SCIOTO COUNTY — When you’re the top-ranked team in the entire state, it only stands to reason that there are in fact reasons for that.
For the Valley High School baseball team in 2022, the Indians indeed had — AT LEAST — two very good reasons, or rather names, near the top of the list for their wire-to-wire top billing in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Division IV statewide poll.
Those would be head coach Nolan Crabtree, and junior pitcher and centerfielder Carter Nickel.
Alas, the seventh-season skipper Crabtree captured the Division IV Coach of the Year honor, while Nickel was a first-team all-Ohioan —as Ohio’s all-state baseball teams were recently released by the OHSBCA.
The only other Scioto Countian claiming all-Ohio accolades —South Webster junior pitcher Robert Martin.
All of the all-Ohio baseball selections, and any subsequent honors, are chosen by members of the OHSBCA.
Players which are selected all-state must make the first team in their respective districts.
All of the all-state nominees must be submitted from OHSBCA member head coaches, and nominees cannot be nominated for two positions (example: P/SS).
Coaches are encouraged to choose a player’s primary position, or nominate them as a utility player.
In the right-hander Nickel’s case, when he wasn’t pitching in favor for fellow ace and junior George Arnett, he was in centerfield —but his all-Ohio pitching numbers are indeed in line with first-team all-state status.
His record was a perfect 6-0 with a microscopic 0.33 earned run average —the lowest of any of the all-Ohio Division IV pitchers, including two-time state Player of the Year in the division in Lincolnview’s Landon Price.
He started 10 games on the mound, going the distance in three of them with one shutout, while coming on in relief to make two saves.
He allowed only 25 hits and two earned runs out of only six in his 42 total innings of work, while walking just six and striking out 64.
As a team, the 22-4 Indians repeated as Southeast District Division IV champions —as Valley was the Region 15 title-winner and state semifinalist for 2021.
They were also Southern Ohio Conference Division II runners-up —losing only in the league at Minford 2-1 in 14 innings over two days, and at champion Wheelersburg 1-0 in an hour and five minutes.
Both Wheelersburg and Minford are Division III, as the Indians’ only other regular-season setback was a 5-1 home decision against added and Division II team Unioto.
In fact, Valley’s only loss all season to a Division IV squad was Newark Catholic, which represented Region 15 in the state tournament.
The Green Wave were ranked fourth in the final OHSBCA Division IV poll, but the Indians were the top team all spring long —which aided in Crabtree capturing COY.
Strangely enough perhaps, a year ago, Minford (Region 11 runner-up) in Division III and Valley (Region 15 champions) in Division IV did not have ANY players make all-state.
For the left-handed Martin, he was the Jeeps’ ace all season —as they rode his arm to a memorable 1-0 district semifinal victory over SOC I champion Symmes Valley.
The Jeeps finished as Division IV district runners-up to Whiteoak, which had its own all-Ohio honorees —junior outfielder Carson Emery on second team and junior catcher Nate Price on Honorable Mention.
Martin was 6-5 with a similar minuscule ERA of 0.80, having made a dozen starts with six complete games and three shutouts.
Through his 69 and two-thirds innings, he allowed eight earned runs out of 25 total —along with 46 hits and 29 walks while striking out a hefty 110.
The aforementioned two-time POY Price, which the Indians ran into the Ohio State University commit in last season’s state semifinal, he went 7-0 with a 0.41 ERA —having started 10 games with six complete and three shutouts.
Through 51 innings, only three of his seven runs allowed were earned —as he gave up 22 hits and 15 walks while striking out 107.
Crabtree, Nickel, Martin, Emery and Nate Price were the only all-Ohio award winners from the entire Southeast District in Division IV —as two others, Meigs junior pitcher Ethan Stewart (first team) and Zane Trace senior infielder Ben Nichols (second team), notched honors in Division III.
Of that seven, Stewart is the only repeater —having earned Honorable Mention last season.
Unfortunately, the Ohio High School Athletic Association canceled the 2020 spring sports seasons because of the coronavirus threat —or otherwise any or all of these seven, and perhaps others from either Scioto County or even the Southeast District, would have made the list and/or even repeated to it.
For a complete list of the 2022 all-Ohio baseball honorees, please visit the OHSBCA’s website at www.ohsbca.org.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved