Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Patrick Henry, Bryan top teams

Golden Bears have won 4 straight titles

Patrick Henry has won two Division IV state baseball championships since 2008.

During that same period the Patriots have failed to claim a single Northwest Ohio Athletic League title.

It's basically the only feat standout pitcher Kevin Kline and the rest of the senior class has not been able to celebrate.

Winning a league championship is as much a priority and focus as it has ever been.

"Every year that's always our goal," PH coach Shawn Sunderman said. "We always want to compete in league and try to win it."

With seven starters back from last season's team that finished 17-7 overall and third in the NWOAL at 5-3, the Patriots opened the season as preseason pick to win the title as selected by league coaches.

Bryan, which is riding a four-year streak of titles, was voted a close second with Archbold picked to finish third.

"I believe there will be a lot of competition in a close race for the league title this year," Sunderman said.

Patrick Henry will lean on Kline, a University of Toledo commit, who posted a 7-2 record as a junior while fanning 52 batters in 45⅓ innings of work to earn a 1.70 ERA. Kline also hit .443 while driving in 30 RBIs.

Nick Gerschutz was a key pitcher for the Patriots during the 2009 state championship run. The senior right-hander produced a 2.58 ERA in 40⅔ innings of work last season. He batted .361 and scored 21 runs.

Seniors catcher Kyle Bergstedt, outfielder Austin Christman and outfielder Kolby Seemann are expected to be big contributors.

The Patriots won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009.

Bryan was 20-8 last year while going 8-0 in league for the fourth straight season.

Derek Hug, Collin Bacon, and Trevor Blaylock lead the experienced Golden Bears under coach Jeff Inselmann.

Last year, Hug batted .366 with 26 hits, 14 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases while Bacon batted .354 with 15 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

Blaylock was an all-league pitcher after posting an 8-0 record with a 1.36 ERA. He fanned 48 batters in 46⅓ innings of work.

Archbold coach Dick Selgo also figures to make the NWOAL race quite competitive with several key starters back from a team that finished 17-10 overall and tied for fourth with Montpelier at 4-4 in the NWOAL.

Zach Driver, Tyson Dietrich, and Tanner Wyse lead the Blue Streaks. Driver returns as one of the top hitters in the league after batting .367 and driving in 20 RBIs as a junior. Dietrich batted .325 with 26 hits, 12 RBI, and eight stolen bases. Wyse is the team's ace coming off a season in which he owned a 2.94 ERA.

Wauseon coach Trent Thomas will lean on plenty of underclassmen, with just one senior on team.

Juniors pitcher-catcher Jake Trejo, first baseman Josh Cales, and outfielder Collin Bzozi are key returnees. Trejo batted .432 a year ago, which ranked fifth best in the NWOAL. Cales batted .338 with 23 hits and 24 runs scored.

Austin Tuckerman, a senior second baseman, missed all last season with an injury.

The Indians finished 17-6 overall and second in the NWOALat 7-1.

"Until someone beats Bryan they've got to be the favorite," Thomas said.

Delta finished 17-11, 3-5 in the NWOAL last year. Ryan Callahan is league's top returning hitter. The All-NWOAL performer batted .576 last season. He recorded 57 hits, including a league-best six home runs, drove in 34 RBIs and scored 29 runs.

Evergreen returns plenty of experience for a team which finished 7-12, 1-7.

Trenton Shindorf, a senior pitcher-infielder, hit .322 while scoring 13 runs last year.

Seniors Nick Smallman (utility), Jacob VanLoocke (first baseman-DH), and Clayton Wielinski (pitcher-third baseman) are also expected to provide leadership.

"The key to our season will be our pitching staff and their ability to throw strikes and make our opponents earn runs as well as our defense's ability to limit big innings," said Evergreen coach Brian Nagy, who is in his 20th year.

Wielinski returns as the most experienced pitcher after posting a 4-5 record with a 3.33 ERA last year.

Montpelier coach Lance Thorp is in his third season.

Seniors pitcher Brady Geren, outfielder Dalton Buchanan, second baseman Alex Yagelski, and shortstop Logan McKelvey, an All-NWOAL second team selection, head the list of returnees.

The Locomotives were 8-13, 4-4 last season.

"We have a group of guys this year with plenty of varsity experience for the first time in a while," Thorp said. "The kids have been working hard and want to build on many positives that happened throughout last season."

Liberty Center was 8-13, 3-5 last season. Arland Babcock, a senior pitcher, leads the way after producing a 3.04 ERA with 55 strikeouts last year.

Swanton coach Johnny Kontak is looking for the Bulldogs to improve on their 5-16, 1-7 marks in his second year.

"We have a group of kids that are hungry to be great," Kontak said. "They work hard to get better every day, always having our goals in mind."

Catcher Mark Baker, first baseman Stew Graf, and utility Travis Pelland represent Swanton's top returnees.

"We are young, so experience will build as the year goes on," Kontak said.

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