MINFORD – It’s been exactly 351 days since the Minford Falcons competed in their state semifinal contest against Coldwater. Six days before that, Minford knocked off Ridgewood to claim the school’s first ever baseball regional title. Those are memories the players and families of last season’s Minford team will never and can never forget.
This Saturday, however, Minford begins a new journey with a Sectional final against Piketon. After a regular season in which the Falcons finished 24-1 and a share of their second consecutive SOC II title, Minford senior leaders Darius Jordan and Luke Lindamood are more than ready for the chance to repeat their historic run from a season ago.
“It feels good to be back in postseason baseball,” Jordan said. “We’ve been playing good baseball all year and I hope we can stay hot through the postseason.”
“It feels great to be back in postseason mode,” Lindamood said. “It’s eally important to take this one game at a time and not overlook anybody.”
Regular season baseball has its positives and negatives, in all levels of the sport. In the professional ranks, a would-be meaningless game in May or June may impact postseason rankings come September. At the high school level, each game, no matter the opponent, helps each player fine tune their skills in preparation for the do-or-die stakes of the postseason.
But for Minford, a team who finished 5-1 in last year’s postseason which included a run to the state semifinals, their six postseason games a year ago has helped better prepare them for their upcoming run in 2019.
“Last season’s tourney run was an awesome experience all around,” Lindamood said of the Falcons regional title team a year ago. “During the state semifinal game, all of us were kind of astonished by how many people were there and really the environment as a whole. We know what it takes to get there, and now we have the experience of being in that position. Hopefully we make it there and we’re able to capitalize off of that.”
“We have a lot more confidence going into this year rather than last year,” Jordan said. “But we also know that people will be giving us their best shot when they play us. If we play like we can, we’ll give ourselves a chance to be there again.”
Anyone who has gotten the privilege to spend any time around this year and last year’s Minford team knows just how special the bond these Falcons share is, on and off the field. Baseball is one of the most, if not the most team oriented sport, a fact Minford showcases in their relationships with each member on their team.
“Everyone really likes each other on our team,” Lindamood said. “Being able to have that connection on and off the field helps us have each other’s backs whenever it’s needed.”
“We’re all close friends, that’s why we play so good together,” Jordan said. “None of us are afraid to do something that will ultimately help our team. We don’t have any “I” players on the team, we all just want to win.”
Another area that this Minford team excels in is depth, particularly on the mound. Ethan Lauder, Elijah Vogelsong, Reid Shultz, and Bailey Rowe all have had major contributions in nine of their twenty-four wins being shutouts thus far in 2019.
In fact, in twenty of their twenty-five games played this season, Minford has allowed two runs or less, a major credit to their overall pitching and defensive prowess in the diamond.
“Our team is always confident with who we have on the mound,” Jordan said. “If they are all on their game, we have four number one pitchers. That’s been a big help this season.”
“Having depth at the pitching position is a huge plus because in any given game, we have a plus arm throwing,” Lindamood said. “We don’t really have a one, two, three, or four guy. We have a 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B. Our depth is great.”
Minford has plans to return to the state semifinal stage being held at Canal Park in Akron this season, as do all of Scioto County’s remaining teams. But before that can take place, Jordan and Lindamood agree they can’t overlook any opponent including Piketon this Saturday in their Division III Sectional final.
“It’s very important we take this one game at a time,” Lindamood said. “If we are thinking too far ahead into the postseason, then we can let an early game slip by us.”
“We’ve got tot take it one game at a time and not let this season slip away,” Jordan said. “No matter who we play, we can’t take them lightly.”
First pitch between Minford and Piketon is slated for 11:00 a.m. in Muletown.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved