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 II Preseason Poll
No. 1 Defiance
The Defiance Bulldogs and head coach Tom Held captured the 2013 state championship as seen here. This was the first state championship for Defiance since 1992. Defiance went 31-1 and has averaged over 25 wins and just under four losses since Tom Held took over the program in 1999. Coach Held is 386-59 in his 15 seasons at the helm for the Bulldogs. Defiance’s assistant coach Rick Weaver (hitting/outfield coach) even got recognized in 2013 as he won the assistant coach of the year award by the OHSBCA. Defiance also has a 68-game win streak in the Western Buckeye League, against the likes of Wapakoneta, Ottawa-Glandorf, Lima Bath and Lima Shawnee among others.
Enough about 2013, it’s 2014 now, and why should Defiance be ranked number one to start the season? Here a few reasons, one pitcher sits upper 80s-low 90s, two pitchers mid-to-upper 80s, one mid 80s and another low-to-mid 80s. 54 stolen bases are back from last season and the Bulldogs won the ACME state tournament in the summer.
However, the Bulldogs did lose a lot from last year and will have to reload. Robert Zeigler (0.45 ERA, .437 BA), Weston Rivers (0.31 ERA), Joe Keween, Dom Romero, Austin Yant, Drake Jimenez, Mazen Kanouh, Ethan Willitzer, Wade Verhoff, and Alek Smith all graduated and Adam Schaffer (OF, .390 BA, big time hockey recruit) has decided to not play this spring.
Defiance is led by a group of experienced seniors:
- Austin Hancock, SS/RHP, .385, 23 RBIs, 22 SB 3-1, 1.42 ERA, sits mid-to-upper 80s, with great changeup, Olney JUCO commit, ranked 27 in Ohio and 203 overall in the 2014 class, pictured above to left.
- Dom Gentile, INF, .383, 19 RBIs, 24 SB, unsigned senior who is ranked 153 in the 2014 class, outstanding defender, picture above to left.
- Derek Turner, MIF/RHP, .286, 16 RBIs, 5-0 0.29 ERA, mid-to-upper 80s with good offspeed, Sinclair CC commit, ranked in the 2014 class, pictured above to the right.
- Jacob Green, RHP/OF, sits mid-80s with the fastball and has a nasty 12/6 curve. unsigned senior, ranked in the 2014 class, pictured right.
Some talented underclassmen include.
- Michael Hendricks, RHP, junior, ranked 28 in Ohio and 201 overall in the 2015 class, sits upper 80s-low 90s with the fastball, pictured below to right.
- Shay Smiddy, RHP/INF, sophomore, sits low-80s with the fastball.
- Gage Cordray, C, junior, will be look upon in a leadership role as well as in the middle of the order.
- Jimmy Bauer, OF/1B, junior, will be in the middle of the lineup, ranked 201 in the 2015 class.
- Garrett Sierra, MIF, junior, solid defender, will be looked upon to provide speed on the bases and good defense.
- Wes Detter, OF, junior, good defensive outfielder and solid athlete WR in football and PG in basketball.
No. 2 Bloom-Carroll
Head coach Brian Thacker and Bloom-Carroll move up to division II after finishing runner-up in division III in 2013 as seen here. The Bulldogs finished the 2013 season with a 26-6, 13-1 Mid State Conference record.
The Bulldogs return six starters and five pitchers led by University of Louisville commit Sam Bordner (6-6, 215-pound, ranked number three in the 2015 class and number eight overall, pictured right).
Other top returning Bulldogs include:
- Jarrett Peters, Sr, C, 5’10 185 R/R (committed to Seton Hall University)
- Corey Stanley, Jr, P, 5’10 160 L/R
- Roger Danison, Jr, OF, 6’0 175 L/R (ranked number 17 in 2015 class and 150 overall, pictured left)
- Seth Paszke, So, OF/1B, 5’11 190 L/R
- Tristen Epp, Jr, OF/P, 5’10 175 L/L (ranked 52 in the 2015 class)
- Scott Baker, Sr, INF/RHP, 6’1, 180 R/R, (ranked 296 in 2014 class)
A few sophomore to keep an eye on are Jacob Robinson (P/INF) and Alex Seagraves (P/INF).
No. 3 Tipp City Tippecanoe
Tipp City Tippecanoe and head coach Bruce Cahill were one game away from state in 2013, falling to Plain City Jonathan Alder 3-0 in the regional finals.The Red Devils finished with a 28-5, 14-2 CBC record last season.
The Red Devils have six returning starters and three pitchers led by a trio of seniors in:
- Ben Hughes, Unsigned senior, Ranked 53, 4-year starter RHP/3B 5-11, 170-pound, 8-1, 0.81 ERA, .429 batting average, 42 hits, 30 RBIs, 18 SB, pictured above to right.
