Over the years, the competitiveness in the sport of baseball at all of the Scioto County schools seems to be nearing all-time highs.
On Tuesday afternoon, that fact was evident as 28 Scioto County players obtained All-Southeast District honors from the coaches surrounding the region thanks to their play over the course of the year, with Wheelersburg, Green, Notre Dame, and South Webster combining for eight first-team honorees apiece in 2017. Three coaches — including the Bobcats’ Dan McDavid, the Jeeps’ Ryan McClintic, and the Pirates’ Michael Estep — also earned Coach of the Year honors.
Wheelersburg, who will play in its 10th consecutive regional tournament on Thursday against Zane Trace, put three-hole hitter and star catcher Xander Carmichael, ace pitcher Kaden Coleman, and first baseman Cole Darnell, who serves as the Pirates’ cleanup hitter, on the Division III East First-Team. Wheelersburg also put Kaleb Coleman, another talented arm in the Pirates’ rotation, on the second unit.
Like Wheelersburg, South Webster cleaned house in the East Division by putting pitching ace Bradley Gee and standout catcher Alek Blevins on the Division IV first-team unit. Blevins and Gee, who are both seniors, have also been sparkplugs from the leadoff position and the four-hole, respectively. Trevor Coriell, who splits time between the hill and first base, obtained second team honors. In addition to Blevins and Gee, Coriell is another experienced senior who brings a strong and disciplined bat to the plate from the three-hole.
As far as the Division III West lineup was concerned, a standout performance from Minford allowed the Falcons to place four individuals on the All-Southeast District list. Jacob McCaleb (first team), Eric Cook (second team), and Luke Lindamood and Matthew Gullett (honorable mention) were all named to the unit, with Lindamood and Gullett serving as productive players in the middle of the order, Cook producing as an excellent starting pitcher, and McCaleb serving as the unit’s three-hole hitter and ace pitcher of the staff. McCaleb threw a no-hitter against South Webster on April 5.
West joined Minford on the fun by placing Garrett Hurd and Mardy Knittel on the unit in a year that exceeded many expectations as the Senators finished 13-13 on the year. Hurd, who led the team in batting average from the three-hole and served as a utility infielder and pitcher for West, made the first team, while Knittel, the ace of the staff, collected second team honors. The junior threw a no-hitter against Oak Hill on April 5.
In addition to Minford and West, Portsmouth and Valley each added one player apiece to the unit as the Trojans’ Ryan Williams collected first team honors while the Indians’ Jesse Jones nabbed second team accolades. Williams was the ace of Portsmouth’s staff and the team’s three-hole hitter, while Jones led Valley in nearly every offensive category.
Of all of the divisions, however, perhaps none of them represented Scioto County’s success better than the Division IV West squad, with Clay, Green, East, and Notre Dame all obtaining multiple selections on the list.
Green, who had four players make the D-IV West squad, put Trevor Carver, Tanner Kimbler, and Tayte Carver on the first unit. All three proved to be effective pitchers, with Kimbler and Tayte Carver splitting time at the shortstop position and Trevor Carver splitting duties with Kimbler as the team’s mainstays at catcher.
At the plate, Kimbler was excellent all season with the bat from his leadoff spot, while Tayte Carver and Trevor Carver proved to be nightmares for opponents at the three and four-hole slots. Tyler Darnell, a center fielder with excellent range and great speed that translated well to the basepaths, obtained honorable mention accolades.
Notre Dame, who also put four players on the D-IV West squad, were led by Tyler Speas, who has proved to be an effective cleanup hitter for the Titans, and Drew Cassidy, who starred on the mound and in the middle of the Notre Dame infield in 2017. CJ Corns, the Titans’ ace on the hill, and Sam Kayser, a gritty infielder who was one of the more effective leadoff hitters in the county, made the second unit.
Clay followed up Green’s and Notre Dame’s efforts by collecting three D-IV West honorees, including Brody Riffe, who stood out all season on the mound. The senior threw five scoreless innings on the hill in his final high school appearance against Reedsville Eastern, and in addition to his efforts, provided excellent leadership en route to obtaining first team honors. Drew Hadsell, who went on a torrid pace during the second half of the season after being moved to the leadoff spot, obtained second team honors, and a consistent season from Cole Gilliland allowed the senior to join Hadsell and Riffe on the unit as the 6-4 standout obtained honorable mention accolades.
Last, but most certainly not least, the East Tartans used a much-improved campaign — which included the school’s first sectional victory in the decade — to place two players on the D-IV West list. Drew Lowe capped off a stellar career across three sports with first team honors, while the promising abilities of Tyler Winston were taken into account on the honorable mention list.
In addition to the 28 honorees from the county, all of the players who earned first team honors — which include 15 of the 28 players from Scioto County — will get to play in the Division III and Division IV West-East All-Star Games at VA Memorial Stadium on June 5.
The 28 honorees were also joined by Estep, McClintic, and McDavid, who earned Division III East, Division IV East, and Division IV West Coach of the Year accolades, respectively.
Estep — who will be honored as a Southeast District Hall of Fame member at the VA in between the two all-star affairs — has led Wheelersburg to a 21-5 record in 2017. The Pirates, who went 13-1 in SOC II play en route to another conference title, defeated Adena twice and split a pair of matchups with Greenup County, who was ranked in the USA Today National Top 25 Poll in 2016.
McClintic has led South Webster to a 14-13 record in 2017 and the school’s first district championship in the sport of baseball. The Jeeps claimed a 6-3 victory over Green and a 7-2 win over Notre Dame — the SOC I’s top two finishers in 2017 — en route to a regional berth. As for McDavid, the veteran head coach led Green to an undefeated 12-0 mark in SOC I play in 2017. The Bobcats claimed their first SOC I Championship since 2011 and went 18-6 under McDavid’s direction.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7