High school baseball preview

PIQUA — Brad Lavey returns as Piqua baseball coach.

The Indians finished 14-15 overall last year and 9-9 in the MVL.

The seniors include Evan Hensler, Damian Lawson, Anthony Martin and Brayden Offenchbacher.

Offenbacher was 4-3 a year ago with a 3.992 ERA. He had 59 strikeouts in 40 innings.

He batted .280 with four doubles, a triple, 12 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

The junior include Aric Black, Drew Hinkle, Brennan Johns, Peyton Offenbacher, Brady Ouhl, Zane Pratt and Trenton Rudd.

Ouhl was 1-1 on the mound and batted .425 with eight doubles, one triple, 14 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.

Pratt batted .293 with three doubles, 21 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, while Rudd batted .244 with 16 RBIs.

Pratt also had a 2-4 record on the mound with a 1.24 ERA. He had 26 strikeouts in 33 innings.

The sophomores include Mickey Anderson, Mason Davis, Gage Gambill and Zander Mason.

Anderson had four doubles, 11 RBIs and 17 stolen bases as a freshman last year.

Rounding out the roster is freshman Hunter Steinke.

TIPPECANOE

Bryan Gronski takes over for Hall of Fame coach Bruce Cahill this spring.

The Red Devils were 22-8 a year ago and 14-4 in the MVL.

Returning letterwinners include seniors Brayden Bottles, Jacob Bowerman, Braden Clausen, Jakob Kramer and Matt Salmon, juniors Josh Dietz and Max Dunaway and sophomore Landon Turner.

Salmon is coming off an amazing junior season.

He was 10-1 on the mound, with five shutouts.

He had a .493 ERA, with 91 strikeouts in 71 innings. At the plate, he batted .388 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 29 RBIs.

Bottles was 3-2 on the mound with 28 strikeouts in 17 innings. At the plate, he batted .292 with seven doubles, one home run, 18 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Bowerman batted .415 a year ago.

“While only returning a few guys with significant varsity experience from 2021, the coaches are confident that they are reloading with young up and coming talent, paired with upperclassmen that are ready to compete at the highest levels,” Gronski said.

Along with Salmon, Dunaway, Rob Ellis and Preston Zumwall will handle the pitching duties.

Kramer will be the catcher, while Dunaway, Salmon, Turner and Zumwall will all see action in the infield.

Leading the outfielders will be Bottles, Bowerman and Dietz.

TRC

BETHEL

BRANDT — Chase Goulette returns as Bethel baseball coach.

The Bees finished 10-17 overall last season and 6-5 in the CCC.

Returning letterwinners include junior Kyle Brueckman and sophomores Luke Gray and Noah McCann.

The pitching staff will be headed by sophomores Elijah Schroeder, Braylon Schroeder, Luke Gray and Bryce Ballard.

McCann and freshman Evan Goodman will be the catchers, while Brueckman and Braylon Schroeder will be the top infielders.

Gray and sophomore Grant Bean will head up the outfield.

“I am excited to see how fast our young guys are learning to play at the high school level,” Gouelette said. “I am also very pleased with how our older guys are leading by example and setting the tone every day at practice. This is a young team that wants to compete and looks forward to the season, starting with the new conference.”

Bethel is moving from the CCC to the Three Rivers Conference this season.

COVINGTON

Andy Johnson returns for Covington, who finished 9-17 at year ago.

Returning letterwinners include seniors Jensen Wagoner, Kody Nelson, Carter Maxson and Jake Dilley and sophomore Trey Schmelzer.

“Jensen Wagoner and Carter Maxson will pitch the majority of our league games for us this year,” Johnson said. “We have several other experienced pitchers who can start or come in as a reliever when we need them. Our new pitching coach (Trenton Wood) has introduced a new approach to our pitchers, and they are running with it.”

Schmelzer and Michael Hagen will split the catching duties.

“Our new assistant coach (Ethan Garland) has a wealth of catching knowledge he is passing on to all of our catchers, and we have already seen an improvement in their abilities,” Johnson said.

Johnson feels good about Nelson at shortstop and Dilley at the third base.

”Kody Nelson and Jake Dilley will anchor our infield this year,” Johnson said. “We will have multiple guys rotating at first and second base, depending on who is pitching, but those two seniors will provide the leadership for our infield. They have experience, and they know what our expectations are defensively. “

Maxson leads the outfielders.

”Carter Maxson will man centerfield for us when he is not pitching,” Johnson said. “He has great range and a tremendous arm. We are hoping he will lead our younger outfielders with his play on the field this season.”

Johnson sees Troy Christian and Miami East as the favorites in the TRC.

