Ottoville's baseball team was just 10-13 last season.
Despite the record, the Big Green made quite a run in the postseason. Ottoville reached the district semifinals where it lost to Minster, the No. 1 team in the state.
No one should be surprised if Ottoville makes another deep tournament run this spring, especially considering that it has a solid pitching staff.
Lone senior Colbey Basinger is the ace of that staff. He was 4-1 a year ago.
“He is our top hitter and pitcher. This is his team,” Ottoville head coach Tony Castranova said. “He will be our leader and I'm expecting him to have a great season.”
Pitching is expected to be a strength for the Big Green, which will open its season on April 1 against county rival Ottawa-Glandorf.
“We have young pitchers with experience this year and that will give us good depth at the position,” Castranova said. “We have guys who will throw strikes and give us a chance to win games.”
There are five juniors on the team who are expected to be key contributors for the Big Green. The group includes junior Andrew Koch, who hit .485 last year and helped anchor the pitching staff.
Alex Odenweller, Jacob Landin , Matt Niemeyer and David Wurst are the other juniors for Ottoville.
“They know how to play the game and they will start for us,” Castranova said. “They work hard and they enjoy the game.”
Ottoville did lose four talented seniors to graduation but have several newcomers ready to step up, including sophomore left-hander Jordan Schimmoeller.
“We have some very good players who I believe will be able to help us. They are baseball-savvy,” Castranova said. “The toughest thing for us is going to be replacing four everyday starters. We have players who are capable of stepping up. The key for them is adjusting to playing at this level.”
As for the PCL, Ottoville was 3-4 last season but is confident it has a chance to contend for the league championship.
“The PCL is always tough but a lot of the top players graduated and so I don't think there is going to be a clear-cut favorite. No one is going to dominate the league and hopefully we play well enough to be in every game and give ourselves a chance to compete for the title.”
Life wasn't easy for Ottoville's softball team a year ago. The Big Green were just 4-14.
There is hope for a better 2008 campaign, although Ottoville will have to do it with just one experienced senior, catcher/infielder Jill Hohlbein, on the roster.
Focusing on the simple aspects of the game will be key to the Big Green's success.
“We have to focus on the basics,” Ottoville head coach Joe Modica said. “We have to stress making contact with the ball, base-running and defense.”
The Big Green do have four juniors who are expected to play a vital role in the team's success.ace
Abby Krouskop (centerfield/infield), Adria Wannemacher (shorstop), Amy Hohlbein (first base) and Brooke Koester (third base) are returning players for Ottoville, which opens its season April 1 in a road tilt against Wayne Trace.
Sophomore Sam Modica will be the ace starting picher for the Big Green.
Modica said he is hoping his team can use smart baserunning to win games.
“In the past we have always done a good job of running the bases,” Modica said. “We have done that by taking advantage of mistakes the other team makes. Hopefully we can do that again this year.”
Other players who will be expected to step up for the Big Green are Gina Beining and Crystal Schumaker, seniors who are on the team for the first time. Both players will see time in the infield and outfield.
Others on the team are junior Misty Justice and freshmen Brooke Moore and Taylor Moore. All three are expected to be in the lineup on a daily basis and have the ability to play in the field or pitch.
“We will go into the season trying to get better in each game,” Modica said. “We will work hard and have some fun, too.”