The Ohio High School Baseball Season officially starts this weekend (Saturday, March 29). Here’s who we see opening as the state’s top teams in each division.
Division III Preseason Poll
No. 1 Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
Entering this spring, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy is once again a heavy favorite in Division III. Coming off a 24-7 season (bowing out in the regional semifinals with a loss to their nemesis Hamilton Badin, 1-0), 1st year head coach Jeff Keith expects big things from his squad in 2014. The Eagles have won nine straight NBC titles.
Talented seniors include:
- RHP/SS, Cameron Varga (pictured) – The 6-3, 205-pound University of North Carolina recruit has a fastball that gets up to 96 mph. The talented prospect originally gave a verbal commitment to the Florida Gators as an infield prospect, so don’t sleep on his skills in the infield or at the plate. Varga went 8-2 with a 0.22 ERA and 148 Ks in 64 innings of work.
- 3B/C, Kyle Davis – Last year Davis hit .446 with a .541 OBP and 18 doubles. Davis is committed to West Virginia.
- 1B/3B/RHP, Ricky Silvestri – The 6-0, 190-pound import from Arkansas is a corner infield type with a power bat from the left side. Silvestri is committed to Mars Hill (North Carolina).
- RHP, Blake Swanger – The 6-3, 175-pound righty shows good development on the mound and posted a 1.56 ERA while striking out 43 batters in 27 innings of work. Swanger is committed to Denison.
The 2015/2016 classes include:
- SS, Cameron Murray (2015, pictured, ranked 78) – The 5-10, 140-pound infielder started and lead off for CHCA last spring. He hit .395 with 19 SB while showing advanced infield skills for his age.
- RHP/C/OF, Graham Lally (2015, ranked 174) – Hit .355 last season in a limited number of plate appearances and 1.50 ERA in 9 innings.
- RHP, Tommy Yates (2015) – The submarine pitcher has a low 80s fastball and will provide a different look on the mound.
- C/OF, Chase Murray (2016) – The talented youngster hit .355 last season and is getting some big time offers.
No. 2 Hamilton Badin High School
Hamilton Badin and head coach Brion Treadway finished runner-up last season as they fell to Bloom-Carroll in the state semifinals 3-2, as seen here.
Columbus is where Badin feels at home as the Rams have been to the state tournament five times since 2000 and 11 times total, and coach Treadway feels “We (Badin) expect to compete for a state title every year and this year is no different.”
The Rams return six starters from last season and four pitchers. Badin will be led by:
- 1 Zack Gray, 1B, 2014, 6’3″-220, L/L, .375 Avg., 32 RBI, 1 HR, Olney Junior College Commit
- 2 Alex Holderbach, INF, 2015, 6’0”-180, R/R, .354 Avg., 24 RBI, 6 2B, 7 SB
- 3 Corey Reimer, OF, 2014, 5’7″-155, R/R, .254 Avg., 14 SB
- 4 Matt Kreke, OF, 2014, 5’11”-180, L/R, .329 Avg., 11 SB
- 5 Cameron Mohr, P, 2014, 5’10”-185, R/R, 4-1, 36.2 IP, 2.29 ERA
- 6 Dustin Valentino, P/DH, 2015, 6’0″-205, R/R, .545 Avg
A few underclassmen to keep an eye on would be sophomores Cole Heflin (OF), Logan Heintzman (OF/RHP) and Josh Jarvis (OF/LHP)
No. 3 Wheelersburg High School
The Pirates have been one of the more dominate programs of late, reaching state four years in a row and five times since 2008.
Wheelersburg loses its ace in Derek Moore, who finished his career 36-0 and is now at Shawnee State. To make up for the loss of Moore, Wheelersburg will reload with talented junior Wade Martin (6-2, RHP, ranked 75th, pictured right), who has pitched at state as a freshman and a sophomore. Two other key contributors to the state championship were seniors Garrett Carmichael (SS, ranked 144, pictured left) and Dylan Miller (C/OF).
Other returning lettermen include seniors Cameron Parsley (2B), Austin Stevenson (OF), Nick Marshall (P/INF), Nathan Jones (OF) and Sam Robinson (OF/C), as well as juniors Zach Russell (P/C), Tristan Browning (P/OF), Austin May (UTIL) and Jacob Roe (P/OF).
No. 4 New Middletown Springfield High School
The New Middletown Springfield Tigers and head coach Matt Weymer had an impressive 2013 campaign, falling one game short of a state championship in division IV. Springfield fell to Newark Catholic in the D-IV state championship as seen here.
With the move up to D-III, the Tigers and their six returning starters are ready for the challenge. New Middletown Springfield has been to Columbus numerous times over the past few years, finishing state runner-up in 2009, 11 and 13 (all D-IV).
Projected lineup for the Tigers:
- 1 Hunter Snyder, C, Jr. 5’9 155 (.345 BA, 21 runs, 21 RBIs, extremely good defensive catcher)
- 2 Dalton Donachie, SS/P, Jr. 5’8 145 (returning ace, 7-1, 2.35 ERA, sits mid 80s, Excellent command of all three pitches and a true workhorse, .333 BA).
- 3 Ryan Kohler (pictured right), CF, Jr. 5’10 160 (.376 BA, 28 runs, 8 doubles, 5 triples, 20 SB, one of the top players last season at the state tournament as seen here)
- 4 Brandon Chamberlain, 3B/P, Jr., 6’3 185 (Full of raw potential)
- 5 Joey Wrask, 1B, Sr., 6’0 195 (.360 BA, middle of the lineup, power hitter)
- 6 James Hillyer, P/DH, Sr., 6’0, 185 (.475 BA, 30 Ks, 25.2 innings, best arm on the team, mid-to-upper 80s fastball with great movement. Used primarily out of the bullpen. Also brings tremendous extra base pop to the plate)
- 7 Jordon Peterson, P/2B, Jr., 5’10 160 (2.37 ERA, started the regional and state championship games last year as a sophomore. Gritty pitcher who uses pinpoint command to get hitters out. Will also be counted on to play a larger offensive role this year)
- 8 Graham Mincher, RF, So., 5’10 150 (fantastic athlete who does everything well…will be used frequently on the mound)
- 9 Ian Grdina, LF, Jr., 5’9 150
Projected pitchers for the Tigers:
- 1 Dalton Donachie, SS/P, Jr. 5’8 145
- 2 James Hillyer, P/DH, Sr., 6’0, 185
- 3 Jordon Peterson, P/2B, Jr., 5’10 160
- 4 Mark Schuler, P/3B, Jr., 6’4 210
Some notable underclassmen include , Luke Frye (Jr, 2B) experienced hitter that will provide valuable pop off the bench and in other key situations and Russell Seymour (Fr, RHP), who is a young pitcher with tons of potential.
No. 5 Youngstown Ursuline High School
Youngstown Ursuline had an outstanding 2013 season, finishing with a 24-3 record, but the Fighting Irish fell to Wheelersburg in an incredible state semifinal match-up, as seen here.
Ursuline will have to reload after losing seven seniors from last years ball club. However, the Fighting Irish are accustomed to reloading and having success doing so. Ursuline has been to state eight times and six times since 2000, so expect the Fighting Irish to be in the mix once tournament time comes around.
Returning lettermen include seniors Tannor Berry (OF), Nick Revak (INF/P), Zach Scheets (C), Michael Montallbano (OF), Joe Carrier (INF), Ray Klempay (OF) and Dion Felger (INF/P). Returning underclassmen include juniors Joel Hake (INF/P, ranked 107 in 2015 class, pictured right), Bobby Dulay (INF/P), Zach Patton (OF) and sophomore Drew Postesta (C).