XENIA — The sounds of palms smacking mitts and balls pinging off bats return on Saturday when regular season baseball play may begin in Ohio.
Greene County teams will have several fresh faces leading some experienced groups this season. And the area should have several contenders to make a run in the postseason.
Here is a breakdown for all nine area schools:
(Statistics from 2020-21)
* denotes canceled 2020 season included
2020-21: 26-4, 12-2 GWOC (1st), lost to Cincinnati Elder 3-0 in district finals
Coach: Brandon Long (184-81, 12th year*)
Players to watch: Blake Werry, Sr. (58.1IP, 7-0 W-L, 2SHO, 1SV, 82K, 1.68ERA, 0.891WHIP); Mitchell Roether, Sr. (.403AVG/.520OBP, 27R, 6HR, 33RBI, 3SB, .982FLD%); Sean McCray, Sr. (.411/.495, 27R, 1HR, 23RBI, 9SB, .950 FLD%); Austin Paplios, Jr. (.235/.361, 9R, 11RBI, 2SB, .971FLD%), Owen Tedder, Sr. (.200/.345, 13R, 3RBI, 1SB), Austin Scarberry, Sr. (9.1IP, 1-1 W-L, 8K, 3.75ERA, 1.714 WHIP); CJ Barnes, Jr. (.188/.386, 9R, 4RBI, 1SB)
Outlook: A lot to replace, but the talent is there to do so. Beavercreek will have the league’s leading returner in home runs and ERA. How much pitching will pick up behind No. 1 in the rotation in a question mark. Roether and Werry both are PBR preseason All-Ohio D-I honorable mention selections.
Bellbrook Golden Eagles
2020-21: 17-10, 6-6 SWBL SW (3rd), lost to Valley View 4-1 in sectional tournament
Coach: Jon Venters (30-24, 4th year*)
Players to watch: Caleb Fugate, Sr. (.301AVG/.402OBP, 15R, 12RBI, 14SB, 21.1IP, 1-3 W-L, 16K, 3.94ERA); Ethan Jenkins, Sr. (38.1IP, 3-4 W-L, 34K, 274ERA, .219/.390, 14R, 1HR, 9RBI, 8SB); Luke Driskell, Jr. (24.1IP, 4-1 W-L, 29K, 2.01ERA, .163/.305, 9R, 1HR, 6RBI, 7SB); Bennett LaPalm, Jr. (.256/.337, 18R, 9RBI, 5SB, 18.2IP, 1-1 W-L, 1SV, 19K, 3.00ERA); Brayden Hubbell, Jr. (.246/.386, 8R, 10RBI, 5SB, 14.1IP, 1-0 W-L, 3SV, 6K, 1.95ERA); Will Culbertson, Sr. (.271/.420, 14R, 2HR, 14RBI, 9SB); Drew Diorio, Sr. (.200/.397, 12R, 4RBI, 10SB)
Outlook: Returns majority of pitching staff and should be a favorite to win the league. Jenkins and LaPalm both are preseason D-II honorable mention selections.
2020-21: 13-15, 5-7 GCL (6th), District Champions, lost to Marengo Highland 9-3 in regional semifinals
Coach: TR Smart (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Michael Duckro, Jr. (.341/.455, 22R, 14RBI, 4SB, 41IP, 2-4 W-L, 2SV, 37K, 4.10ERA); Caleb Cavender, Sr. (.312AVG/.481OBP, 18R, 2HR, 28RBI, 4SB, 21IP, 0-3 W-L, 14K, 9ERA); Jacob Cavender, Sr. (22.1IP, 2-3 W-L, 16K, 4.70ERA, 1.881WHIP, .171/.250, 7R, 2RBI 1SB, .947FLD%); Jackson Malesko, Sr. (.247/.379, 12R, 17RBI, 2SB, .965FLD%); Shane Ochs, Sr. (.301/.500, 25R, 9RBI, 10SB, 8IP, 1-2 W-L, 5K, 7.00ERA); John Lawhorn, Sr. (23.1IP, 1-0 W-L, 2SV, 13K, 3.00EA, 1.414WHIP)
Outlook: Young team made a late season tournament run last year for outgoing coach Mike Sheets. Building off that experience, the Patriots should be a formidable opponent in all phases of the game.
2020-21: 19-12, 12-7 OHC South (2nd), District Champions, lost to Fort Loramie 9-1 in regional semifinals
Coach: Dakota Snyder (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Caden McKinion, Sr. (.453AVG/.551OBP, 27R, 1HR, 24RBI, 9SB, 50IP, 7-2 W-L, 2SV, 3SHO, 65K, 2.38 ERA, 1.100WHIP); Mason Johnson, So. (.374/.396, 9R, 29RBI, 2SB, 21.2IP, 1-2 W-L, 11K, 4.53ERA, 1.569WHIP); Gunner Gannon, Sr., (.313/.472, 37R, 7RBI, 8SB); James Dray, So. (20IP, 1-1 W-L, 10K, 4.55ERA, 1.450WHIP, .176/.300, 2R, 4RBI); Braydon Criswell, So. (.326/.421, 11R, 21RBI, 5SB), Tyler Cross, So. (.246/.347, 17R, 3RBI, 9SB, 10.1IP, 1-0 W-L, 12K, 3.39ERA, 1.839WHIP)
Outlook: Returns the league’s player of the year in McKinion and also has the supporting pieces to put together another strong season. Cedarville will give itself a mid-season test during a showcase event in Chillicothe. McKinion was selected as a preseason D-IV second-team player.