”Everyone is going to be chasing Troy Christian and Miami East in the league this year,” he said. “Our goals are to compete and improve with every game we play this year, and to have a team ready to make a run come tournament time.”

MIAMI EAST

Dean Denlinger returns as coach.

The Vikings were 17-6 a year ago and CCC champs with a 9-2 record.

They will be playing in the Three Rivers Conference this season.

Returning letterwinners include seniors Austin Francis, Gage Butz, Ethan Howell, Jacob Demmitt, Austin Monnin and Nathan Wooley; junior Wesley Nidzkorski and sophomores Connor Apple, Luke Hamaker and Layton Hughes.

Top pitchers include Howell, Francis, Butz, Apple, Hamaker and Wooley.

Francis and Hughes will handle the catching duties, while Apple Hamaker and Butz will lead the infielders.

The top outfielders are Wooley, Demmitt and Butz.

“We want to start and finish the season with a positive team identity and improve on our failures,” Denlinger said. “We want to win the league and finish strong in the tournament.”

MILTON-UNION

Milton-Union is coming off a 7-15 season and moves from the SWBL to the TRC.

Nathan Morter returns as coach.

Returning letterwinners include seniors Connor Fijalkowski, Paul Lucente, Micah Russell, Nathan Thompson, Bret Unger and Nick Walters; juniors Trevor Bozina, Ben Schommer and Nathan Morter Jr. and sophomores Zach Lovin nd Peyton Nichols and Morter Jr will lead the pitching staff, while Schommer will handle the catching duties.

Schommer batted .412 last year.

Morter Jr. and Thompson will lead the infielders, while Lovin, Nichols and Russell head up the outfield.

Morter Jr. batted .358 last year with seven doubles and 14 RBIs, while Nicholds batted .444 with 10 doubles, one triple, 22 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Lovin batted .300.

Morter says the team looks forward to competing in the TRC.

TROY CHRISTIAN

Tony Ferraro returns as coach.

The Eagles were 22-7 last year and shared the MBC title with a 9-1 record and advanced to the D-IV district finals.

Troy Christian is moving to the TRC this year.

Key returners include seniors Lucas Day, Adam Twiss and Connor Fyre; junior Ben Major and sophomore Camden Koukul.

Day was 9-1 a year ago with a 1.40 ERA.

He had 101 strikeouts in 60 inning and at the plate he batted .545 with 19 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 51 RBIs.

Twiss was 4-2 on the mound.

At the plate, he batted .302 with five doubles and 22 RBIs.

Frye batted .314 with three doubles and 11 RBIs, Major batted .333 with eight doubles, two triples, 18 RBIs and 14 stolen bases and Koukul batted .293 with eight doubles and 14 RBIs.

“We are hoping to compete in our new league,” Ferraro said. “We are excited for the opportunity and we think we will improve throughout the year.”

WOAC

BRADFORD

Andy Mead returns as the Bradford coach.

The Railroaders were 14-10 last year, 7-4 in the CCC and advanced to the D-IV district finals.

Senior catcher Keaton Mead and sophomore pitcher/shortstop Tucker Miller were named All-CCC last year.

Bradford moves into the WOAC this year.

Also returning are Landon Monnin, Hudson Hill, Landon Wills, Dalton Skinner, Brendan Baker, Garrett Trevino, Ben Kitts and Jordan Thacker.

Top new additions are Parker Davidson, Owen Canan and Kamerun Depweg.

Miller, Davidson and Mead will lead the pitching staff, with Wills, Monnin and Skinner also seeing action on the mound.

Mead and Canan will handle the catching duties and the top infielders will be Hill, Miller, Monnin and Davidson.

Seeing action in the outfield will be Baker, Kitts, Trevino, Wills, Thacker and Depweg.

“We hope to build on last year’s competitive season wit the leadership of our sole senior and experienced returning lettermen,” Mead said. “Although we may be considered a younger team, the time is now to compete in every game.”

NEWTON

Jordan Kopp returns as coach.

The Indians were 19-5 a year ago and CCC champs. They join the WOAC this year.

Returning letterwinners include seniors Lane Bayer and Colin Tackett and juniors Hudson Montgomery and Carson Knupp.

Those four will provide a strong pitching staff for the Indians.

Bayer will handle the catching duties and Hudson and sophomore Brady Downing will lead the infielders.

Knupp and sophomore Ty Schauerer will lead the outfield.

“We will have a solid pitching staff,” Kopp said. “We will be pretty young overall and starting five guys without varsity experience. I am excited to watch our guys grow and gain experience during this season.”

Kopp said his four returners will be a key.

“We have four really great leaders (Lane Bayer, Colin Tackett, Hudson Montgomery, Carson Knupp) that we will lean on early in the year. Our goal is to be in the top half of a very competitive league this year.”