of runs, you're going to play in games like that,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue is scheduled to play Sandusky in another division game on Wednesday.

          Dennings says they have kind of been waiting on the kind of big hit that Lindsey had Monday all year.  “We've been we've been waiting for a big hit.  We got a big hit in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.  We had the bases loaded three times in that game and didn't plate anything earlier in the game.  We finally got that big hit, which we've been waiting on, and turned into a really good comeback win for us,” said Dennings.

 

Published 4/16/24

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Tygers Get a Win

 

          Mansfield Senior picked up its second win of the season in beating Bucyrus (12-2) in a non-conference game at Arlin Field on Monday evening.

          Coach J.R. Davis says it felt good.  “It was a much needed win for our program for sure,” he said.

          Davis says it was nice to get on the field against someone they can compete with.  “I just think the biggest thing (Monday) night was just kind of letting go of who we're playing because our conference is so tough.  When we play teams like Wooster, Mt. Vernon and New Philly.  We played Mt. Vernon and New Philly both last week.  So, just getting beat up like that that's kind of the toughest part about it trying to get the kids motivated.  So, having a game like this just kind of rejuvenates them and be able to be ready for the upcoming games that we have on our schedule,” said Davis,

          Mansfield Senior (2-6,0-5) is scheduled to play arch Madison the next two days in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Davis says they look forward to the opportunity.  “It's one of those morale boosters that we need just because we haven't won a conference game in the last however many years, especially since I've been here,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I know the kids feel more confident when we play against Madison just because we know in the past we've lost like 2-0, we lost by one run just here and there to Madison compared to all of our other “OCC” games that we play.  So, it's just one of those things just morale and just be able to be confident going into it and that's why (Monday) night was so special for us.”

 

Published 4/16/24

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Lexington Boys Win Mehock Relays

 

          The Mansfield Mehock Relays have had a long list team champions from seemingly a galaxy far, far away from Cleveland East Tech to Middletown to East Kentwood, Michigan, but this year the boys title stayed right here in Richland County with the Lexington Minutemen taking home the trophy.

          Ashland, a fellow Ohio Cardinal Conference member was second and two time defending champion East Kentwood took third this time.

          Lexington won the last two events of the meet in the 3,200 mile run and the 4x800 relay.

          They were tailing by 11½ points going into those events, but the Minutemen saved their best for last.  “A lot of our local guys did well too.  Ashland was right there the whole day.  Coach (Ryan) Stackhouse always brings everybody ready to play.  Going against the other guys in the “MOAC” that I'm used to seeing.  It was this a great day of competition.  We just had a good day, everyone contributed,” said Moore.

          Lexington’s Chance Basilone dusted the field in the two mile, winning by more than 15 seconds, in 9:40.38.  Basilone also plays baseball for the Minutemen.  “Recovery is a big part of it.  I'll go from practice to a game and then after that I'll take an ice bath.  I do a lot of cuffing because of my calves, just a lot of stretching and drinking a lot of water,” said Basilone.

          Latrell Hughes led a one, two Lexington finish in the 400 meters. That was coming off a great performance last week in Lexington’s home relays.  “It was definitely a shot of confidence.  I know I can run faster.  A lot of my teammates know they can run faster,” he said.

          Hughes was timed in 49.50, teammate Will Perkins was second in 50.58.

          The key to the Lexington victory though was their wins in both the 1,600 meter (3:27.11) and 3,200 meter (8:18.64) relays.

          Shelby’s Marshall Moore won the boys’ 800 meter run in 2:01.13.

          In field events, Clear Fork freshman Davis Hoeflich, a national champion in junior high, easily won in his first opportunity at the Mehock Relays, clearing 6’5”.  He says he hopes to win three more titles.

          Two Crestview kids won field events with Liam Kuhn taking the pole vault in 13’6” and Wade Bolin setting a personal best in the discus for the second week in a row at 172’.

          “It felt great, doing indoors that really helped me get back in, doing a lot of rehab trying to get back as quick as possible, good coaching and everything just fell into place,” said Bolin.  He had a knee ligament injury last season and missed most of the season.

          Galion’s Jacob Chambers finished in the top three three times on Saturday, winning the long jump in 21’ 4½”, plus finishing third in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes.  “Overall, I would say it was a decent day, good prelim times.  Didn’t finish in the finals the way I wanted,” said Chambers.

          East Kentwood won the girls’ team title, but Colonel Crawford, out of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, finished a strong second.

          The Lady Eagles were led by Cecila Chase, who won the girls’ metric mile in 5:28.05.   “I wish I was going a little faster right now, but I feel like we haven't had very good weather and like we haven't ran consistently because meets have been getting cancelled left and right.  So, overall I wish I was a little faster, but I'm pretty happy with where I am,” said Chase.

          Nevaeh Lewis of Madison won the 100 meter dash in 12.15.  She was second in the 200.

          Sandusky’s Taliyah Farris topped the field in the 300 hurdles in 49.76 and Lydia Price of Marion Harding won the 3,200 meters in 11:42.76.

          In field events, Miranda Stone of Galion was the only local athlete two win two events, the shot put (39’4½”) and the discus (135’2”).

          Gabby Roston of Colonel Crawford claimed the pole vault (9’) and Madison Henkel of Shelby the long jump (18’9½).

 

Published 4/13/24

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Mehock Relays Renew Saturday

 

          The 91st annual Mansfield Mehock Relays will take place on Saturday at Malabar School.

          It continues to be the foremost track and field event in North Central Ohio.

          Saturday’s weather forecast calls for 60, but windy.

          Meet Director Shannon Sprang says she is keeping her fingers crossed.  “We have been getting everything lined up where it should be.  I do feel good about it actually.  I think each year you get a little more comfortable, but you still always have that panic of crazy things that can happen, so you just have got to roll with it,” he said.

          Ashland, Lexington, Mansfield Senior and Madison of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, defending Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champ Shelby, along with “MOAC” schools Clear Fork, Galion and Ontario.  Crestview, the Firelands Conference champ, will be in the field too.

          Sprang says this is a unique event and she likes it that way.  “What I like about this meet is having the open divisions.  We've got schools in our area that have great athletes, but they never get to run against maybe a team that's a little bigger or a little better.  So, it really opens up that opportunity that kids can come out and just see what they're made of and how good they are,” she told Swankonsports.com, “That's exciting to me.  I've had some schools reach out this year that maybe have a core group of throwers or a core group of sprinters or whatever that they're like we want to bring this group and I'm like sure bring them.”

          Last year, this was a showcase for Clear Fork sprinter Joe Stupka, who won the 100 and the 200 against tough competition.

          There will also be three schools from Michigan, including defending Mehock champ East Kenwood.  Plus, some schools from the Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo areas.  There should be about 25 in all.

          The weather has been rather terrible overall this spring and Sprang says this could be a breakout event for some kids.  “The other thing that people don't understand about track and field, with the weather being what it has been this spring, track and field, baseball, and softball all opened up on the weekend of March 23.  So, if you think about the last two, three weeks the weather has not been desirable, so the athletes really haven't had an opportunity to get many events or meets even in yet.  This is an early meet and they may came come in not looking so good, but maybe it's been weather based because they haven't had the opportunity to kind of show what they can do.”

 

Published 4/12/24

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Clear Fork Sweeps Pleasant

 

          Clear Fork put together its third straight Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference win on Wednesday evening as they beat Marion Pleasant (8-4) at Legion Field in Bellville.

          Coach Gabe Kennedy says they focused very well on what they need to do as a team.  “I think the kids approach every single day is what matters for us.  The kids want to play baseball, they're aggressive at the plate, they've been really aggressive on the base paths as well.  It's one of those things where when you're aggressive on the bases you're going to get out sometimes too, but you're putting pressure on the other team and that's what we try to do,” he said.

          Clear Fork (8-2,3-2) also beat Pleasant (9-0) on Tuesday and Kennedy says they did a good job of resetting.  “I think obviously our conference is loaded, it's absolutely loaded, there's no weeks off, there's no days off, we have got to be ready to play every single game.  Whoever we play against is going to bring their best.  We told them (Tuesday) we beat them 9-0 on the road, we said, hey, today is over with tomorrow's a new day.  We have got to go 1-0 every day that we play the game.  That's what we try to do and we try to just keep getting better and feed off that,” Kennedy.

          It looks like the “MOAC” is going to very good and very balanced again this year.

          Kennedy says they need to continue to play good, fundamental baseball.  “We started off the conference and went 0-2.  We didn't play very good baseball and Galion’s really good.  They beat us, they swept us two games in a row back-to-back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “You can't play mistake filled baseball games in this conference and expect to have a chance to compete.  That's one of the things where you have got to take advantage of another team making a mistake and they're going to try to take advantage of our mistakes too.  We have got to be ready to go every night.”

 

Published 4/11/24

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Tilse No Hits Bellevue

 

          Isaiah Tilse fired a no hitter with 16 strikeouts and Tiffin Columbian edged Bellevue (2-1) Wednesday in a game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          The Tornadoes lead the division standings.

          Tilse had a very similar effort last Friday in beating Sandusky Perkins.

          Coach Nick Weber says he was brilliant.  “Isaiah was on the mound for us again (Wednesday).  He went to distance on a no hitter with 16 strikeouts.  Just kind of doing what he's been doing lately and just pounding the zone and keep getting outs and keep putting us in positions to win,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “When our offense is not 100% quite there yet to put up a bunch of runs.  As a coach it's give you confidence when one or two runs and you know that hey that could be enough for us to get a victory.”

          Weber says anytime Tilse is on the mound, the whole team feels very confident.  “Then I think that our kids know that as well.  If they could scrap out a couple of runs here to give him just enough breathing room so he doesn't feel like he has to be perfect every pitch and relaxes him and it relaxes us as a whole.  So, our kids believe too behind him,” he said.

          Tilse has struck out 50 in just 20 and two thirds innings this year.  He has not allowed an earned run this spring.

          Taieb Al-Zakawani doubled and scored on a squeezed bunt in the fourth for the Tornadoes (6-3,3-0).  In the fifth, Bryce Roggow walked, stole second and scored on a hit by Braylen Auble.

          Weber says They didn’t hit a lot, but they made some clutch plays.  “I mean we got our first one on a leadoff double, a sac bunt to move him to third and we squeezed him home.  To get second one, we got a leadoff double and then thrown out at third, with a really good catcher behind the plate in Dennings.  With two outs with have a senior in Bryce Roggow give us an eight pitch walk, he finds a way to steal second and then we have another senior who gives us an eight pitch at bat hits a single to left field to give us a run, which is obviously all we needed,” said Weber.

 
     
 

South Central Gets Crestview Again

 

          South Central shutout Crestview (2-0) behind Eric Sanders in Firelands Conference play on Wednesday evening.

          They share first place in the league with Norwalk St. Paul, a (13-4) winner over Western Reserve on Wednesday.

          Coach Nick Kirk says Sanders was great and so was their defense.  “Eric Sanders, I’ve been around him for four years for baseball for high school and I would have to say that that's his best game that he's pitched in those four years.  The defense behind him at third became a hoover (Wednesday) for us and made a lot of plays at third and then the outfield stepped up as well.  All around it was a pretty good performance by us,” he said.

          South Central (4-1,2-0) scored both of their runs in the first inning off Crestview starter Tyson Ringler.

          Kirk says they made some fundamental plays.  “Our bats actually weren't that great (Wednesday).  The first inning, that's where we scored two runs.  We led off the game and got our first two guys on, stole third base and then Eric helped himself out with a ground ball to the right side and was able to score a run.  Alex Hamons hit a sac fly out to the outfield.  Two runs was the difference.  So, after that both sides were just going back forth with great pitching.  Hats off to Crestview, I believe it was Tyson Ringler.  He pitched really phenomenal.  When you look at the box score, we had 10 strikeouts as a team.  To be able to pull off a win says a lot about our pitching and our defense,” said Sanders.

          South Central also beat Crestview (8-5) on Tuesday.  The Cougars are the defending Firelands Conference champs and preseason favorite.

          Kirk says they are playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.  “A lot of people don't expect us to be a good team or expect us to be at the top, but with a group of kids that we have.  We have a sophomore class that is monstrous.  We have a lot of talent in there and then we have upperclassmen that have the experience, that have the talent, that have been around our program for three to four years and know the expectations as they won a conference championship two years ago,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They know the expectations, but the one thing that we've been preaching is just being positive.  A lot of kids come off the side when they strike out or have an error or anything like.  We preach picking each other up.  At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you did individually as long as there's a win at the end of it.  That's what we've been preaching.  Even (Wednesday), the kids got down and I told them it doesn't matter, move on to the next at bat.  What matters is that scoreboard is saying it’s 2-0 right now.  So, the more positive you are, the better outcomes are.”

 

Published 4/11/24

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Wynford Edges Upper

 

          Wynford got a win they had to have Wednesday as they beat defending “N10” champion Upper Sandusky (5-3) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game.

          The win keeps them three games behind conference leader Mohawk, who hammered Bucyrus (12-1) on Wednesday.

          Coach Tom Smith says the win was key for them.  “They are the tops in the league this year and so it's nice to get a split with them and give us a chance,” he said.

          Upper won (5-4) on Tuesday.

          Smith says they got a big pick me up from Drew Johnson on Wednesday against Upper.  “We got some real good pitching from Drew Johnson.  He came in and the second inning.  Our starter struggled a little bit and he shut them out the rest of the way and then the offense finally generated some runs,” said Smith.

          Johnson also had two RBI.  Grant McGuire had a big two run double that tied the game.

          Smith says they finally got some clutch hitting.  “That's what we've been lacking here recently, but (Wednesday) we had a two run double to tie the game and then got a couple more from the bottom of our lineup driving in some guys,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “That's when you normally win when the bottom of line up helps out.”

 

Published 4/11/24

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Mt. Vernon Smokes Tygers

 

          Mt. Vernon blanked Mansfield Senior (9-0) on Wednesday evening in action in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          They had beaten the Tygers (21-4) on Tuesday.

          Coach Nate Hunt says they had good focus on Wednesday.  “That's one of the key components for this game.  J.R. (Davis) over at Senior, we talked a lot before both games and he's done a really good job.  He’s got a group of kids that are continuing to get better.  He does a great job with those kids and he should be proud of proud of where he's got that program.  For our guys, it’s a mental game (Wednesday), especially with the rain, but I think it was good for what we were trying to do,” he said.

          Wooster, the defending champion in the “OCC” remains unbeaten in league play.  Mt. Vernon lost twice last week to Ashland.

          Hunt says it was important that they bounce back this week.  “It’s the key every year.  The goal really is to just concentrate on what you can control and that’s one game at a time.  You can't look two games ahead.  Can't look three games ahead.  Like I said last week, Ashland’s a good baseball team and Wooster’s good and Lex, I mean everybody's good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I think to be able to just focus on the next game, whether it's the non conference, whether it's you know Wooster next week, whatever it is.  I think if you put too much hype on just something that that doesn't seem reachable right now it can get overwhelming as a high school kid.”

          Hunt says you have to take these games one at a time.  “Just kind of attacking it as the cliche thing of being 0-0 every game.  Well, there's merit to that because you can go 4-4 one day and the next day, you're striking out four times in a row.  You watch Major League Baseball and it's the same thing.  These guys are hot, these guys are cold.  The game of baseball's hard, so you get the good ones when you can and learn from the losses when you can as well,” said Hunt.

 

Published 4/11/24

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Fredericktown Gets Past Danville

 

          Fredericktown, the defending champion, kept itself in the race early in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference, with an (8-7) win at Danville on Wednesday.

          They trail East Knox by a game in a competitive “KMAC”.  Danville, Centerburg and Northmor also have one loss.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says they beat the Blue Devils and the darkness on Wednesday.  “(Wednesday) night found a way.  We've been in what seems like a lot of close games so far this year, so it's good to come out on the right side,” he said.

          Hathaway says the Freddies were able to get some clutch hits.  “We got some timely hits and we made plays defensively when we needed them.  I thought our guys did pretty well on the mound just trying to limit mistakes, especially early on here when we haven't really played a whole lot of games.  So, there is just a lot of learning that we are continuing to do,” said Hathaway.

          This is a different year for Fredericktown.  Hathaway says they may not have the same lineup each night.  “We have got different guys competing for spots and plugging different positions.  There's a lot of competition, which is really good with our team this year, it's kind of something that we that we maybe haven't had in the past,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Guys are having to make sure they show up and they're ready to compete that day and ready to compete in practice and it's just a little bit different environment for us this year.”

 

Published 4/11/24

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Ontario Gets Big Win over Galion

 

          Ontario kept itself in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference race with a (4-3) win eight innings over Galion on Tuesday evening in league play.

          They trail Marion Harding and Shelby by two games.

          Shelby beat defending champion Highland (3-2) on Tuesday.  Harding beat River Valley (8-4) and Clear Fork shut out Marion Pleasant (9-0) in other league games.

          Carter Weaver won the game on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

          Coach Mike Ellis says it was a seesaw kind of game Tuesday night.  “(Tuesday) night was our night.  It was a back and forth nail biter.  It was 1-1 for the longest time and then we went up 2-1 and then they tied it.  Then they went up ahead 3-2 and then we tied it and it went into extra innings.  So, it was a really good high school game,” he said.

          Braxton Prosser gave Galion a (3-2) lead in to top of the seventh, but Jake Champman tied the game (3-3) with an RBI hit in the seventh for the Warriors.

          Ellis says the Warriors (4-4,3-2) executed when they had two had to.  “In a game like that the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win.  There were times that we didn’t execute next.  Get bunts down and stuff, but when the game was on the line, we did have kids step up and come through,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I was talking to the team after the game just fundamentals when you don't do them can hurt you in a game like this and you'll lose those games.  Fortunately, we were able to win it.”

          Ellis says the league looks like it’s going to be very competitive and to win league games like this is going to be key.  “We also talked about that.  This league is really, really tough and if you've been paying attention to scores.  I mean the league is wide open.  So, every game that we play in as far as the league, we have got to try to scratch out a “W” and whatever it takes we're going to have to do that,” said Ellis.

 

Published 4/10/24

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Crestview Gets Past South Central

 

          Crestview downed South Central (3-1) in a Firelands Conference softball game on Tuesday evening.

          They share the conference lead at (2-0) with Mapleton here early in the season.

          In other “FC” results on Tuesday, Mapleton outscored New London (15-9), Monroeville beat Plymouth (10-0) and Western Reserve edged Norwalk St. Paul (5-1).

          Crestview coach Scott Durbin says they didn’t hit the ball very well against South Central, but they found other ways to win.  “South Central I mean it’s just their second loss on season and they're scrappy club with a good pitcher.  I didn't feel like we came out hitting the ball like we had been, but it was kind of nice to see us as manufactured three runs and kind win it the hard way,” said Durbin.

          Durbin says they got very good pitching and solid defense on Tuesday.  “I think we have one error on the night.  Chesnie Patton was outstanding in the circle getting a complete game win, striking out 10.  Sophie Durbin and Maddie Grant turned a double play in a huge part of the game to turn to 4-6-3 double play, which really got momentum going for us and got the girls fired up,” he said.

          On Saturday, Crestview (6-2,2-0) played a couple of really good teams.  They beat Margaretta (3-1) and lost (14-0) and (11-5) to Lexington.

          Durbin says those games are going to make them better and that proved to be the case on Tuesday.  “It directly relates to those games.  We've played some good teams and Lexington, I mean what can you say about them, they're just they're rolling right now.  The Margaretta win was huge for us.  We scored late in that game.  Sophie hit a home run and then we tagged on insurance run on Jillian Weaver’s sac fly to win that one,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday might, “Then we turn around got our teeth kicked in by Lex.  I think overall it was a really a good day for us as far as learning and coming together and getting better as a team and then it showed (Tuesday) night.”

 

Published 4/10/24

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Shelby Wins Opener

 

          Shelby played its first baseball game Thursday and they won it, beating Tiffin Columbian (11-4) in a non-conference game played at Shelby.

          Coach Jon Amicone says it was a very good way to start the season.  “It was nice for us to get out there.  Really appreciate the community kind of pitching together and getting our field ready to go.  It's nice getting off after a long wait for basketball kids to get in shape.  This was our first game and to be able to play as well as we did against caliper team like Tiffin I'm really pleased with our guys,” he said.

          It was a cold windy day, but Amicone says they did an excellent job of getting clutch hits on Thursday.  “I thought top to bottom our lineup did a really good job executing all of our offense that we wanted to run.  We got some really good base hits and six RBI's with two outs and that's something we really stress, getting the two out RBI.  Those could be game changing plays and our guys did nice job really grinding out every pitch that they could and the score kind of looks like that,” said Amicone.

          The weather has been hard of the schedule of every team in North Central Ohio, but a component in Shelby’s late start was the success of their basketball team.

          Amicone says they are alright with that.  “The reason was justified.  We loved watching our basketball kids do what they did.  That was a special season.  We had seven coming to us from that team,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “They needed to get acclimated.  They did a nice job.  A few of them came back the next Monday and some came back later that week, but they did a good job of kind of learning on the run to get themselves in baseball shape.”

 

Published 4/05/24

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Bellevue Cleans up

 

          Cody Lindsey threw a shutout and the Bellevue Redmen blanked Norwalk (11-0) Thursday evening in a game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Coach Andy Dennings says it’s a good way to get the league started.  “Norwalk's always got a very nice program, so for us to be able to get that kind of win to start league play after a slow start for us we're pretty happy,” he said.

          Dennings says Lindsey had to wrestle with his command a little bit, but he had good stuff.  "Cody Lindsey threw all five for us (Thursday) night.  He had good stuff, he just had a little problem with command in the middle innings there, but he battled through some of the issues there and ended up finishing really strong in the fifth.  So, he had a really nice outing.  He hadn’t pitched in a while either with the way this weather's been,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue (1-2,1-0) lost its first two games to Willard and Eastwood, but Dennings says Thursday their defense was much improved.  “We’ve had good quality at bats for the most part.  Only struck out twice (Thursday).  We put a lot of balls in play and actually took advantage.  We've had some chances to score in the first two games on the offensive side.  We just finally cashed in.  Our quality at bats led to getting guys on base and getting guys in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Pitching has really been pretty good, but be honest we had 12 infield errors in the first two games.  We had one (Thursday), so when you can minimize that stuff and not walk kids, you're going to be alright.”

 

Published 4/05/24

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Ashland Trims Mt. Vernon

 

          Ashland edged Mt. Vernon (7-6) in a game Wednesday evening between contenders in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Arrows coach Rich Gough says it was a big win for them.  “It was a huge win for us.  We've only played one game coming into (Wednesday) and it's just tough to get a feel for your club.  Last week we went over to Wooster and they no hit us in a good ball game 3-0.  So, (Wednesday) night was a great pick me up.  We had seven hits on the night and scored seven runs and that was huge,” said Gough.

          Gough says they made some plays with their legs and that was important for the Arrows.  “I think we had four stolen bases, we had a sac bunt, we executed a first and third situation, so we did some good things on the bases and it led to some runs,” he said.

          Ashland (1-1,1-1) will be at Mt. Vernon (3-2,2-1) on Thursday for the rematch.

          Jackets coach Nate Hunt says Ashland played a solid game, but they will be ready on Thursday.  “(Wednesday) night was a great high school baseball game, but Ashland came to play and played sound, fundamental baseball.  They will always have a chance to win with Luke (Bryant) on the mound.  He has been doing that for three years and is a competitor.  I know what kind of team we have this year and we have a chance to be special, but we have to learn from this and not let it define who we are and find a way to get better every single day.  The Jackets will bounce back,” said Hunt.

          High school sports is about confidence and Gough says the win on Wednesday was a boost to them.  “You could tell the big difference between (Wednesday) night versus the game against Wooster,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We knew coming in Mt. Vernon was one of the contenders in in the league.  The league is going to be tough top to bottom, but to get the first game of the two game series is just outstanding.  It’s a good start.”