2020-21: 9-17, 7-11 MVL Valley (2nd), lost 3-1 to Sidney in sectional tournament
Coach: Dennis Bliss (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Jimmy Butler, Sr. (.135AVG/.220OBP, 4R, 4RBI, 2B; 21IP, 0-2 W-L, 19K, 7.33ERA); Jordan Taylor, Sr. (10.2IP, 2-1 W-L, 9K, 8.53 ERA); Parker Keeton, Jr. (.211/.348, 2RBI, 5IP, 4K, 2.80 ERA); Logan Brunk, Sr. (.139/.340, 4R, 1RBI, 4SB); Korbin Long, Jr. (.133/.350, 3R, 1SB)
Outlook: Majority of production graduated and leaves fresh crop of players taking to the diamond. Will need to overcome the small amounts of experience playing at varsity level.
2020-21: 15-10, 10-6 OHC South (1st), lost to Springfield Shawnee 4-1 in sectional tournament
Coach: John-Marc Brooks (15-10, 2nd year)
Players to watch: Keegan Phillips, So. (41IP, 4-2 W-L, 86K, 2SHO, 1.02ERA, 1.000WHIP, .303AVG/.455OBP, 22R, 11RBI, 3SB, .935FLD%); Jarrod Mays, Jr. (.410/.484, 19R, 22RBI, 1SB, 8.2IP, 1-0W-L, 9K, 5.65ERA, .977FLD%); Hunter Brooks, Jr. (.280/.355, 21R, 16RBI, 4SB, 25.2IP, 2-3 W-L, 17K, 3.00ERA, .956FLD%); Benjamin Myers, Jr. (.358/.396, 12R, 16RBI, 8SB); Logan Sandlin, Jr. (13.1IP, 2-0 W-L, 15K, 1.58ERA, 1.275WHIP)
Outlook: A young group coming in with more experience after a league title could be an issue the OHC both this year and next. Phillips could be one of the county’s best for years to come and is preseason D-III honorable mention along with Mays.
Legacy Christian Knights
2020-21: 6-13, 5-5 MBC (4th), lost to Southeastern 1-0 in sectional tournament
Coach: Shawn Hershner (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Adam Newell, So. (.404AVG/.446OBP, 14R, 1HR, 13RBI, 1SB, 46.1IP, 2-3 W-L, 60K, 2.42ERA, 1.144WHIP), Michael Wallen, Sr. (.224/.309, 3R, 7RBI) Dillon Campbell, So. (.200/.333, 2R, 1HR, 4RBI); Michael Little, So. (.148/.281, 4R, 5RBI, 3SB); Eli Campbell, So. (.100/.217, 2R, 2BI)
Outlook: Getting consistent innings after the top of the rotation may be key to a successful campaign. Improving from either a .306 slugging percentage or 22 stolen bases could improve the offense.
2020-21: 7-21, 5-13 MVL Valley (4th), lost to Springfield 3-2 in sectional tournament
Coach: Brandon Salyers (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Evan Harbison, Sr. (.247AVG/.351OBP, 13R, 6RBI, 5SB); Sam Prindle, Sr. (.250/.379, 4R, 10RBI); Ethan Williamson, Jr. (.239/.338, 8R, 5RBI, 1SB, 18.1IP, 0-2 W-L, 1SV, 18K, 4.20 ERA, .946FLD%); Zach Salyers, Jr. (.314/.364, 8R, 10RBI); Aaron Adkins, Sr. (.188/.319, 7R, 5RBI, 5SB; 23IP, 0-5 W-L, 17K, 6.39ERA); Nate Fellie, Jr. (.231/.333, 8R, 3RBI, 8SB; .929FLD%); Blayke Dudley, Sr. (7.2IP, 0-0 W-L, 7K, 5.48 ERA)
Outlook: A good core could lead to some breakout seasons for the Bucs. Need to find a consistent middle of the order hitter.
Yellow Springs Bulldogs
2020-21: 1-21, 0-10 MBC (6th), lost to Cedarville 19-0 in sectional tournament
Coach: Mitch Clark (1-21, 2nd year)
Players to watch: Krishan Miller, Jr. (.279AVG/.456OBP, 7R, 7RBI, 6SB, 35.1IP, 1-6 W-L, 35K, 10.50ERA); Jake Ortiz-Thornton, So. (.213/.269, 7R, 6RBI, 9SB, 10.2IP, 0-2 W-L, 9K, 26.90ERA); Isaac Grushon, So. (.214/.365, 4R, 6RBI, 2SB), 17.2IP 0-5 W-L, 19K, 20.20ERA); Joshua Clark, Jr. (19IP, 0-5 W-L, 21K, 10.68ERA, .189/.400, 3R, 4RBI, 5SB); Eli Eyrich, Sr. (.180/.369, 7R, 10SB); Noah VanHoose, Sr. (.154/.313, 2R, 9.2IP, 0-1 W-L, 14K, 19.55ERA)
Outlook: A team made up almost entirely of freshman and sophomores last year will look to gain more experience on the field.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.