We’re coming down the homestretch!
Two months away from the end of the 2017-18 academic year for most of the young men and women out there, and man, have we seen some impressive accomplishments from the student-athletes that reside in this county. It’s certainly work that can’t be taken in a light manner.
So without further adue, it’s time to be thankful for a third time!
The softball program. With state titles in 1980, 1981, 1983, and runner-up finishes at the state level in 1979 and 1988, the Clay Panthers’ softball program basically started the string of softball success that Scioto County has come to know since the inception of the sport as an official OHSAA-sanctioned piece in the late 70s.
And while it hasn’t won a state title in 35 years, Clay could be set to make a long-awaited trip to state this season. The Panthers not only return eight of their nine starters from last season, but will return eight of its nine starters for 2019, as well. The talents of Julia Swain — the team’s lone senior — along with junior standouts Hannah Oliver, Shaelyn Vasser, Jensen Warnock, Cassidy Wells, Elisa Collins, Lila Brown, and Abby Ware, among other excellent youngsters, could have Clay approaching heights that haven’t been seen in 30 years.
Take it from me — this group is fun to watch play.
Matt Miller. When you have a guy as dedicated to the development of student-athletes as this guy is, it speaks volumes. I have personally watched him rush from Waverly to Chillicothe to Ashland, Ky. to Hillsboro and every place in between so he can coach BOTH the Junior and Senior Legion teams, on the same day, for as much as eight to 10 hours at a time with four games going on during said day. There are a bunch of dedicated individuals in the coaching profession that don’t get the appreciation that they deserve, but Miller’s work ethic, and toward a variety of sports at that, is nearly unparalleled.
East should be very lucky to have the 44-year old in their corner, and I know personally from speaking with a few folks from Sciotoville — they are certainly thrilled to have him. Watch out for the Tartans’ baseball program this year — they could be in for a big jump!
Has there been a more exciting time this decade for the Green Bobcats’ athletic programs? It’d be hard-pressed to find such a time. The boys basketball program won its first pair of postseason affairs since 1999. The girls basketball program has great young talent in its system, and that was evident with Kame Sweeney’s ability. The softball program made huge strides last year and has a real chance to make a top-three run in SOC I action. The baseball program went 12-0 in SOC I action last season and has a real chance at repeating in 2018 while obtaining a regional berth. The cross country and track programs also have a lot of talent not only in their programs now, but in their feeder systems, as well. Green High School really has something rolling in Franklin Furnace — and it’s really exciting to see for a community that really does take care of its neighbors.
Zoe Doll. One of the most unselfish student-athletes you’ll find, Doll is earning everything she’s getting. Scioto County has had a great run of signings here as the winter season winds down, and Doll continued the excellent run when the senior signed with Defiance to play college softball. With Doll, Defiance got a steal that is similar to Ellie Ruby’s signing to play volleyball and track and field at Mount Vernon Nazarene. Doll will play wherever is desired. All she cares about is having fun with her teammates and winning games — and as a result, she gets the most out of her ability every time she steps out into an athletic arena.
It’s safe to say that the excitement is back in the village. Between the boys and girls basketball realm, the Tigers had six All-Southeast District honorees, three 1,000-point scorers, and won 34 games between the two sports as both programs went to district play, with the girls reaching the Division IV District Finals and the boys reaching the Division IV District Semifinals for the first time since 2000. What’s scary about that, however, is the first that Kayla Wiley and Adam Cox accomplished those goals in just their third and first seasons coaching at the school, respectively.
Look for both school to remain closer to the top of the SOC I standings with a renewed sense of pride and dedication that hasn’t been seen across its basketball programs in a long time.
Valerie Eury and Hunter Berry. I really like what these two student-athletes because they are tough and get the most out of their abilities despite being young or undersized. Eury led Northwest in points and rebounds per game as a freshman while Berry, a senior on the boys squad, has been outstanding as the Mohawks’ leader on the defensive side on both the soccer pitch and the basketball court.
The boys basketball program. Tyler Speas was an excellent leader and an integral piece to a unit that turned quite a few heads with its effectiveness in its sets during the latter half of the year, but that same program only loses Speas and virtually gets a year older. Ben Mader, who scored 12 points per game this year, was outstanding, and Jackson Clark and Miles Shipp are student-athletes who could very well be All-Southeast District talents down the road. Notre Dame is going to be a tough out down the road for anybody.
Lynsey Shipley. With the track season almost set to commence, we can’t go without mentioning the reigning OHSAA Division III 400 meter champion. A stellar student off of the track as evidenced by her 4.51 grade-point-average, Shipley will likely be considered as the school’s best track athlete, girls or boys, when the season concludes in June. But even if she wins state titles in the 100, 200, and 400 meters as well as the long jump or doesn’t win one at all, Shipley’s future — the senior has signed with Northern Kentucky to participate in track and field — is secure due to her hard work.
The women’s basketball program. Jeff Nickel’s fifth season at the helm of the Bears may not have ended in the manner that he, or members of the program, had hoped, but with 26 straight wins, a No. 1 national ranking in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball realm, the Mid-South Conference Regular Season and Tournament titles, and a No. 1 overall seed in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament, there’s plenty to be proud of.
And while Shawnee State does lose two integral pieces in Madison Ridout and Lydia Poe, the Bears, thanks to the return of Hannah Miller, Ashton Lovely, Bailey Cummins, Sienna King, Shania Massie, local standouts Hagen Schaefer and Laken Smith, and promising low-post player Leah Wingeier, have a chance to not only make a deeper run in the tournament, but open the year as the NAIA’s No. 1 unit with four of its five starters back.
But whether the latter point is true or not, one thing’s for sure: the standards of the program aren’t dropping any, and that could very well lead to a memorable year for the SSU program.
Shiloah Blevins. It seems like a broken record, but my goodness, Shiloah Blevins’ performances on the basketball court were incredible this season. I mean, 22 points and 14 rebounds per game for a team that is playing up? Those are insane numbers. And with the Jeeps already obtaining a district final berth in 2018, the sky is truly the limit with no seniors gone and Blevins, Ruth, and Sam Holstein among others returning as senior leaders.
Marissa Markins. Speaking of a steal in recruiting, Shawnee State got a gem in Marissa Markins, who is one of the better student-athletes that one will find in this area on the softball field. A standout hitter from the No. 3 position who batted well over .300 last year, Markins is arguably one of the best fielders in the Southeast District regardless of conference or area. Kayla Koch exits the SSU softball program after this season, but the Bears — who are already off to a 10-4 start in 2018 —have obtained a gem here and have kept a fresh pipeline to Lucasville in the process. That’s another excellent piece for Steve Whittaker and Co. to build upon going forward.
Morgan Rigsby. When you’ve got a sophomore that averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds — and that sophomore obtained 12 double-doubles, along with four games with 20 or more rebounds — that’s a promising sign. Rigsby is long, athletic, and with a low-post game that is continuing to develop, that is a very scary proposition for everybody else.
The girls soccer program. To have three players sign with universities — Sydney White, Lyndlee Willis, and Madison Humble — is truly incredible. But Wheelersburg has some talented young ladies, and Todd Jarvis, Kevin Powell, and Mollie King have done a superb job with the program. An 18-1-1 overall record this past season, in just the fourth year of the program, speaks for itself.
But this is only the beginning. I mean, Libby Miller, Chelsee Steele, Christen Risner, Sophie Hagans, Laney Eller, and Ellie Kallner coming back? That’s a ton of talent just among those six.
SSU – Jayllen Carter, Bryan Rolfe, SSU girls basketball program
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT