Southwest Ohio Huddle: 700 wins, 24 straight conference titles, Notre Dame and Place coaching where?


Southwest Ohio Huddle

What a journey it has been for Mason baseball coach Ken Gray. The Comets coach since 1975, Gray has coached in hundreds of
games and on April 20 he
reached 700 career wins – a milestone that just five other Ohio coaches
have in the entire state. That’s not the only memorable feat achieved in Southwest Ohio this past week…here’s more…

What a journey it has been for Mason baseball coach Ken Gray.

As the Mason head coach since 1975, Gray has coached in hundreds of games over the past couple of decades. On Tuesday, April 20, Gray reached 700 career wins – a milestone that just five other Ohio coaches have in the entire state.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good players and coaches over the years,” Gray told the Pulse Journal. “I didn’t think I’d be here this long, but the players and relationships are what keep you going. We’ve had some success and that’s what means something to you.”

Middletown coach Jason Cave told the Pulse Journal that he has a great deal of respect for Gray.

“It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Cave told the publication. “…It’s a major achievement. I tip my hat to him.”

According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association website, Don Thorp (Hebron Lakewood), Mike Cameron (Moeller), Timothy Engleka (Centerville), Lou Brunswick (Coldwater) and Rich Arbinger (Toledo Start) are the only other baseball coaches to reach 700 wins.

Mason has won 18 conference titles, 14 sectional titles, seven district titles, a regional title and a state runner-up finish while Gray has been head coach. The Mason High School athletic department said Gray has sent several players to the college level and four have played at the pro level.

Mason held a brief ceremony honoring Gray’s achievement before the start of Wednesday’s home game against Fairfield.

Gray, an Eastern Kentucky graduate, lives in Mason and is an avid golfer.


Brittany Fernandez, Hamilton Ross: The senior pitcher helped Ross win its 24th consecutive FAVC conference title on Wednesday as the Rams defeated host Oxford Talawanda 4-3. Fernandez struck out seven battlers to earn her eighth win, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fernandez has a 10-3 record with 99 strikeouts and four shutouts as of the start of this week. She had a 1.72 ERA. She was also hitting .547 with seven doubles and 20 RBI. Ross plays at Northwest at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.


Liberty Township Lakota East boys volleyball team: Lakota East won four consecutive matches to finish last week. At the start of this week, the Thunderhawks were 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the Greater Miami Conference. Lakota East was scheduled to play Elder on Monday and will host Lakota West at 7 p.m. today. Lakota East plays host to Middletown at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Thunderhawks’ wins last week came against three GMC opponents, including Princeton, Sycamore and Oak Hills. “We have been trying to find our rhythm throughout the season and I feel like we finally have,” Lakota East coach Faber Fields said. “We can play with any team in the region or state, and we are a very exciting team to watch.” The Lakota East leaders have included Mitch Williams (72 kills), Rio Onuki (57 kills) and Mike Hoekstra (34 kills). “We bring a relentless defense with a powerful and fast offense which has made us pretty successful so far,” Fields said.


Grace commits to Notre Dame: Cincinnati Colerain junior middle linebacker Jarrett Grace (6-4, 238) orally committed to Notre Dame on Saturday. Grace had several other scholarship offers, including Cincinnati, Boston College, West Virginia, Stanford and others.

Stieger reaches 300 wins:
Fairfield softball coach Brenda Stieger won her 300th career game on Wednesday as Fairfield defeated host Princeton 11-0. Stieger’s record is 300-84 in 14 seasons with Fairfield.

Coeling commits:
Centerville guard Aaron Coeling (6-2, 305) has committed to Wittenberg, according to the Dayton Daily News.

McDaniel commits:
Franklin High School senior Brandi McDaniel has committed to play women’s basketball at the University Northwestern Ohio. McDaniel is Franklin’s all-time career leading scorer at 1,377 points and the school’s all-time career leading rebounder with 953. She was a four-year starter for Franklin. University of Northwestern Ohio is an NAIA Division II school in Lima.

Leon named St. Ursula coach:
Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy named Jim Leon as its new girls’ basketball coach on Monday.  Leon, a Cincinnati native, has been coaching boys basketball since the 1980s. His stops have included Woodward, Summit Country Day, Western Hills and Clark Montessori. This is the first time Leon will coach girls’ basketball at the varsity level. St. Ursula was 5-16 and 3-7 in the Girls’ Greater Cincinnati League Scarlet division last season.

Place could coach again:
Former Hamilton football coach Jim Place told the Dayton Daily News last week that he might be interested in coaching again. Place, who stepped down from the Hamilton position this offseason, has also coached at Springfield Northwestern, Beavercreek, Stebbins and Middletown, according to the publication. “Coaching is such a huge part of me,” Place told the publication. I’d like to just keep that door open…I want to look where I can give the most back.”

Westrick steps down:
Marion Local boys basketball coach Keith Westrick has reportedly stepped down, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Point guard commits to Urbana:
Yellow Spring point guard Ian Wimberly has committed to play basketball at Urbana, according to the Dayton Daily News. Wimberly averaged 10 points and four assists this past season, according to the publication.


Springfield at Fairmont baseball, 5 p.m. Wednesday: These two teams are scheduled to play for the second time in less than a week. Both teams need a win to stay in contention in the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central division. Fairmont’s pitching was effective last week – a 2.25 team ERA at the end of last week. Alex Lilley (46 strikeouts) and Charlie Jones (34 strikeouts) are among the leaders on the mound. Springfield’s offense is led by Jordan Moore, who was one of the conference leaders last week with a .633 batting average along with seven doubles, 20 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

Hamilton Ross at Northwest baseball, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday:
An intriguing FAVC Scarlet division matchup. Both teams were scheduled to play at Hamilton Ross on Monday afternoon. Ross is led offensively by Casey Vatter, who was hitting .489 with six doubles, 23 RBI and 10 stolen bases at the end of last week. Northwest was led offensively by Justin Carter, who was hitting .484 with 11 doubles, 16 RBI and 16 stolen bases at the end of last week.

Vandalia Butler at Centerville boys’ tennis, 4:15 p.m. Wednesday:
Two of the better teams in the GWOC this season. As the regular season winds down, both teams – Butler in the North and Centerville in the Central – have a legitimate opportunity to win their respective division titles. Among the leaders for both teams are Butler’s Colin Imwalle (No. 1 singles) and Centerville’s Brad Boll (No. 1 singles).

Mason at West Chester Lakota West softball, 4:30 p.m. Friday:
This game will go a long way in determining the Greater Miami Conference title. Two very strong pitchers expected to compete in this game. Mason senior pitcher Christin Miller is having a standout season. She had 90 strikeouts and three shutouts at the end of last week. West pitcher Alex Caudill had 131 strikeouts as of April 22 and six shutouts. This could be a very close game.

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