- Cameron Johnson, SS, 4-year starter, 6-0, 175-pound, 3-0, 4 saves, 1.08 ERA, .330 batting average, 31 hits, 22 BB, leadoff hitter–great glove at short.
- BJ Donathan, committed to Kings University, Catcher, 3-year starter, .313 batting average, 25 hits, 19 BB and 20 RBIs.
Coach Cahill also has talented underclassmen that look to contribute this season:
- Zack Blair, Jr, 5-11,165 R/R, 2nd baseman, 3-year starter, .333 batting average, 32 hits, 19 BB. Great glove at 2nd. Will also pitch some, ranked 161 in the 2015 class, pictured above to right.
- Cole Quillen, Jr, 5-11, L/L 165 Pitcher, OF, 3-year starter, 5-1, 1.89 ERA, Very solid bat, ranked 61 in the 2015 class, pictured right.
- Austin Clack, Jr, 6-1, 200, R/R, OF, Hit, .333 as a sophomore.
- Evan Gilliam Jr, C, 1B 6-0, 170 good hitter and throws well behind the plate.
- Justyn Eichbaum, Fr, 5-11, 170 R/R Will pitch and play outfield for us. Great skills for a freshman
- Nathan Shirley, Fr, 1B, C 6-2, 170 Bats L Throws R Solid player
- Mitchel Fischer, Fr, 2B/OF, 6-0, 160 R/R Good skills
No. 4 Wauseon
Head coach Trent Thomas and Wauseon had a disappointing end to a very successful 2013 campaign. The Indians fell in the sectional finals 3-0 to the hands of Andy Fisher and the Bowling Green Bobcats to finish the 2013 season with a 18-5. 8-0 NWOAL record.
The top players for Wauseon include:
- Ty Suntken, SS/P, 5’10” 185, R-R, 4-year starter, 33 hits, 25 RBIs, 36 Runs, 4 HR, .446 BA, .533 OBP.
- Axel Bueter, OF/P, 6’0″ 175, R-L, 3-year starter, 26 Hits, 1HR, 26 RBIs, 20 Runs, .356 BA, .448 OBP, 3-2, 3.78 ERA, 29 Ks.
- Clay Tefft, 3B/P, 6’0″ 185, R-R, 3-year starter, committed to Shawnee State University, .263 BA, .482 OBP, Pitching 1-1, 2.92 ERA, ranked number 244 in 2014 class.
- Nate Suntken, Jr, OF/P, 5’11” 190, R-R, .385 BA, .467 OBP, Pitching 2.80 ERA, Mid 80s fastball, will see more innings in 2014, ranked number 59 in the 2015 class, brother of Ty, pictured right.
- Josh Kauffman, Jr, C, 6’0” 190, R-R, .308 BA, .438 OBP
- Jacob Newlove, Jr, IF/P, 6’3” 195, R-R, .355 BA, .429 OBP
A few underclassmen that could make an impact in 2014 are Collin Stump (1B/LHP), JJ Kaufman (INF/RHP) and Brady Rupp (OF/RHP).
No. 5 Canton South
Canton South and head coach Trent McIlvey went 24-5 in 2013, falling to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney 8-4 in the regional semifinals. The Wildcats also won the Northern Buckeye Conference with a 12-2 record.
The Wildcats have won the league and districts two years in a row and return eight position players and four pitchers from last season, and are ready for a long tournament run. Canton South will be led by the top overall player in the 2015 class, DJ Wilson (Vanderbilt commit, CF/LHP, number one ranked player in the 2015 class for Ohio and number four overall, pictured right).
Coach McIlvey feels the Wildcats strengths include their depth on the mound, they are offensively sound and are a very experience ball club.
The Wildcats projected starters include:
- Conner Thomson, C, JR, L/R, 5’9″ 160 (UNC-Charlotte commit, 2nd team all League, ranked 23 in 2015 class, pictured right)
- Garrett Crum, 1b/RHP, JR, 6’2″ 200
- Preston May, 2b, SR, 6′ 155
- Damon Wade, SS, SR, 5’10” 155 (unsigned senior, all league 2012-13)
- Cody Stickel, 3b/RHP, JR, 6’1″ 175 (2nd team all league)
- Austin Ness, LF, JR, 5’7″ 150
- DJ Wilson, CF/LHP, JR, 5’8″ 160 (All Ohio 2013)
- Alex Porter, RF, SR, 5’8″ 160
- Jake Newell, RHP, SR, 6’1″ 170
The Wildcats projected pitching rotation: