Clay jumps one spot, Wheelersburg retains position in OHSFSCA State Poll
Behind their continued excellence on the softball diamond, the Clay Panthers’ softball program and the Wheelersburg Pirates’ softball program maintained their top-five standing in the second version of the 2018 OHSFSCA State Polls that were released on Monday.
Wheelersburg, who kept its No. 2 position in the Division III order behind Warren Champion — who is the defending state champion in the division — garnered 102 votes and two first-place marks, sitting just behind Warren Champion’s 111 and seven.
Despite the overhaul that the roster underwent from last year to this season, Wheelersburg is an impressive 14-0 — including a perfect 9-0 in the SOC II realm — with two victories each over Minford and Oak Hill, a mercy-rule defeat over a well-respected Vanceburg (Ky.) Lewis County club, and a very impressive 3-0 victory over Harrodsburg (Ky.) Mercer County in a contest that was held as part of the Tri-State Showcase last Saturday in Russell, Ky.
This past Saturday, the Lady Pirates — in addition to sweeping the season series against South Webster — claimed two huge victories by coming back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Division I Hilliard Bradley, 5-2, then used a walkoff double from Boo Sturgill to fend off a late Columbus Bishop Ready rally en route to a 6-4 victory.
Sturgill has been sensational as a freshman from the three-hole, while Sarah Claxon and Sydney Spence have provided Wheelersburg with a formidable one-two punch as far as its pitching rotation is concerned. Fellow freshman Laney Eller, sophomores Mallory Bergan and Addi Collins, Claxon, Christen Risner, Taylor Fannin, Mia Darnell, and Bella Williams are among the names who have contributed in a heavy fashion for the Pirates in 2018.
Clay, who sports a 16-3 overall record, moved up to the No. 3 position in the Division IV realm. The Lady Panthers, who are a perfect 10-0 in SOC I conference action, garnered 48 points in this week’s version of the poll. Jeromesville Hillsdale (87 points, six first-place) and Rockford Parkway (81 points, three first-place votes) are the first two units in the Division IV Poll.
Jason Gearheart’s unit is led by a strong order from top to bottom, which features as much speed as it does power. Leadoff hitter Shaelyn Vassar, slap-hitter Lila Brown, and Kat Cochran are excellent contact hitters and strong on the basepaths, while Jensen Warnock, Cassidy Wells, Julia Swain, Hannah Oliver, and Megan Bazler can all hit for power. Eliza Collins and Chloi Hayslip are two additional strong batting hands and fielding arms in the order, while Shaley Munion, MeKenzie Loper, Sophia Gatti, Abbie Ware, and Hailey Wiltshire hold promise at the plate and on the basepaths as well. Wheelersburg transfer Ryanna Bobst only adds to a unit that is as deep and talented as any around.
In nine of their 16 victories, Clay has won by a mercy-rule count, including a victory over Division III Northwest, 10-0, during the Carol Vice Softball Classic to cap off a day where the field was dedicated to Vice with a victory. The Lady Panthers have outscored their Division IV brethren by a massive 145-12 count en route to winning each of its 12 games against its divisional foes in 2018.
Minford, ‘Burg, Clay, Green make foray into Division IV Poll
Behind their play in the field, the baseball programs inside the Clay, Green, Minford, and Wheelersburg umbrella were able to obtain state rankings in the first edition of the OHSBCA Poll on Monday evening.
Clay, who garnered the highest ranking of any team with its No. 11 showing in the Division IV realm, is 13-3 and has won 11 of its 13 games by at least 10 runs or more. The Panthers currently sit 9-1 overall in SOC I conference action. Star pitchers Dakota Dodds, Reece Whitley, and Keith Cottle have proven themselves as excellent two-way players — with Whitley already notching a no-hitter in a contest against South Webster — while Bradley McCleese, Shaden Malone, Evan Woods, Tanner Richards, Clay Cottle, and McGwire Garrison, among others, have all impressed in a lineup that has more capable starters than it does actual positions on the field.
Minford, who, like Clay, has exceeded all expectations, sits with a 13-1 overall record and a 9-1 mark in SOC II action. The Falcons — who were No. 13 in the first Division III Poll of the year — defeated Athens (12-10) and Zane Trace (6-4) in road bouts to start the year, and haven’t looked back as Minford pounded Adena in a home doubleheader (12-5 and 9-2), and, most recently, have added two scintillating walkoff victories over Wheelersburg (9-8) and Waverly (5-4 in 12 innings).
The play of freshman Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis has been nothing short of electric, but the stable leadership that Luke Lindamood and Ethan Lauder have proved, along with Brayden Davis’ and Darius Jordan’s abilities to get on base and execute in hit-and-run situations, have been huge for the Falcons, who also sport competitive gamers in Reid Shultz, Bailey Rowe, Payton Davis, and Nathan McCormick, among others.
The ever-reliable Pirates, who sit with a 10-3 overall record and are 7-1 in SOC II action, have continued to execute the day-to-day little things that Michael Estep has harped on. In addition to handing Minford its only conference loss by taking a 9-6 victory at Wheelersburg, the Pirates own a 6-5 victory over Waverly and have also recorded wins over Ashland (Ky.), 6-2, and Morehead (Ky.) Rowan County, 10-6, this year en route to a 20th-place mark in the opening poll.
Again, Wheelersburg is led by a deep pitching staff that includes Matt Marshall, Cole Dyer, and Trey Carter, among others such as Evan Dahm, Connor Mullins, and Jalen Miller. Dyer, who has 12 home runs in 13 games, leads a powerful lineup that also includes Carter, Miller, Mullins, Dahm, Jaydren Guthrie, Athan Temponeras, and ever-improving catcher Jarrett Stamper, in addition to guys like Will Darling, Cole Ratcliff, and Josiah Richendollar.
Behind the play of star juniors Tanner Kimbler, Tayte Carver, and Bryce Ponn, along with the play of Rylee Maynard, Levi Singleton, and Mason Barber, the Green Bobcats (10-1, 7-0 SOC I) have a spot in the receiving votes column of the Division IV Poll.
Carter, Kimbler, and Ponn have been consistently stellar on the hill while adding a pop in the middle of the order offensively, while Singleton and Barber haven’t disappointed despite lofty expectations, either. Maynard heads up a strong defensive unit with his play at second base.
In addition to the aforementioned six, guys such as Hayden Whitis, Caden Brammer, Ethan Carpenter, and Eli Webb have all stepped up to provide an offensive punch at different points in time during the year.