After his team's 6-4 victory over visiting DeSales on May 6, Ready High School baseball coach Harry Caruso took time to talk about the value of at-bats.
Stressing the Silver Knights should strive for productivity even when they're not getting hits is a lesson he hopes will come in handy throughout the Division III district tournament.
The Silver Knights, who haven't won a district championship or advanced past a district semifinal since 1997 when they won their first district title in 13 years, earned the fourth seed for the postseason.
Ready hopes to take advantage of having a first-round bye, a second-round home game and being the second-highest seed in its bracket.
"If you don't get a hit, get a sacrifice," Caruso said. "We have to battle and grind when we're up a couple runs against a good team. In past years the only way we generated runs was at the top of our lineup. We're hitting throughout the lineup, which has helped us to be a little more dangerous this year."
The Silver Knights are 12-12 overall. They lost to St. Charles 9-4 on May 8 to finish 3-5 in the CCL.
Ready opens the postseason Thursday, May 16, at home against 10th-seeded Heath or 22nd-seeded Grandview. The winner plays sixth-seeded Marion Elgin, 12th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek or 15th-seeded Centerburg in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at Olentangy.
The district final is May 23 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
The Silver Knights were district semifinalists in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008 under former coach Herb Sharfenaker.
Then in 2009 in Caruso's first season, Ready upset fourth-seeded Grandview 8-0 in the second round before falling to Heath in a district semifinal. In 2010, the Silver Knights upset top-seeded Fredericktown 4-3 in the second round before losing to Columbus Academy 2-1 in a district semifinal.
Last season, Ready lost to East Knox 3-1 in eight innings in a second-round game.
During the 1997 season, the Silver Knights went 3-9 in the CCL but were 13-2 against non-league opponents.
Ready is 9-7 against non-league opponents despite a schedule that included eight OCC teams.
"I thought we'd be a four or five seed based on our strength of schedule," Caruso said. "We've gotten some CCL wins and we're building the program in terms of our confidence."
Senior Mitch McNabb was 3-3 with a 2.35 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 47 innings through 22 games. The other top pitchers have been juniors Hunter Clanin (3-2, 1.62 ERA), Vinny Castorano (3-1), Drew Hasenkamp and Jason Foster.
Senior Ross Etgen (SS/2B) was hitting .443 with 20 stolen bases and 34 runs scored. Foster (P/INF, .381), senior Sean Mogan (OF, .361) and Clanin (C/P, .328) have been the other top hitters.
Boys tennis team set for postseason
Boys tennis coach Jen Donaldson expects her players to have competitive matches during the Division II sectional tournament Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Columbus Academy.
Senior Nick Berner has been at first singles all season and will open the tournament against Fisher Catholic's Chris Sielski. Other sectional singles matches for Ready will feature senior Austin Vrancken against Whitehall's Jiawen Zhen and senior Scott Knapke against Bloom-Carroll's Joe Sarsfield.
In doubles, seniors Kris Clarke and Michael Pass will open against Whitehall's Huitzil Carlos and Jacob Dilbeck and seniors Spencer Heselden and Tyler Eggers will face Grandview's Peter Bonn and Joe Huggins.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 24 and 25 at Academy.
"For some of them who have just picked up a racket the past two years, they're doing fairly well," Donaldson said. "(Berner) played (junior varsity) last year and he and Scott Knapke played doubles last year. Nick has really improved from last year and is just really consistent. Austin Vrancken has never played for us but he's an athlete, so he's picked up the sport pretty quickly.
"Everybody should probably advance at least one (match) at the sectional. We shouldn't end up having any of them losing 6-0, 6-0."
Ready was 4-5 overall before playing Fisher Catholic on May 13 and West Jefferson on May 14. The Silver Knights were 1-2 in the CCL before playing DeSales on May 15.
Softball team seeded 16th
The softball team received the 16th seed for the Division III district tournament and began the postseason with a second-round game May 15 at third-seeded Northridge.
The winner advanced to a district semifinal against fourth-seeded Liberty Union, 13th-seeded East Knox or 18th-seeded Fredericktown on Monday, May 20, at Pickerington North. The district final is May 25 at Pickerington Central.
Last season, Ready lost to North Union 3-2 in a second-round game.
The Silver Knights went 8-15 in the regular season.
Ready beat Hartley 5-4 on April 25 and DeSales 2-1 on April 17 en route to going 2-4 in the CCL to tie the Hawks and Stallions for second behind Watterson (6-0).
Sisler named girls volleyball coach
The girls volleyball program has found its successor for one of the most successful coaches in its history.
Mark Sisler, who previously served as the women's coach at Ohio State-Marion, was an assistant last year at Rochester (Mich.) College and has coached at the club level, will coach a high school team for the first time.
Sisler replaces Mike Kusan, who stepped down after last season. Ready went 114-44 in six seasons under Kusan, with a state semifinal finish in 2011 and a state runner-up finish last fall.
Sisler coaches the U16 team with the Blackswamp Volleyball Club, whose headquarters are in Tiffin, and previously has coached with the Oakland (Mich.) Elite Volleyball Club.
He is a 1981 Bucyrus graduate who has been involved with volleyball for 21 years.