XENIA — There’s plenty of new faces from all kinds of places on the 2018 Xenia Scouts summer college baseball roster.
Not a single player on the current 24-man roster had played on the Scouts last season.
Thursday’s practice session at the Athletes In Action Sports Complex’s Grady’s Field was just as much a getting acquainted session as it was a chance to finally work together and have some fun on the ball diamond.
The players hail from Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Tennessee, Michigan, Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Georgia and Colorado, from colleges of all sizes.
Xenia finished third in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s South Division last season. In 2016, they won the GLSCL South title.
While it’s still early in the acclimation process, Scouts General Manager David Gnau said the 2018 players remind him a lot of that 2016 title winning bunch.
“The guys came in and they all seem to be chompin’ at the bit to work out and get going,” he said. “That 2016 team was kind of the same way. Last year’s team was kind of quiet. This team’s a little quiet, but not like that team. The 2016 team was a good mix of guys, and this seems like just as good of a mix this year.”
Athletes In Action fields four college summer league teams each season. The top Division I and Major League prospects compete for AIA’s team in Alaska, with several Division I, II and III players selected to play for Xenia. Third level players are sent to an AIA team in the New York area, and then the fourth team players play for AIA’s squad in a Panama-Guatemala league.
Gnau considers the GLSCL one of the top-5 summer college baseball leagues in the country.
“Fans have the chance to see some of the nation’s top college baseball players play right here on Grady’s Field,” Gnau said. “The players we have here are not too far away from being on our team in Alaska. They’re that good.”
Earlier on Thursday, Gnau revealed to the players that they’d be playing in an Old-time Baseball game, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 8 at Grady’s Field.
“The players weren’t aware of the game until we started dropping hints today,” Gnau said. “Usually the pitchers on staff don’t bat in games, so when we informed them that they would be batting they had a good idea that something was up.”
For at least the third consecutive year, the Xenia Scouts will play host to an Old-time Baseball Game against one of the area’s vintage baseball clubs. This year, the Scouts’ opponent will be the Eastwood Iron Horses, a Dayton area team from the Vintage Baseball Association, that plays baseball according to 1860s rules.
Former University of Tennessee-Martin coaching standout Bubba Cates returns as manager of the Scouts. This 2018 team has eight sophomores, six seniors, four freshmen, three juniors and two graduated players.
After the Scouts finish playing 19th Century baseball on Friday, they’ll open GLSCL play at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, June 9 for a road game against the Hamilton Joes at Foundation Field. Xenia’s first scheduled league home game will be at 4:05 p.m. Sunday, June 10 when the Scouts will host the Joes at Grady’s Field.
A season ago, the 15-member GLSCL was divided up into three divisions. During the offseason, one of the Central Division teams (the Lorain County Ironmen) moved to a northern Ohio U22 league, and so the remaining Central teams were divided up between the North and South divisions.
Xenia plays in the GLSCL’s South along with Hamilton, Richmond (Ind.), Southern Ohio, Cincinnati. Licking County and Galion will join the South, while defending league champion Lima and Grand Lake join the North.