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 was a lesson he hoped would 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 was hoping to take advantage of having a first-round bye, a second-round home game and being the second-highest seed in its bracket.
The fourth-seeded Silver Knights opened the tournament May 16 against 10th-seeded Heath in a second-round contest.
"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 were 12-12 overall before playing Heath. They lost to St. Charles 9-4 on May 8 to finish 3-5 in the CCL.
The Ready-Heath winner plays sixth-seeded Marion Elgin or 15th-seeded Centerburg in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at Olentangy, with that winner playing in a district final at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Beavers Field in Lancaster against third-seeded Liberty Union, fifth-seeded Johnstown, eighth-seeded Marion Pleasant or 18th-seeded North Union.
The district champion will play in a regional semifinal May 30 at Athletes in Action in Xenia. The regional final is May 31 at the same site.
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 6-5 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.
Ready was 9-7 against non-league opponents during the regular season 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. Foster (P/INF, .381), senior Sean Mogan (OF, .361) and Clanin (C/P, .328) have been the other top hitters.
Boys tennis team opens postseason
Boys tennis coach Jen Donaldson was expecting her players to have competitive matches during the Division II sectional tournament May 16 and 18 at Columbus Academy.
Senior Nick Berner has been at first singles all season and played singles at sectional, along with senior Austin Vrancken and senior Scott Knapke.
Competing in doubles were the teams of seniors Kris Clarke and Michael Pozz and seniors Spencer Heselden and Tyler Eggers.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Academy. The top four finishers at district advance to the state tournament May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
"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."
Ready beat Fisher Catholic 3-2 on May 13 and West Jefferson 5-0 on May 14 but lost to DeSales 5-0 on May 15 to finish 6-6 overall and 1-3 in the CCL.
Softball team upsets Vikings
The softball team received the 16th seed for the Division III district tournament and upset third-seeded Northridge 4-0 on May 15 in a second-round game.
The Silver Knights are 9-15 and play fourth-seeded Liberty Union on Monday, May 20, in a district semifinal at Pickerington North. The winner plays second-seeded Heath or fifth-seeded North Union in a district final at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 25, at Pickerington Central.
The district champion will play in a regional semifinal May 29 at Wright State. The regional final is June 1 at the same site.
Last season, Ready lost to fourth-seeded North Union 3-2 in a second-round game.
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.