Thirty games and 30 wins. That is what the Jonathan Alder High School baseball team has accomplished entering a Division II regional semifinal Thursday against Bellbrook.
Thirty games and 30 wins.
That is what the Jonathan Alder High School baseball team has accomplished entering a Division II regional semifinal Thursday against Bellbrook.
30-0. Imagine that!
Thirty times heading to the diamond with the same positive results. Rarely do things like this happen in story books, but for coach Craig Kyle's Pioneers it is as real as the next game. It has been a season to savor, at least up to this point.
Seniors Sean Fleming and Jacob Mahon are two of the mainstays of the team and both said the success of this team should be credited to their hard work ethic, their coaches and their mental attitude.
"Offensively, there are no holes in our lineup, one through nine," Mahon said. "Every player can hit the ball, but what makes us even better is that every player has a game plan each time they walk to home plate to hit. This is a very smart team that understands and has been well schooled in the game of baseball. We all know how to advance runners and where to put the ball in play. If someone doesn't step forward and get the job done, someone else does and that is what has made us 30-0."
Fleming said success has come to the Pioneers because they play well in all facets of the game.
"We believe in ourselves because we have done well in the three main phases of baseball, which are pitching, fielding and hitting. If I had to pick one of those three that is our major strength, it would be our pitching because any baseball fan knows that good pitching stifles good hitting. But along with all of the fundamentals of our sport, we also have great confidence in each other and that confidence has carried us a long way."
As each game has passed, the winning streak has become more and more talked about. With the team four victories from a state title, the intensity is building.
"From early in the season there has always been a lot of pressure on us, but the great thing about this team is that when we cross the chalk lines and get on the field, we all have 100 percent focus on the job at hand," Fleming said. "I think any athlete has imagined what it would be like to have a season like we are experiencing and I can only say it has been a great and awesome feeling so far."
Mahon said the veteran leadership has helped the Pioneers handle the pressure of being undefeated.
"We have all been through the ups and downs of baseball and can deal with the various situations. We support each other to the fullest because we have great team chemistry. When someone makes an error, we are all there to pick them up. We all know we are the target for every team and everyone wants to be the team that puts a (loss) in our win-loss column and now they want to be the team that sends us home. But our attitude has carried us to this point and we know we can continue winning."
Both Mahon and Fleming have great words to say about their coach and the influence he has had on their lives.
"From day one, coach Kyle has told us that we could be a great team," Mahon said. "Through his leadership, my teammates and I have learned to overcome adversity and he has helped develop me into the young man I am today. He has taught me how to be a leader and has taught me to be responsible. It is very improbable that you could go out on the field 30 times and win 30 times, but for all of us it won't matter as much if we are 30-1."
"Coach has that great intensity and determination it takes to make a team believe that you are the best," Fleming added. "He has taught us to be confident without being cocky. Baseball has been everything for me. My dad died almost exactly one year ago, and I play all the games for him and I know he wanted me to go hard every time I play and that is what I try to do."
There are so many goals that this team has reached in this magical season, but just ask Sean Fleming and Jacob Mahon and they will tell you that there is still a great adventure ahead, but 30-0? Wow!
I'll see you at a game.
Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.