 

Published 4/04/24

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Lexington Blanks Madison

 

          Colton Murfield went the distance as Lexington shutout Madison (5-0) on Wednesday evening in Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball action.

          Lexington coach Jeff Strickler says Murfield was dominate and was efficient too.  “Colton Murfield was right on (Wednesday) night.  He only gave up four hits, threw 79 pitches I believe for the whole game.  Had 12 strikeouts and only one walk.  When you limit the number of walks you have a chance to win ball games,” said Strickler.

          The Minutemen (1-4,1-2) have some good speed and Strickler says executing the small game was important for them.  “The boys did a nice job executing the baserunning plays that we had on and did a nice job of bunting.  Just small ball was a big part of what we did (Wednesday), they executed very well,” he said.

          Lexington will play Madison (1-4,0-3) again on Thursday.

          Rams coach Nick Melton says they are inexperienced and at times they looked like it on Wednesday.  “We showed our youth (Wednesday) night in several key moments.  Give credit to Lexington as they took advantage of it.  Make no mistake, Colton Murfield pitched a really nice game for them.  We talked after the game that anytime we get a chance to play we have to be ready to go to battle.  No other team is going to care how many freshmen and sophomores we have in the lineup.  The good thing about baseball is we get a chance to do it again (Thursday) with a clean slate.  We look forward to that chapter and challenge,” said Melton.

          With all of their players back from last season, Lexington expects to have a solid season and Strickler says they needed that win on Wednesday.  “It was important that we won (Wednesday).  We lost all four games we played last week.  We played two really good teams last week and took our lumps from them,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “So, it's important that we went out and played well and we did.”

 

Published 4/04/24

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Crestview Hammers Western

 

          Crestview, the defending Firelands Conference champion, began that defense on Wednesday night, by crushing Western Reserve (17-2) in a conference game.

          Coach Don Keener says they got off on the right foot.  “You definitely want to get out on top no matter what.  So, I thought the guys came ready to play (Wednesday).  We kind of took a step back the other day and we weren't really ready to go, but the guys came ready to play (Wednesday) and they did a nice job of taking care of business,” said Keener.

          Last week, Willard, of the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, smoked Crestview (14-1) in a non-league game.

          Keener says their approach at the plate was much better on Wednesday.  “The guys put the ball in play well.  We made a lot of contact.  I mean we had a lot better approach at the plate.  We weren't swinging at their pitches, we were swinging at our pitches, which is a big difference from the last time we played,” he said.

          Crestview (2-1,1-0) is scheduled to play at Western on Friday.

          The Cougars are the preseason choice to repeat as Firelands Conference champion and Keener says they have to have focus every night.  “I mean I think the kids know that, I hope they know that and understand that.  I mean I think everybody's going to want to play their best,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We definitely still have to make sure we play our best no matter who we're going against.  So, I think that's the approach you have to take.  Worry about yourselves.  We have got to worry about us and take care of what we need to do and stay focused.”

 

Published 4/04/24

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Wynford Gets Past Buckeye

 

          Wynford outlasted Buckeye Central (4-3) on wind day in suburban Bucyrus in Northern 10 Athletic Conference baseball on Wednesday evening.

          Spencer Miller went all seven for Wynford allowing six hits, but walking none and striking out six.

          Isaac Hiler also got the complete game for the Bucks.  He gave up two hits, but issued six free passes and struck out four.

          Wynford made three errors while the Bucks made four.

          Royals coach Tom Miller says his pitcher was efficient on a difficult day.  “It was a good pitcher’s duel (Wednesday) night.  It was cold and windy, so it was rough on guys.  Spencer Miller I think threw 75 pitches in seven innings, so he was pretty efficient,” he said.

          Miller says they have been getting runners in scoring position, but have not been getting the bit hit.  “Offensively, we seem to get guys on base, but we're having trouble getting those clutch hits to drive them in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Buckeye Central played really good.  They made some really nice plays (Wednesday) night, a couple double plays to keep us from pushing them runs across.”

          It was Wynford’s (2-3,1-2) first “N10” win of the season.  Buckeye Central (3-1,2-1) trails conference co-leaders Mohawk and Seneca East by a game.

          Buckeye coach Chad Jensen says his kids did a lot of good things, just not enough.  “I’m proud of our kids.  We have Wynford everything that we had.  Just a couple of things here or there that made the difference.  We pitched well, hit well, it just wasn’t quite enough.  We believed we could win and just came up short.  We will learn from it,” said Jensen.

 

Published 4/04/24

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Mohawk Beats Carey; Stays in First

 

          Mohawk continues to share first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference after a (6-3) win over Carey at home on Wednesday evening.

          They are tied for first with Seneca East, who beat Bucyrus (7-0) on Wednesday.

          First year coach Zach Hawkins is pleased.  “I mean anytime you can start the “N10” season off beating Colonel Crawford twice and beating Carey is a good thing, especially seeing Carey knock off Upper Sandusky last week, they're a fairly solid team.  So, getting that win and continuing our successful start of the season is always a great thing for sure,” he said.

          Hawkins says early they left a lot of runners on base, but later in the game they came up with some big hits.  “The first three innings we stranded eight guys.  So, there were multiple times we had bases loaded, two guys on, guys in scoring position, less than two outs and we just couldn't get the big hit.  I continued to tell our guys if we continue to get guys on base, we'll start getting them to fall,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “To be honest the hits we got late in the game, a couple of them were bloopers that got us the lead and secured the win.  So, that's just baseball, that's part of it.  You get guys on base and good things will happen.  It didn't happen early on, but later on in the game it ended up working out for us.”

          Mohawk (4-0,3-0) also got a strong pitching performance from freshman Kaleb Bish.  Hawkins says he gave them a chance to win.  “With that being said Kaleb Bish. We were down 3-0 early on.  I think they scored three in the second inning.  He kept it at that three number all the way through six innings and gave us a chance to continue to chip away at it and did an amazing job.  So, him keeping us in the game and giving us that confidence that it's still within reach gave us some confidence and he did a great job on the mound as well,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 4/04/24

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Clear Fork Shuts Out Ontario

 

          Behind the pitching of Luke Schlosser and Garrett Holtz, Cleark Fork picked up its first Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference win of the season in downing Ontario (3-0) at American Legion Field in Bellville on Monday evening.

          Coach Gabe Kennedy says their pitching was outstanding.  “Anytime Luke Schlosser is on the mound we feel pretty confident.  If we can give some great defense like we had (Monday) night, we like our chances.  It was one of the things where we could tell he was in the zone early and his pitch count was pretty good late.  He wanted the seventh inning, but we were like no, Garrett Holz is ready to go and he came in and got the save for us,” said Kennedy.

          Schlosser was masterful over the first six.

          Kennedy says they weren’t exactly pounding the ball with the bats, but they found a way to score.  “We are all about manufacturing runs and it starts with great base running, something we harp on, something we try to do that in practice, put a major emphasis on that because in high school baseball that that can win or lose baseball games,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “(Monday) night, we did a good job.  We've had a little trouble lately leaving guys on base, but we were able to move them over and get some guys in to get to get the win.”

          Clear Fork (3-2,1-2) is supposed to play at Ontario (1-3,1-2) on Tuesday, but probably won’t be due to the weather.

          Kennedy says after two losses to Galion last week, getting a win against the Warriors, the defending division II state runner-up, was crucial for the Colts.  “Ontario has got some really good players over there.  Anytime you can compete with Ontario and be lucky enough to get a win against them.  You kind of measure yourself against those types of teams Ontario, Shelby, in Richland County.  So, it was a big thing for our kids, especially with the weather outlook for the rest of the week, get that game in Monday and see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 4/02/24

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Northmor Edges Mt. Gilead

 

          Garrett Harvey’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Northmor a (2-1) win over Mt. Gilead in a game in the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference on Monday evening/

          Coach Bruck Workman says they had some kids make some key plays in the ninth to get the win.  “Bowdre led off, he’s our nine hole hitter, he worked the count full, and fought off a couple tough pitches and worked a walk.  That rolled us up to the top and (Grant) Bentley had a base hit to right field that knocked (Bowdre) over to third.  Then (Bentley) steals second, so we're set and second and third with nobody out.  We have a strike out and then they intentionally walked Drew Hammond to load the bases,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “That brought up our clean up hitter Garrett Harvey.  We tried to squeeze in the winning run and we fouled that off.  So, he's down 0-2 and he's up there battling and eventually hits a nice line drive to right center knocking in the winning run.”

          Northmor is one of the favorites to take the title in the “KMAC” this year, but Workman says it will be a challenge because of teams like Mt. Gilead.  “Like I’ve said, this league is tough.  I mean the Baker kid that pitched for Mt. Gilead (Monday) night, I think he's pretty darn good.  He's only a sophomore, but he throws pretty well and he's going to be a tough one to beat on any given night.  The Fricke kid they have got is also a pretty darn good pitcher.  So, they're going to give people fits.  I think once they get going it’s going to be tough and any way you can get a win in the league, we'll take it,” said Workman.

          The Golden Knights (3-0,1-0) are scheduled to play at Mt. Gilead on Wednesday.

          The weather doesn’t look very promising with severe thunderstorms on Tuesday and cold weather later in the week.

          Workman says they had to take advantage of their opportunity on Monday.  “We talked about it before the game, this may be the only game we play this week with the way the weather is.  We need to take care of business because you don't want to lose that opener in the league and then have to wait another week before you play again and try to get that bad taste out of your mouth.  It's kind of like football and playing every Friday night.  You don't usually have to do that in baseball,” said Workman.

 

Published 4/02/24

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Tiffin Gets Huron in Extra Innings

 

          Tiffin Columbian outlasted Huron (4-2) in a non-conference game, or “SBC” crossover, played at Sports Force Park in Sandusky on a cloudy Monday evening.

          Huron led (2-0), but the Tornadoes scored twice in the top of the sixth, the trying run scoring on a sac fly by Johnny Bremyer.

          Then in the eighth, Columbian took the lead when Braylon Auble bunted, the Tigers misplayed the ball, and Bryce Roggow scored from first.  Auble then scored on a wild pitch.

          Coach Nick Weber says they had to be relentless.  “It was one of those days that the ball wasn't carrying well at all.  I thought we had some balls that that we're going to find a gap and they hung up, but on a cold day out there at the lake coming off the water like that we just we had to keep finding ways.  The first three innings we had guys in scoring position and just couldn't break through.  We kind of keep telling the kids they were relentless and keep fighting through and then in the sixth inning we were able to get through,” said Weber.

          Columbian (3-1) has played some pretty good baseball over the first week of the season.  Weber is pleased.  “I’m pretty happy with where we are right now.  We went to Findlay and beat a very tough Findlay team.  Then the very next night we were over at Fremont and beat a very good Fremont team,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We're very happy with where we are.  The bats are still a little bit sleeping, but we’re starting to wake up a little bit.  We're happy to get off of this start,” he said.

          The Tornadoes are supposed to play Wednesday at Sandusky in their opener in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division.

          Weber believes they can be in the division race.  “I think we will be able to compete.  The Lake Division is extremely tough no matter where you are and who you're playing.  It’s always been tough and it's going to continue to be tough.  Trying to beat each team twice is very hard to do.  There are a lot of good coaches and a lot of good baseball players in the Lake Division.  So, it's challenging no matter what, but I think we keep doing what we’re doing take care of what we do I think we have a good shot,” he said.

 

Published 4/02/24

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Wooster No Hits Ashland

 

          Wooster pitchers Brady Bowen and A.J. Likowski tossed a combined no hitter on Thursday as the Generals blanked Ashland (3-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          It was the Generals season opener as they have been dealing with some weather issues.

          Coach Steve Young says they elected to throw their two best pitchers on Thursday.  “We waited a long time to get out there and play, so that was that was one way to kind of make a statement.  Our guys were pretty fired up all week to play.  We tried to prep our own field and tried to arrange alternate games with anybody we could.  Our guys came out and Brady Bowen and A.J. Likowski did a heck of a job.  It was a situation where normally they obviously wouldn't both throw on the same day, those are our two league starters.  With us only having one league game this week and the weather and all the changes, we wanted to make sure we got them both in there and got them some reps.  So, they did a great job.  I mean there's lots to improve upon offensively and even pitching wise we weren’t as clean as we like to be.  It sounds crazy, but we gave up too many free passes, had too many hit batters.  So, something to definitely to build off of and work off of and it's a lot of fun to get that first one, especially in that fashion,” said Young.

          Young says both guys were able to make big pitches when down in the count.  “I’ll tell you what Brady for us is that “Mr. Consistent” for three years.  Again, sounds crazy, but he was very frustrated with himself.  He wasn't locating the fastball like he normally does.  Then A.J. Likowski last year he was a bullpen guy for us.  I think he gave up one hit all year last year in relief.  So, this year he's taking the job with the velocity.  Both guys were able to throw any pitch in any count.  There were a couple of times we were 2-0 or 3-1 or even full counts and we’re throwing off speed pitches or breaking balls.  So, both guys did a really good job mixing it up when they needed to and keeping guys off balance and being able to work out of really self-inflicted situations when they fell behind hitters or gave up free passes.  So, both guys we can rely on throwing multiple pitches in any count,” he said.

          Young says they faced a very good pitcher in Ashland’s Luke Bryant and they were able to get just enough done on offense.  “At this time of the year the bats are always a little bit behind the arms, so for us that's something we have got to fix.  Brady Bowen, not only did he get the win on the mound, but he had three hits.  Four hits, that's all it's all we got offensively was four hits.  With us it's trying to work counts, be patient, fight off tough pitches.  We knew with Luke Bryant, who arguably is the best pitcher in our league, division one commit, we knew it was going to be low scoring,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We actually talked to our guys about racing to five.  We talked about getting five first to get it done.  We had some really good, some really smart, really aggressive base running that we were able to capitalize on.  A couple pass balls got by, couple clutch hits and we were able to kind of scratch three across.  We thought we could have had a few more, we just didn't execute at the level that eventually we hope to.  It's again something to learn from and it's definitely good to get this one against like I said arguably the best pitcher in the league.”

 

Published 3/29/24

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Madison Bounces Back

 

          Madison got a much needed win over talented New Philadelphia (8-3) on Thursday evening at Madison in play in the Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Coach Tim Niswander says they really tore the cover off the ball on Thursday.  “We hit the ball well all the way through the order and we hit the ball hard.  I mean it we drove the ball (Thursday) night.  We hit seven doubles, a triple and a home run.  So, we were banging it to the fence all night long.  Then even the base hits that we had they were stung pretty well.  So, we hit well through the order.  Still made a couple base running mistakes, which we had also done the night before down at New Philly.  Played much better defensively.  We had a lot of errors than right before as well as mental errors and mental errors on the bases.  The loss down there was just not a good night for us in really any vein,” said Niswander.

          The Lady Quakers (1-1,1-1) had beaten Madison (7-6) on Wednesday night.

          Niswander says the Lady Rams (2-1,1-1) execution was a lot better in the second game.  “(Thursday) night we seemed to turn the corner and do everything well.  Still made a couple of mistakes and we certainly didn't play perfect, but we did play much, much better.  Now it's just going to be a matter of can we consistently have that type of production in all three phases pitching defense and at the plate,” he said.

          Niswander says the “OCC” softball race is going to be a battle again this spring and Thursday night was a big win for them.  “New Philly, Madison and Mount Vernon all tied for the league last year and New Philly is the only one of the three of us that has everybody back.  So, we knew it was going to be a tough match.  We're getting tested really early right out of the gate with Ontario, New Philly, New Philly, Hillsdale and then we get Shelby if it doesn't rain on Saturday.  So, we didn't do ourselves any favor by front loading the schedule,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The way the league runs, the top half of that league we're really going to have to play well.  Any win you can get against that top half is going to count.  Last year, we beat New Philly twice and then we lost to Mt. Vernon twice and then New Philly beat Mt. Vernon to help us out.  So, it was a big win and with them having everybody back it it's a big win at the beginning of the season.  You are kind of kicking yourself because you know you should have won the night before too and been on top of the league, but that didn't happen and now we just got to keep battling.”

 

Published 3/29/24

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Ontario Rallies Past River Valley

 

          Carter Weaver and James Mahon controlled the River Valley offense and Jake Chapman got a big sixth inning hit and Ontario edged River Valley (2-1) on Thursday evening in play in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          Trailing (1-0), Ontario got two in their half of the sixth on a big hit by Chapman.

          Coach Mike Ellis says they were just waiting for that clutch hit.  “We kept telling the kids we just need to get someone on base and then someone come up behind them and get that clutch hit.  We got guys on all night, we just couldn't get that clutch hit.  Their pitcher Adien Gray did really well.  I think he's really going to give other teams in the “MOAC” trouble.  I thought he was really good (Thursday) night for them,” said Ellis.

          Weaver went six strong innings for the Warriors (1-1,1-0) and Ellis says they decided to bring in Mahon to work the seventh and he got the save.  “He just gave up three hits, he walked one and he had 10 strikeouts in six innings.  We brought in James Mahon and he closed the door.  He had three strikeouts and only gave up one hit in the seventh,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “For us, we had really good pitching.  We had some errors.  We have still got some young guys, their first year on the varsity.  Hopefully, when they get some more games under their belt, they'll start to feel more confident out there and start to play up to their ability.”

          With the weather issues that we always seem to have at the beginning of the baseball season in Northern Ohio, Ellis says they have to continue to work on their mental discipline.  “We talk about that a lot.  It's easier to talk about it than to actually do it.  So, it's still a work in progress.  This was only our second game.  We play River Valley (Friday) and then we're supposed to play Norwalk on Saturday.  So, we'll have to see what happens (Friday) night,” he said.

 

Published 3/29/24

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Freddies Put Some Runs up

 

          Fredericktown drilled Cardington (10-3) in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game on Thursday evening.

          Cardington had beaten the Freddies (2-1) on Wednesday night.

          Coach Ryan Hathaway says their execution was much better on Thursday.  “I was really proud of our guys for finding a way to get it done (Thursday) night.  We kind of had a rough one (Wednesday) night, we had some opportunities, but to see them come out (Thursday) night and play a much better game was a relief for our coaches,” said Hathaway.

          Hathaway says a big inning was a big factor in the win.  “In one inning I think we put seven up.  We put the ball in play and Cardington didn't make all the plays that they could have,” he told Swakonsports.com on Thursday night, “When you're putting pressure on them and getting the ball in play and the way we executed as far as getting butts down and moving runners up.  I thought it was a a good game for us.”

          Hathaway says when you get a chance to put up a crooked number, you have to take advantage of it.  “I think it shifts the kind of feel of the game.  We were in a 2-1 or a close game and then all of a sudden you put a seven spot up I mean that that gives you a lot of confidence, especially for your pitcher.  Anytime you can get more than two or three in the inning obviously you're going to try to make the most of it,” he said.

 

Published 3/29/24

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Northmor Blanks Lucas

 

          Grant Bentley and Trevor Brubaker combined on a five hit shutout and the Northmor Golden Knights beat Lucas (8-0) on Wednesday evening at Northmor in non-conference baseball.

          Drew Hammond had three hits and he and Bentley each had two RBI in the win.

          Coach Buck Workman says they played a solid overall game.  “Yeah, we were happy, I mean as cold as it was our pitchers threw strikes and didn't walk anybody.  We didn't make any errors behind them.  We made the plays we needed to make and kept the pitch counts down, that's always nice early in the season.  So, we're pretty pleased,” said Workman.

          16 players saw action and 14 of them got to the plate.  Workman says that gives them more data to make some decisions about varsity playing time.  “I think that's huge.  We have got a lot of young guys.  We're trying to see here early on who can and can't do what,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “That pays dividends later in the season and years to come.  So, I mean it's great to get all those guys in there and get some action,”

          Eight hits on a cold day isn’t bad and Workman says their timing in the box is coming around.  “The bats are getting a little bit better each time now.  We're starting to see the ball better, I think.  Some guys are coming around a little faster than others, but I think they'll get there eventually.  Yeah, the progress has been pretty good,” he said.

 

Published 3/28/24

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Highland Takes “MOAC” Lead

 

          Highland, the defending Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion, took a half game lead in the conference standings here in the first week of play with a (10-8) win at home against Marion Pleasant on Wednesday evening.

          Coach Donnie Kline says they got a big lead and hung on.  “I think anytime you get two wins in the league column so to speak I think that's a good thing for the boys.  We're talking about it spent a lot of time trying to work on the field (Wednesday), and we, of course, like everybody else, are fighting Mother Nature and we got the field playable,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “The first game with Pleasant was a little bit more of an upset.  We were kind of got on the hit parade.  I think we had 17 hits in that game.  (Wednesday) night it was a little closer.  We had a 10-0 lead and got some young guys in late and walk monster was definitely an impact here, but it's good to have two wins the league and just have to get better from here.”

          Highland smoked Pleasant (19-2) on Monday at Pleasant.

          Kline says they are always working to get better and he says this season they are a bigger and stronger ball club.  “I think the boys for a lot of time in this winter.  I think one of the unknown or one of the secret sauces kind of thing was they spent lot of time in the weight room this year and a lot of guys are stronger and look bigger and look faster.  So far, we've had a pretty good little recipe, but again a lot of hard baseball for us for sure,” he said.

          Highland (2-0,2-0) is headed for three game road trip to the Cincinnati area.  Kline believes that will be good for them.  “We have got three games down there in Cincinnati.  They play very good baseball, some of the best in the state, down in southwest Ohio.  So, we're excited about the challenge.  It’ll be fun, it'll be a good for the boys to kind of hang out as well.  I mean these guys, they spend a lot of time together at school, but when you get away from that and spend some time at the hotel.  We have got some activities planned to go watch college baseball.  It should be a good weekend and we're looking forward to getting into some warmer weather,” said Kline.

 

Published 3/28/24

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Galion Beats Clear Fork

 

          Galion scored early and they topped Clear Fork (8-4) in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference baseball game played on Wednesday evening at the renovated American Legion Field in Bellville.

          The Tigers took a (2-0) lead in the top of the first, Clear Fork rallied for three in the bottom of the second.  Galion took command by scoring at least once in four of the next five innings.

          Coach Kenny Fagan says got some clutch hits.  “They still struck out 13 times, but we managed to plate eight.  The bats came alive when we had guys on and that'll do it for us,” he said.

          Fagan says they were able to reach Clear Fork pitchers for some extra base hits to drive in runs.  “We had a few big ones.  Max (Albert) led the game off with two run homer, so that gave us some good juice.  We had a couple doubles Hunter Miniard had a nice double.  Grady Crim had four RBI's and a double,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We had guys on, we kind of executed some good team baseball and plated some guys across.”

          Galion (2-0,1-0) plays at home against Clear Fork (1-1,0-1) on Thursday afternoon.

          Fagan says they have to be ready to do it again.  “We split with Clear Fork last year, so we know they're capable of coming back to our place and stealing one from us.  They're a darn good team, so we have got to come prepared again (Thursday),” said Fagan.

 

Published 3/28/24

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Mt. Vernon Gets Out of the Gate With a Win

 

          Mt. Vernon beat Lexington (7-2) in the opening game for both in the Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Tuesday.

          Senior Konner Daughriety earned the win against the Minutemen and coach Nate Hunt believes this could be a special season for them.  “He's our dog.  He's the first one there for practice, first one there for games.  We've been fortunate to have pitchers in the past that have confidence.  The confidence that Konnor has.  It just pours out of him.  It’s the same way in the box the same way on the bump, same way when he's playing shortstop.  The confidence that he has in his game.  We tell our guys to trust the work that they put into it. That guy has put a lot of work into his body.  He's put a lot of work into his game.  I'm proud of him.  He's reaping the benefits of all of the hard work without having all the pressure of what's next.  He's going to go to Ashland (University) next year and it just feels like for me watching him play this year there's just that weight lifted off of him.  He gets to just be free and easy and just plays the game,” said Hunt.

          Lexington (0-2,0-1) returns everyone from last year and Hunt says that was a quality win for them on Tuesday.  “The coaching staff over at Lexington is just phenomenal.  We were talking about how we're moving into a new conference and Lexington is one of those teams that I want to continue to play as a non conference.  One because they're close, but more importantly they're well coached, very respectful, they play the game the right way.  It's just a quality baseball club that just does everything by the books,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “To be senior heavy like that.  I knew that last year when they said that they don't have a senior night because they don't have a senior.  I knew they were going to be force to be reckoned with coming into this season.  The cool thing about this conference too is you go back-to-back, not a lot of conferences do that.  So, to be able to go back-to-back days, it's new day, it's a new game, it's going to be new weather.  The game of baseball is so weird that if you don't have your ducks in a row then anybody can beat anybody any given day.  The best team doesn't always win.”

          Mt. Vernon and Lexington were the only “OCC” teams to play on Tuesday night, the other three games were cancelled by the weather.  Hunt felt it was important to get out there.  “Well, I think conference games are always important to play.  We're trying to put as much adversity as we can throw in our guys early in the season.  Just trying to get these guys to be uncomfortable.  Trying to find a way to do that.  So, yeah I think that was important.  Also, I think we take a lot of pride in our field.  I think with it being an all grass field it's something there's not a lot to maintain.  So, the dirt was a big part.  The weather seemed like it was going to clear up.  Our coaching staff does a phenomenal job of just getting everything ready.  When I got to the field our guys are ready to play.  My assistant coach says, coach you worry about to getting the guys ready, we'll get the field ready.  To have somebody with that much confidence in the field, and what he does, and it's one of those things where you just trust it and it worked out,” he said.

 

Published 3/27/24

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Mohawk Downs Crawford in “N10” Opener

 

          Mohawk gave up only two unearned runs in downing Colonel Crawford (4-2) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Tuesday at Mohawk.

          First year coach Zach Hawkins says they got outstanding pitching on Tuesday.  “Hunter Haynes started for us.  Defensively, we had kind of a rough inning to start.  We gave up two unearned runs, but he settled down and the next four innings after that first inning he threw, I want to say a total of 35 pitches, and I think they only had a couple of base runners in the four innings, so he did a great job,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Then after that in the sixth inning we brought in Brayden Chester and he retired all five batters that he saw as well.  So, very pleased early on with those two guys.  (Monday) we had some good pitching as well beating New Riegel, so far very pleased with the guys on the mound.”

          Hawkins says Haynes did a very good job of mental discipline on Tuesday, considering some of the defensive mistakes they made.  “We had a couple opportunities to get out of that first inning with you know no runs given up and it just didn't happen.  Instead of putting his head down and you know sulking he got himself together and he gave us a good outing.  Gave us five and a third innings gave us a great chance to win and Brayden came in close it down,” said Hawkins.

          Hawkins added they got some timely hitting and played some good fundamental baseball against Crawford.  “We had some really timely hitting as well.  Did a really good job moving runners and getting guys in from third with less than two outs and some good RBI groundouts.  Just kind of chipped away.  We got one run in four different innings.  So just kind of got guys on, moved them around, and got them in and got the job done,” he said.

 

Published 3/27/24

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Seneca East Outscores Wynford

 

          Seneca East banged out 11 hits and they won at Wynford (9-6) in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference opener for both schools on Tuesday evening.

          Caden Fritz, Jake Bowerman and Braydon Robinson all had RBI in the first inning and the Tigers added two more in the second.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says that start was key for them.  “It sure was, that was huge starting off the game with three consecutive base hits.  We score three in the first, two in the second, it was a big confidence boost, big momentum boost for us,” said Bowerman.

          Wynford had closed to (6-4) after five innings, but the Tigers put up a three spot in the sixth.

          Bowerman says against Wynford you have to keep adding on.  “They're a very good offensive team, so we knew we had to plate some runs early on and get things going,” he said.

          Nathan Parks had three hits on the day.  Fritz and Robinson both had two RBI.

          Fritz got the win in relief, giving up no earned runs over two innings.

          They play at home against Wynford on Wednesday.

          Bowerman says he was pleased to get the game played Tuesday.  He adds the league is going to be competitive again this year.  “You never know what the weather's going to bring.  Early this morning I had my doubts if we were going to play, but fortunately we were able to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “It's going to be a tough race in the league this year, there are no give me games, that's for sure.”

 

Published 3/27/24

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Madison Downs Ontario

 

          Madison went to Ontario and beat the defending division II state runner-up (7-4) in a non-conference game on Monday night.

          Coach Nick Melton says Ontario is going to be really good again this year and that was a solid win for the Rams.  “It's a great win and it really doesn't have to do with what they did last year, but who they are this year.  They’re still a really good baseball team and (Monday) night to go over to their place on opening day for both of us at Ontario and come away with big win it's great for our program,” said Melton.

          Melton says the Rams really hit the ball pretty well against Ontario.  “It's seven runs on twelve hits (Monday) night and we hit from one through nine through our order.  So, we took advantage of some mistakes Ontario made and they did us as well, but anytime we score seven runs we feel pretty good about the outcome,” he said.

          E.J. Fox got the win Monday and Melton feels like this could be a breakthrough performance for Fox.  “We threw E.J. Fox (Monday) night and E.J. had a rough year sophomore last year, but he came out (Monday) night he made some big time pitches in some big moments,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I can't be more pleased with his progress, the work he's put in.  He threw a really nice game and he got himself in some situations, but made some big pitches when it counted and was able to get the middle of their order out consistently.”

 

Published 3/26/24

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Hillsdale Holds Off West Holmes

 

          Hillsdale scored nine runs in the second inning and they held on to beat West Holmes (10-9) in a non-conference game on Monday evening.

          Coch Jason Snow says they were able to string some things together in that second inning.  “We had combination of some key hits and took advantage of a couple of walks and just kind of got some momentum going there and got their pitcher of the game worked on their reliever a little bit.  So, kind of got us a big lead, of course we gave it back a few innings later with a lot of walks.  We were able to hold on for a win,” he said.

          Kael Lewis had three hits on the day for the Falcons. 

          The Falcons ended up giving up six runs in the fifth inning, but Snow says they got a fine performance by the Freshman Lewis.  “It was a great experience for our younger kids.  With our league game (Tuesday) and we had a couple of younger kids get in some tough spots.  A couple of guys got on base for us in the sixth inning and got that add on run to make it 10-8.  Kael Lewis, our freshman shortstop, came in and he closed out the last two innings.  He walked one in the ninth and he ended up scoring, but he didn't give up any hits.  We were pleased with our young guys and their overall performance,” said Snow.

          Hillsdale plays Smithville in a couple of conference games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

          Snow says they were able to get some young kids into the game against West Holmes and that is going to pay off.  He says its important to build confidence with this group.  “I think that gives us a little bit of a tight feel early in the year.  I know it's a non league game, but it was our first game and it was our first experience for several of our sophomores and freshman,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “To be in a pretty tight game and come out with a win we have good feeling going in to (Tuesday).  Like we talked previously, our big goal is we want to get off to a good start, so this gets us heading the right direction.”

 

Published 3/26/24

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Buckeye Does Things Well

 

          Buckeye Central held off Monroeville (4-2) in non-league baseball on Monday.

          Coach Chad Jensen says they got good pitching from three different kids and they made the little plays that this team has to make to win games.  “We have a team with a mixture of veterans and young people.  So, we have some experience and then mixed in with you with some inexperience.  So, it was a good start for us.  We got a good five innings that Jeremiah Fishpaw, he pitched well and then we got good relief from Lance Cole and Austin Estridge finished up in the seventh.  It was one of those games where we hit the ball hard, but we hit it right at them.  It was a good game to start with because we had a lot of situations just stuff that we have to do.  You have got to do put the ball in play, getting bunts down and things you have got to do to win for us.  That's how we have to play.  So, it was good to get that first game where we had a lot of those situations come up,” said Jensen.

          Jensen says it was good that they faced those kinds of situations and were able to make the plays.  “Non league games you want to have situations.  We got two scrimmages in, but we only got two and seems like just from my experience you could just never have enough game action to get ready for games.  So, only having two scrimmages then because of the weather to me just wasn't enough, but we were able to play well enough (Monday) night and get the job done,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “It's 2-2 and we score two in the bottom of the sixth.  We got some clutch hits, some really good base running.  It was good for our kids to do that.  It was good for us.”

          Buckeye will play at Bucyrus in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Tuesday and then host the Redmen on Wednesday.

          Jensen says they are going to have to do the same things to win.  “We’re at Bucyrus on Tuesday.  They're going to be ready to go.  They didn't play (Monday) night I don't think.  So, it's going to be their season opener.  Bucyrus always plays us tough and coach (Sean) Maudsley does a great job over there.  They're going to be ready for us.  It was good for us to get this under our belts because we know we can win the close games.  We know what it takes, but the bottom line is (Tuesday) is a new day.  We have got two games against Bucyrus and our kids know that each day is a new day and we're going to get after it because Bucyrus is going to give us their best,” he said.

 

Published 3/26/24

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Wynford Rallies to Win

 

          Grant McGurie’s bases loaded, three run triple pushed the Wynford Royals past Huron (9-8) on Monday evening in a non-conference baseball game.

          The Royals were down five runs late, but were able to rally for the win.

          Coach Tom Smith says some younger guys were able to set the table.  “The top of the order has been hitting.  In the seventh inning (Monday) the bottom three hitters got on and got us back to the top of the order and then we were able to push them home,” he said.

          Wynford is going to be a pretty good team and Smith says a win like Monday will continue to build confidence with the team.  “I think it's going to be a huge shot of confidence.  We’ve got some young guys.  I have got a freshman and two sophomores starting this year.  I think two of those guys got on late in the game to help us out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I think just seeing that fight and not giving up and being able to come back when we were down 8-3 going into the bottom of the sixth, so it was nice.”

          The Royals begin a two game series in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference with Seneca East starting on Tuesday.

 

Published 3/26/24

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Crestview Experienced, Talented

 

          Crestview is the defending Firelands Conference baseball champion and this year they look very strong again.

          Veteran coach Don Keener says they bring back a lot of kids that have a boatload of varsity experience.  “We have got quite a few veterans coming back, to say the least.  I have got seven guys with quality experience, six full time starters, a seventh guy that played a decent amount.  Three of my guys are four year starters.  The other two or three-year starters, so we have got some pretty good experience,” said Keener.

          That includes Jaret Ringler, who was the Cougars number one pitcher last season.

          Yes, expectations are high, but Keener says it is going to be a tough road this year of they are going to repeat as conference champ.  “I think we all know what we're capable of.  It's just a matter of going out and taking care of business I guess.  I mean everybody's going to be fighting for the same thing.  We do have some good quality players and we keep talking it's not going to be easy.  I mean it may be even harder, so you have got to be ready to go no matter what,” he said.

          Crestview starts the season in non-conference action on Saturday at home against Black River.  Their first Firelands Conference series is April 1 and 2 against Western Reserve.

          Keener says the key to their success is to consistently get good pitching.  “It always boils down to pitching and defense.  I mean how strong are your pitchers that going that day.  How good is your defense behind them when you play that day,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “I mean any little mistake can turn a game just like that no matter who you have on the mound.  You could have the best pitcher in the state, but if you make mistakes behind him, it's not going to matter.”

 

Published 3/22/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Wooster Different, but Still Good

 

          Wooster is the defending champion in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and they made a run to the division I regional tournament last year.

          This month, coach Steve Young says they have done their best to be prepared for the season.  “We had a pretty good run of some nice weather and now as the season officially gets here it seems like it's taking a turn for the worse.  It's one of those things where we’re just trying to keep our guys focused and get some good work in indoors.  We've been fortunate enough to have the College of Wooster indoor Scot Center to go in there and get some good work in and get out and the turf field as the weather allows.  So, we lost quite a few of our I guess top end players last year, but we got quite a few guys back.  So, we're just trying to sort through who's going to kind of fill those roles and step up and see how things play out for the rest of our preseason here and get ready to roll,” he said.

          Wooster opens the season next Tuesday and Wednesday with their first “OCC” series of the year against Ashland.

          Pitching was a big part of the Generals success last season and Young says they do have some arms back.  “Pitching is huge.  We've said it for years, I mean if you got two or three good, reliable arms you can go to, you have got shot.  So, that's really what allowed us to have the run we had last year with our arms.  We had several guys that we believed in, trusted, and we're fortunate enough to have the majority of those arms back this year with some guys who have shown in the preseason and throughout the off season that maybe they're ready to take a step forward too,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We're excited about some of the arms.  We have obviously lots of prove and it's a lot different in a gym on a mound versus out in the game against a different opponent.  So, we'll see how it unfolds throughout the year.  It’s a work in progress for everybody at this point.  Typically coming out early in the season the arms are ahead of the hitters.  So, we have got to kind of lean on those arms early and wait until our bats get going and see how we can do.”

          When it comes to their offense, Young says they are going to be a lot different than they were a year ago.  “I mean for us, we lost our three and four hitter.  We lost a lot of our power, a lot of our RBI, but what I would say is we replace it with speed, speed, speed more speed.  Our lineup is very, very, very fast for high school program.  We don't have the power we've had in the past, but I think we need to just execute and play to our strengths.  We've been working situational execution all preseason and we do return six of our guys back from last year.  So, just kind of really trying to fill out those other three spots.  We’ve had some young guys who stepped up early and we'll kind of continue to see how that plays out throughout the rest of the preseason and then into the beginning part of the season.  Again, similar to the mound, kind of see how things unfold as we go,” said Young.

 

Published 3/22/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Mansfield Christian Looking Good

 

          There may be a bit of a baseball renaissance going on at Mansfield Christian.

          Coach Cory Branham says there is a lot of excitement in the program.  “I think we're going to field a really good club this year over at MCS.  Baseball traditionally not one of the top one or two sports at Mansfield Christian, but over my tenure there we're starting to get there.  We have 20 boys coming out this year, some with a lot of experience, some with a little less experience.  What I have noticed, and I'm just leaving an extended practice (Thursday) night, guys wanted to stay.  We did a three inning scrimmage, divided up, and we finished 3-2 with the winning team holding what would have been the game tying run on third base.  So, just the spirit of competition and a passion for baseball that's maybe new to Mansfield Christian.  I think it's really going to define this group we're going to field this year,” said Branham.

          Branham adds they are attracting some kids to be part of the baseball program.  “For some of them it comes a little more natural.  At Mansfield Christian a lot of boys who play baseball are maybe some kids that have never really been into athletics but let me try baseball.  When you get that and then you see that passion in the kids eyes or when you put them in a first and third offensive situation or a stealing situation and they start to see why.  Then you see that hunger and that passion and that fire develop.  It's always exciting and encouraging to see those things out of young players and that's where we're getting for sure,” he said.

          Branham says they are trying to put together a pitching staff and he says they have the elements.  “We're going to bring back several people who have pitched for us in varsity games.  We did lose our one and two starters from last year, both of those boys played for the Richland County All Stars this past summer.  They were both all conference selections.  So, we have a couple guys that are middle relievers, who are now going to have to start.  We have an indication of who our ace is going to be.  Number five for us, a kid named Zach Dumbeck, he's a new face around here, but he's really taking the reins of that ace.  Our number four guy from last year, our starting catcher Brock Rentzel, is going to move into the two,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Then we have three or four guys trying to round out a rotation that's probably going to be four and then three or four guys being relievers after that.  So, it’s going to be a challenge for us with some of the inexperience, but the guys at one and two are really taking ownership of those slots.  We're just putting the finishing touches on who is three and four and then who's that one and two reliever and closer.  We bring a lot back there, sophomore J.R. Reader, sophomore Blaine Morrow, they both threw meaningful innings for us last year and we’ll need them to be stepping up.  Then having that senior leadership out of Zach and Brock hopefully we can piece all that together and have staff a that's easy to manage.”

 

Published 3/22/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

It’s a Process at Hillsdale

 

          It may a be rebuilding year at Hillsdale, but the Falcons still have some talent.

          Coach Jason Snow says they are going to have some kids that are new to varsity baseball.  “Well, we have a lot of questions. a lot of young guys coming in.  We have three returners to give us a little bit of strength up the middle.  We have a catcher, a centerfielder coming back, and a third baseman.  So, we have got a lot of sophomores, maybe even a few freshmen that we're going to have to mix in this year.  We’ve been outside a lot.  Only had a chance to get one scrimmage, so we're going to have to early in the year just kind of go by how we’re feeling comfortable and try some different things and see what happens,” said Snow.

          They open the season with a non-league game at West Holmes on Monday.  Their first Wayne County Athletic League series is Tuesday and Wednesday against Smithville.

          Snow hopes this is a team that’s going to better in May than it is now.  “We've talked about that with some of our guys because we did have a scrimmage with Ashland and we had six errors.  Some of the errors were guys we know are capable.  First time out on the field, first time varsity activity and hopefully get the nerves out of the way and we settle down.  Just keep getting better each day and like you said come May maybe we're finding the top of our game and we're a little more competitive and maybe make a little bit of a tournament run,” he said.

          Snow says they have got to find some confidence early in the season before they get into the meat of their tough league schedule.  “The challenge is, we talked about our strengths and our weaknesses and how we want to keep that going or at least improve so we know going into next year with a youthful group that we have coming back that will be ready to get right back on top,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “That's what our goal is and do it day by day and hopefully it comes sooner than later.  We just have got to get some confidence in some of our players.  Our big goal is we want to get off to good start so our kids feel better about themselves and we can just keep going from there.”

 

Published 3/22/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Perimeter Defense Big For Shelby

 

          Shelby meets Maysville in a division II state semifinal at the University of Dayton on Saturday afternoon.

          The winner plays Youngstown Ursuline or Kettering Alter for the state title on Sunday.

          There will be a public sendoff for Shelby on Friday and there have been a number of events involving students this week.

          Coach Greg Gallaway says that is all part of this experience.  “That's been a message that we really sent to our guys as much as we can.  Just enjoy this day by day our Monday practice, our Tuesday practice, Wednesday, Thursday to Friday when we leave.  Just little things that we do down there as a team we want everyone to soak it in.  It's been the message that's been consistent among our team.  We're just very fortunate to be one of four teams left in division II still playing basketball,” he said.

          However, Gallaway says when it comes to practice, they have to have the same focus they have had all year.  “We're trying to get on routine as much as possible for us in the regular season and postseason.  We don't play till Saturday, so we've been light to start the week, but we want the same effort and energy and focus that we always get.  So, that's we're trying to keep things consistent with scheduling and organization, which is our practice.  Right now, it's hard to do that, especially with everyone that is contacting our kids at school through social media, newspapers, etc.  I will say our guys have done a great job taking those in because we want our kids to embrace that because they deserve to get recognition right now, but they also have such a good job of understanding when it's time to turn the page and focus on the task at hand Saturday,” said Gallaway.

          Shelby (25-2) plays Maysville (25-3) on Saturday afternoon.  The Panthers beat Columbus Bishop Hartley (50-49) in Vincent Warren (72-64) in their regional last week at Ohio University.

          Gallaway says this is a team that can score and has multiple shooters.  “They're just a really good basketball team and it's multiple guys.  They have had an incredible year.  Their tournament run has been really special, just like everyone that's down at Dayton. They're led by their senior guard Alex Bobb, he averages about 26 points per game, he's a scorer, he can score a multitude of different ways, has a deep trigger and really gets them going offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Then they have a lot of other guys that have stepped up, especially in this tournament run.  Gator Nichols, who's a guard, a sophomore, and then Jordyn Watson, who's more of a wing, a 6’2” wing, that's played some phenomenal basketball, both those guys have.  They shoot a lot of threes but they're really efficient.  It's one thing for teams to shoot a lot of threes, but it's another thing to shoot a lot of threes and make them, I know it sounds simple.  There's shooting close to 40 percent as a team right now.  So, we have got to do obviously a really good job on getting hands up on the perimeter.”

          Gallaway says with a team that shoots that well from beyond the arc, they must get close outs.  “I'm not saying we have played a kid similar to him, but we've played against some really talented guards this year.  A couple of things you know that stick in my mind with how we approach that it's not one guy.  It's not just the initial matchup, there's four other guys that are connected to where he is, communicating, so little things that are important.  At the end of the day, they're going to make shots, their good players, and we want to just try to make those shots to tough as possible,” said Gallaway.

          Shelby is also good at a lot of things and Gallaway says they must continue to do what they are doing.  “That's why we're down in Dayton this weekend.  The identity that we have on off the floor.  Then offensively and defensively we feel really good on what that is and we have a lot of guys that don't question it and that's what's got us here.  That's something that you still want to do.  Obviously, there's going to be tweaks and different things throughout the week to get prepared for Saturday, but you never want to lose the fact of who you are,” he said.

 

Published 3/21/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Shelby Should Enjoy it; Keep it the Same

 

          Shelby is making its first ever trip to the state tournament, but some other programs in North Central Ohio have been there before.

          The coaches of those teams emphasize to enjoy the journey and maintain their practice routine.

          Lexington won the state title in 1989 and 1991 under coach Gregg Collins.

          They also made the state final four in 2018 under current coach Scott Hamilton.

          He says his advice would be enjoy the tip, but make sure you prepare just like the Whippets have been all season.  “I would tell coach (Greg) Gallaway to make sure that everyone on his staff and his players enjoy every moment leading up to the state tournament, and while they are in it.  I would tell him to keep his routine as normal as possible and not concern himself with the stage that they are playing in.  Prepare for the next opponent like he has every opponent this season.  Looking back on my experience it was a very enjoyable time in the state tournament,” said Hamilton.

          Shelby beat Lexington in the division II district final this year.

          Willard has been to the state four times, the last time in 2001 under current Olentangy Liberty head coach Greg Nossaman.

          He says he misses those days when he played Shelby.  “First of all, it's all about the small towns.  I miss coaching at Willard, every night, regular season, tournaments, packed houses, the people lived and died by it.  We had so many great games with Shelby over my 10 years there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We played them back in June, in Ashland, in a shootout, and we ended up beating them.  We beat them by five points.  I remember Natalie Lantz was there, of course her son played.  They are a very good team, that’s summer ball, you know, whatever.”

          Nossaman emphasizes that these opportunities don’t come along very often.  “Just enjoy the environment, just enjoy everything about it because it just doesn't happen very often.  I know Greg (Gallaway) has done a great job with those guys.  A lot of good players.  I miss that basketball because it's all about the community and the kids that are born and raised there,” he said.

          One coach in my phonebook that has won a state championship is former Norwalk coach Steve Gray.  He led the Truckers to the division II state title in 2014.

          Gray says Shelby should not change their practice routine at all because that would send the wrong message.  “Don't change anything in terms of their preparation, how they go about things and practice during the week because obviously what they're doing right now is really working.  The change, I think, sort of sends a little message to the players maybe we're not good enough.  So, if I were them, I would just keep everything the same because they're doing a great job,” he said.

          Gray feels that Friday practice that the Whippets have planned for the Dayton area is going to be very important.  “First of all, I told them to enjoy the journey, that was our theme all the way through the tournament, enjoy it.  The great thing about practice is you do have their ear and you just emphasize for this next two hours I'll your mom, I'm your dad, I'm your coach, I'm your everything and you can turn out all the outside noise, but really do enjoy it.  Plus, I think Shelby's doing it the right way.  They're going to go down to Dayton on Friday, practice someplace and that's when you have your kids alone.  I think that's a really good idea, it worked for us, and I just hope they come out with the right results,” said Gray.

 

Published 3/21/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Crestview Can be Really Good

 

          This could be a special year for the Crestview Lady Cougars softball team, but only time will tell.

          That story will begin to be told when they play Black River in a non-conference game on Saturday.  They open Firelands Conference action against Western Reserve on April 1 and 2.

          Coach Scott Durbin says they only have one senior, but they have a lot of experience on the roster.  “It's a younger team with a lot of experience.  We didn't lose anyone last year.  We've got Sophie Durbin coming back and she's our lone senior this year.  With that being said, we've got a wealth of experience of three-year starters at the junior level, we've got some two-year starters at the sophomore level and then we've got some freshmen, two, three freshmen that are coming in and pushing hard for spots,” he said.

          Durbin says having everyone back makes the preseason a lot different.  “Just having everybody back you get to start at a different spot on that first day of practice.  The girls put a ton of work in the offseason in the weight room and the open gyms and live hitting, it's been it's been exciting.  Just being able to start at a higher level than what you normally would do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We went up and scrimmaged a really good Lakewood team with a with some good pitching and looked really good.  Then we played a good Shelby team and honestly we kicked the ball around some and it was a little disappointing.  Then we played a really good Madison team (Wednesday) night and we were back.  I thought we played really well defensively. I thought we definitely got some timely hitting off a really good pitcher.  So, overall I'm excited about where we're at.”

          Durbin feels they have been tested in their scrimmages and that’s what he wants.  “We go out and we look for really good teams, good programs, year in and you out to scrimmage because we want to be ready for the regular season.  Then we try to do the same thing in the regular season and get a really good schedule so that we're ready for tournament play.  We've talked a lot and we won't put limitations on ourselves.  I mean obviously we set goals, but I've told the girls this this is our time and we have got to own that.  Part of that is believing it's our time and the other part is putting the work in to make sure that we're ready when the time comes,” said Durbin.

 

Published 3/21/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

St. Paul Ready to be Good

 

          Norwalk St. Paul may have the talent to be a factor in the Firelands Conference baseball race this spring.

          Coach Aaron Fries says they have almost everyone back from last year.  “This is my most experienced group.  We have all but one starter back from last year, so it's a pretty veteran group,” he said.

          Fries says he has been pleased with what he has seen on the field and in the gym from the players.  “We've had quite a few kids who didn't do a winter sport this season, so we've had a lot of our kids in and they look pretty good from when we started back in November to getting to this point those guys have made a lot of strides and should be leaders for us as we get the season started and we kind of bring along some of the guys from the winter sports,” said Fries.

          St. Paul opens the season by hosting Port Clinton in a non-conference game on Saturday.  Their conference games are on April 1 and 2 against New London.

          Fries says this year is really no different than any other.  He expects his players to always be at their best.  “I always say we always have a high standard and we want the kids to try to meet that standard no matter whether we have got a veteran group coming back or whether we have got some young kids in the mix or whatever the case may be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “We want a high standard and we want the kids to work to meet that standard.  Live up to that standard and play to the best of our abilities and see where we're standing at the end of the year.”

 

Published 3/21/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Mt. Vernon is Ready

 

          Mt. Vernon, a consistent contender in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, is looking forward to doing that again this spring.

          Coach Nate Hunt says the biggest hurdle for them has been the weather, which has been inconsistent.  “It's been long just because I feel like the preseason in the winter we didn't have a lot of basketball guys, in the past we had a bunch, so it felt like we were really thin on numbers.  This year, not so much, but it's just been really long.  Then we got you know blessed with really nice weather where we were out on the turf two or three times that opening week.  Then we go back into the cage or back into the field house and it's just one of those, you know it's baseball Ohio,” said Hunt.

          Hunt says It has been a plus to have most of his guys for the entire preseason, dating back to the winter.  “You just be creative and try and work with the other coaches.  For the most part, the guys have bought into the weight room and it's been great other than dealing with what we're dealing with now with the not so great weather.  It's been really good to have everybody there throughout the entire preseason,” he said.

          The Jackets open the season with a non-conference game on Saturday against Newark Catholic.  They have a key “OCC” series next Tuesday and Wednesday against Lexington.

          Hunt says they have a couple of four year varsity players they are counting on plus some younger kids with good experience.  “I think that the strength that we have is the experience of having two, four year guys.  This will be my fifth season coaching, so I think having two guys that have been in the lineup every year but one for me is a plus.  One being at shortstop Konner Daughriety and centerfield with Johnny Askew, but I think asking guys like Zac Clow and Kayden Packard, all those guys that we asked to play important roles as a sophomore now they get to reap the benefits of that moving forward,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Jagger Dohn is another one of those guys, he was a sophomore that we had him pitch a big non conference games, some big conference games, and kind of found a way.  So, I think the experience of those young guys earlier in their career we get to reap the benefits of it now.”

 

Published 3/21/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Shoulders Returns as St. Peter’s Coach

 

          For the fourth time, Roy Shoulders will be the head coach of the Mansfield St. Peter’s Spartans boys’ basketball team.

          That announcement was made on Wednesday by the school.

          Shoulders, 59, says he has a great love for St. Peter’s.  “A very unfortunate situation happened in December of this season, which led to an interim coach taking over for the year.  The last several years I've been coaching the girls.  I have a love for St. Peter’s basketball, whether it's boys or girls, but my background has always been with boys,” he said.

          St. Peter’s was (3-19) last season.

          Shoulders says it was not a difficult decision because he respects the quality of the players in the program.  “Having been in school with the young men who are in the program, knowing them as a teacher, being around them, mentoring them, guiding them, talking with them and again getting to know them.  I think very highly of the young men in this program.  The type of people that they are and there's a hunger that's there.  It really wasn't a difficult decision.  It was a no brainer in a sense.  I guess the best way I can put it is that I have a tremendous amount of love and respect with St. Pete's basketball going back to when I was in the fifth and sixth grade.  It has been an honor and a privilege to coach the program, whether it was as a head coach or assistant, and to have this opportunity again is a dream and something I'm extremely excited about.  I'm very honored to be able to once again stand on the sideline that Bob Frye stood on and Ron Barbo stood on and Pat Mauer stood on, so it's that's something I'm very humbled and very privileged to be able to do,” said Shoulders.

          Shoulders has coached the Spartans in three previous stints, from 1992-1995, 2004-2008, and 2010.  He has an overall record of 79-96.  He led St. Peter’s to the regional tournament in March of 1993.

          He says he has a lot of energy and is excited to build a staff and begin working with the kids.  “I'm a very intense individual.  I'm a very no nonsense person when it comes to playing the game and doing the things necessary.  I don't consider 59 to be old, I don't think it is old.  I say gosh I still have a lot left in the tank.  I love my job as Dean of Students at St. Pete's.  I get up every day loving the place I go to and loving the job that I have and loving the people that I work with.  I was telling someone last week, we were talking about education,” he told Swankonsports.com, “I was in the classroom for 35 years and now year number 36, I'm Dean of Students and I'm glad I'm not one of those people that were in the classroom to 35 years and they become jaded, they become you know cranky or what have you.  I'd like to think my energy and vigor and sense of humor and drive is just as much as it was 20-30 years ago.  I mean I'm thankful to God I have good health, I feel good, I just love what I do, so yeah I'm really looking forward to it.”

          Shoulders says the most important thing he will do is help the kids become greats persons.  “I'm known around here as the tough love guy you know I from the students, and even the people I coach, I make no bones about it that I think developing a relationship with your player, that doesn't mean you're being one of the boys, but letting your players know you care about them as people.  I've said that to anyone I've ever coached.  I care about your basketball development greatly, but I care 10 times more about you as a person you know.  On the other flip side, I say to them I hope you all feel I'm a very good coach and I prepare you and I teach you, but at the end of the day I hope you feel I'm a good man.  I hope you are glad you spend the time with me.  I hope parents are happy that their child spends time with me.  So, I'm really excited to take on a different role than I've had in a couple years, so let's get started,” said Shoulders.

 

Published 3/20/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Siegfried Smiling From Above

 

          With Shelby playing in the state boys’ basketball tournament, you can help but think of images of the past.

          The man who has always been the face the Shelby basketball down through the years is the late Larry Siegfried, who played for the Whippets in the middle to late 1950s.  He led the State of Ohio in scoring as a senior in 1957.  Siegfried passed away in 2010.

          Mansfield St. Peter’s Dean of Students Roy Shoulders had a very close relationship with Siegfried.  He considers him a second father.

          Shoulders says Siegfried would identify with this year’s Whippets. “Well, honestly, I don't think you can talk about great basketball players from Richland County without Larry, in my personal opinion he’s the best player out of Richland County.  It's argumentative, but when you talk about Shelby, Ohio, there's no one that embodied being a Shelby Whippet like Larry and during those glory days of Shelby Whippet basketball and then then transitioning to Ohio State and then the NBA.  Larry, I know is looking down and he's smiling.  I just think he's probably tickled pink seeing the Whippets make this run to the final four.  So, you know if there's any type of heavenly good coming Larry's hand is going to be to in it,” said Shoulders.

          Shoulders says that Larry was always a team first kind of guy and he would see that in the this year’s team.  “This Shelby team embodies everything that Larry stood for in its team.  It's guys who care about the group.  They put the group before themselves.  They understand the importance of being selfless.  They understand the importance of the effort you give every day as to not just benefit yourself, but it benefits the team.  So, I really believe Larry would love watching this team play.  When you look at his career at Ohio State.  As a sophomore he was the leading scorer, but when you get Havlicek and Lucas coming in and Mel Nowell and Joe Roberts and all of those guys, Larry kind of took a backseat in scoring.  It was about the team.  When he went to the NBA, first starting out with the Cleveland Pipers and so forth and then Havlicek putting a good word in for him to Red (Auerbach) and next thing you know he's with the Celtics and he's an integral part to the Celtics.  He was a role player, starting as sixth man, but primarily a starter on those five championship teams that that he won.  He was a defensive guy.  I think one year led the league in the free throw percentage, but it was everything about the team and that was what was important,” said Shoulders.

          Shoulders says basketball brought he and Siegfried together, but that was not what their relationship was about.  “Larry embodied everything that was good about sports.  For the longest period of my life in my 20s and early 30s almost every Saturday morning Larry and I would be out on his boat on Pleasant Hill fishing for bluegill and croppie.  You would think most of that time would have been spent talking about the glory days and everything and it would have been this ex pro athlete who had all these great stories to tell.  Honestly 90 to 95 percent of the conversations we had was about the essence of being a real man, the essence of leadership, what it means to be a team and team building,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When I became a head coach for the first time in 1991 the first thing Larry said to me, and I say this once I've said it 1000 times, he said Roy every person you hire will be a reflection of your character.  He goes every assistant you hire will be a reflection of what you stand for as a man, what you value as a man, and I always took that to heart.  He said you can find anyone who can “X” and “O”, but you want to find good people because you win with people.  He goes and if you start at that ground base of people with morals, values, and principles he goes the “X” and “O’s” will take care of itself and that's the type of man he was.”

          This year’s coaching staff has consistently talked about the quality of the young men on the team.  Shoulders believes that Siegfried would be impressed.  “He didn't sit around and always talk about the days playing with Bill Russell and Havlicek and being coached by Red he talked about the type of men they were and the character they had.  That's what I really appreciated about our relationship is that it really wasn't based on basketball, it kind of brought us together, but that wasn't it.  He was, I tell everybody, I'm blessed to have the mom and dad I had, but Larry was as much of a second father to me and was as instrumental in my life as my own father.  He was an unbelievable man,” he said.

 

Published 3/20/24

© Swankonsports.com

 
     
 

Lantz on Lantz

 

          The name Lantz is synonymous with Shelby basketball.

          Casey Lantz is a key member of the boys’ basketball team that will play in a state semifinal on Saturday.  He is a member of three straight “MOAC” winning teams.  His older brother Cody was part of a 2021 team that played in the regionals and two Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champion teams.  Their mother, Natalie, has coached the Lady Whippets to six straight conference titles.

          So, winning is a big part of the family.

          Casey says he and his older brother were really competitive, sometimes too much.  “In my household it is pretty competitive. So, me and my older brother.  We would always go at it with each other, but sometimes my mom just had to step in kind of put us in our place when we're younger,” he said.

          Natalie not only has been a successful coach at the Shelby, she played for the Lady Whippets in the early 1990’s.

          She says she knew this team was going to be very good from an early age.  “I think this is all the more special.  I mean getting to watch your kid go through this and have this opportunity.  I mean these boys are like brothers.  They've been playing together since second grade.  We thought they were special then.  We just had so much fun watching when they were little second graders and played in a fourth grade league.  I think they lost by one or two in the championship game.  These fourth grade teams are like how are these little dudes, how are they competing with us?” she told Swankonsports.com, “Then just year after year, just their growth.  I think it's a big statement about how important it is to have good youth coaches.  Troy Baker and Aaron Bruskotter coaching them for a long time.  I think they did it the right way.  Worked really hard on the fundamentals, worked really hard on sharing the ball and being aggressive and now to watch Casey have the same opportunity potentially that we had in the final four and hopefully win it.”

          Natalie was the second leading scorer on a Lady Whippets squad in 1992 that finished (24-3) and was the runner-up in division II.

          She says she will tell Casey to leave it all out there.  “Same thing that (assistant coach) Todd Kehres talked about like enjoy the moment, but when you get there, do your job, go play, focus on the game, let the crowd’s energy boost you.  Stay true to yourselves and go play hard, it's within their grasp.  Obviously, there's no weak teams at this point.  They've got to go out and they've got to play well both sides of the ball, but they need to play free without pressure.  I think that comes from just their leadership their experience.  This group has played together for a long time and they know each other.  Just go out have fun, enjoy the moment and leave it all out there because when it's over it's over.  You have the possibility of two more games in your high school career and make it the best,” said Lantz.

          Kehres played on a Buckeye Central team that finished as Class “A” runner up in 1983.

 

Published 3/20/24

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Northmor to Rely on Pitching

 

          Northmor, a consistent small school baseball power, is expected to be solid again this year based on their strong pitching and defense.

          Coach Buck Workman admits it has been a little bit of a slow start.  “So far, we're a little behind.  We got a late start.  We had a pretty successful basketball season, so we got like some guys there and we have got a wrestler.  We're trying to round into form.  It's getting there slowly, but surely,” said Workman.

          Now, Northmor shared the Knox Morrow Athletic Conference title in basketball and advanced to the division IV district final.

          Workman says those kids come to baseball with a winning attitude.  “I'm not disappointed by any means because you want all your programs to be successful and those guys know how to win.  They kind of bring that attitude to the other guys and you like to feed off of that,” he said.

          The Golden Knights are going to have solid pitching led by Grant Bentley and Workman hopes the hitting will be pretty good too.  “I think our pitching and defense is what we've kind of relied on the past so many years.  I think it's going to be much the same this year.  We have got a lot of returners this year, so I'm hoping the bats will be a little bit better than last year just because they've got a lot more experience under the belt.  So, we're going to continue to grow there,” said Workman.

          They will open the season on Saturday against Mansfield Senior and Franklin Heights.  Their first “KMAC” games on April 1 and 2 against Mt. Gilead.

          Workman says hitting is about timing and he expects that going to improve for his players.  “I mean as I’ve seen in the scrimmages, I sure hope that's the case because we can't do much colder.  Again, it's a lot about timing.  I don't know if it's so much the warmth or the cold, but it's just our timing is just off right now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “We've seen some pretty good pitchers in these scrimmages and we're just not quite there yet, but each one I feel like we're getting a little bit closer.”

 

Published 3/20/24

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Seneca East Counting on Some Young Guys

 

          Seneca East, who made the regional tournament last year, will have some returning talent, but they are going to need to have some younger players contribute too.

          Coach Rick Bowerman says they have gotten a good look at some of those younger players too.  “I like it, we probably been outside as much or more than we have been inside.  It's been good, we get a chance to look at kids.  Our basketball team made a trip to the regional, so I was out about six players six varsity players until just last week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “It gives you a really good chance to look at our young kids and I like what I see.  They are hard workers, really working on getting better and they're going to play a big part of our season if we're going to be successful.”

          Earlier this month, Seneca East made its first ever regional tournament and Bowerman hopes they can take that excitement and make it be a benefit in the baseball season.  “It's great for the school and great for the kids.  The kids are excited coming off of a very successful season.  We're just hoping as baseball coaches that excitement and that confidence that they have runs right into baseball season,” he said.

          The Tigers open the season by hosting New Riegel on Saturday in non-league play.  Their opening series in the “N10” will be against Wynford next Tuesday and Wednesday.

          Seneca East has the reputation of very good pitchers.  Two of them have been Northern 10 Athletic Conference player of the year.

          Bowerman says they have the making of a good staff again this season.  “We return three starting pitchers from last year.  Caden Fritz who was an All-Ohio selection is going to be our number one, he's very strong and two of the seniors behind him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “I think the top of our lineup is really strong.  Then it's going to be can we have some underclassman, we have no juniors on the team.  We have about seven underclassmen vying for some spots.  So, can somebody there step up and provide us with some depth on the mound.”

 

Published 3/20/24

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Bellevue Looking For Answers

 

          Bellevue is in the process of developing elements with their baseball team this spring.

          Coach Andy Dennings has seen some good things so far.  “Well, first of all mother nature has been great for us, so we've been able to get outside a bunch.  We got a lot of a lot of question marks, really a lot of kids.  Trying to figure out where all of the pieces of puzzles go.  Our energy's been really good, so we've been really, really pleased with what we've been seeing so far,” he said.

          Dennings says they have some pitchers, it’s just a matter of how to use them effectively.  “We definitely have some arms.  We've got some depth, but we're pretty inexperienced varsity level wise there without question, but I think we're going to be okay.  I mean our kids will get out there and compete we have just got to figure out who are who our top half is going to be, who are relievers are going to be.  We have some guys that I think are going to step up and we got some young kids are going to see a little bit of time too, so that's exciting,” said Dennings.

          Bellevue will begin its season with a trip to Upper Sandusky for a non-league game on Saturday.  Their first game in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference will be April 3 at Norwalk.

          Dennings says he thinks they will be able to hit the ball and they are going to have to this year.  “We're hoping with our inexperience on the mound, but I think we got a chance defensively to be pretty strong.  We're going to probably be a little bit younger, a little more inexperienced in the infield.  We're really old in the outfield.  I think we're going to be okay offensively.  We've had two scrimmages and we've had some good at bats.  I've been happy with some of the things we've been doing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Time will tell.  Once we get early in the year and you start seeing people's aces depending on especially how schedules fall.  So, sometimes you can really get tested.  Will have to come out and be ready to go and really compete and try to run up some pitch counts.  Hopefully, these kids get some quality at bats here early as we continue to develop as hitters.”

 

Published 3/20/24

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Shelby Takes it Day by Day

 

          Shelby plays Maysville in a division II state semifinal on Saturday afternoon at University of Dayton.

          It’s the Whippets first ever appearance in the state tournament.

          Coach Greg Gallaway says this process began almost a year ago when this year’s team talked about goals.  “At the end of each season we do post evaluations, a lot of teams do that.  I've been a part of those as an assistant coach at different schools and you always hear that response from people when it comes to an individual or team goal is we want to go down to state and sometimes you take those in and 16, 17 year old kids don't understand the work that goes along with it.  It's really easy to say that, but we had post evaluations last year, and losing a heartbreaker in the district to Lexington last year, we had those responses that they wanted to make a final four.  That wasn't something we would dismiss because we knew we had the guys to be able to get here.  We knew we were going to be able to put in the work.  So, that was something we talked about last year after our season.  Our guys kept that in mind and that had to do with all their off season workouts and credit them for for getting us this far,” said Gallaway.

          When they got together this past summer for shootouts and team camp at the University of Findlay, Gallaway says they knew they has some pretty good chemistry.  “One thing that we wanted to make sure our summer was filled with opportunities to compete.  I think that's the big thing we always look at.  Then the second thing is the chemistry to grow with the guys.  We had a lot of great opportunities with Midwest Live at Cedar Point playing against teams that were in the final four in Michigan.  It was cool to kind of follow along with them and see they're still playing basketball right now and us competing and beating those teams,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We were able to check that off with the competitive standpoint in the summer, but another thing we do is we go to Findlay camp every year where we stay in the dorms.  As much as a great weekend that is for us to just compete against other teams, the big focus with that is to just develop chemistry.  I know our guys loved it.  Hang out in the dorms going out to eat late and just bonding there.  So, I think when you look back at our connectedness, I could say a lot of that started over the summer.”

          Even with the outstanding talent that the Whippets have Gallaway says it not something where they were talking all of the time about winning a state title.  He says they talk instead about a process.  “We have goals as a team, but it wasn't something like that we put in our locker room that we looked at every day for before practice and stuff.  Our guys just had a good idea on what that was.  Sometimes when you think about results so much you lose the process and we wanted to say with the process.  Take days one at a time, take games one at a time, not look ahead.  I think when results do happen it's when you stay level headed, you just worry about yourself day in day out,” he said.

          Senior Alex Bruskotter says the players knew after a regular season loss to Lexington in December, they had to get better.  “I’ll start with the bottom first.  We lost to Lex as our second loss of the year, that's when we were kind of we're really not that good.  We're up in all these polls and all this, but we just lost to Lex and we're struggling right now.  We need to find ourselves.  We're not playing up to our potential.  Then I think we kind of stopped taking shortcuts.  We started doing things the right way.  We just did the right things day after day.  We started valuing the process a lot more.  Then I think we got wins like Findlay and we kind of just realized like we're on the right track and taking the right steps to unlock our position,” said Bruskotter.

          We’ll have more on the Whippets this week on Swankonsports.com

 

Published 3/19/24

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Whippets are a Team

 

          Shelby has eight seniors on its roster and they will take that experience with them as they travel to Dayton this weekend to play in the schools first ever final four.

          They meet Maysville in a division II state semifinal.  A win would mean playing either Kettering Alter or Youngstown Ursuline for a state championship on Sunday.

          The farthest a Shelby boys’ basketball team had advanced prior to this season was the regional final in 1957 when they were led by the late Larry Siegfried.

          Think of that, that was 67 years ago.  Dwight Eisenhower was President, McDonald’s had one restaurant in the country and my parents, who are 81, were in junior high.

          Coach Greg Gallaway believes a real key to the Whippets success is the continuity of their senior class.  “All eight of our seniors, they're just so close and tight knit and then they bring everyone else along.  I think when you look at teams that make these runs one thing that a lot of schools have in common is, that's consistent, is the seniors.  As coaches we recognize that,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We try to let them figure that out.  Good teams can be coach led, great teams are player led.  One thing that's for certain is this team is player led.  So, credit to our guys keeping each other accountable day in and day out and that's a big reason why we're going down to Dayton this week.”

          When speaking to other coaches this season that were playing Shelby, they talked about how difficult it was to get the ball out of the hands of a 6’7” point guard in NW district co-player of the year Alex Bruskotter.

          In their regional semifinal win over Lima Shawnee (59-50), Bruskotter scored three straight times in the lane when the Whippets put it away with a (10-2) run.  He scored 13 of his game high 27 points in the fourth quarter of their (55-46) win over Lutheran West in the regional final.  He had four assists, team highs, in both games.

          Bruskotter says he has to understand the flow of the game.  “That's one of the things about being a point guard is you have to balance what you should do.  You want to get your teammates involved, you want to try to get yours and I guess it just depends on different times in the game.  I like to get others involved early and just kind of get everyone comfortable in the game first and then if things start opening up for me then obviously, I'll take that, but just kind of depends on the situation,” said Bruskotter.

          Bruskotter is a candidate for Mr. Basketball in Ohio and scored 53 points in game against Ashland this year.

          However, he knows a good pass is going to mean two points for the Whippets.  “I really haven't had to take over games this year because I know what they can do.  Obviously, I've been playing with them for a while.  So, I mean I know they're comfortable in these tight situations.  I know I can trust them that they'll get a bucket or get a stop.  I mean it's easy for me to be comfortable situations knowing that I have these guys by my side,” he said.

 

Published 3/19/24

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