Joe McCauley wants to be the go-to guy with the game on the line for the Grandview Heights High School baseball team.
Whether he's at shortstop or in the outfield, the senior wants the ball hit to him in a pressure situation. He wants to be at the plate with the tying or winning run on base in the seventh inning.
The four-year varsity player can think of nothing better on the diamond.
"It can be nerve-racking when you go to the plate in those situations, but that's the best part," McCauley said. "It's why I love baseball. It's why I play the game."
Through 18 games this season, McCauley was batting .404 with 11 RBI and 16 runs scored. He had drawn 17 walks and had a .563 on-base percentage.
Last season, he batted .387 with 14 RBI and scored 14 runs and earned second-team all-league honors.
He goes up to the plate with a strategy of being patient, which helps when the game hangs in the balance. He doesn't press.
"I never have been a first-ball hitter," McCauley said. "I'm not afraid to take the first pitch if it's not what I'm looking for. I work the count and that helps me get walks."
McCauley has been playing since youth league, but has made his mark on the varsity level. He saw playing time as a freshman and contributed at catcher the past two seasons before becoming a shortstop and outfielder this spring when he's not pitching.
"Joe is a student of the game, which makes sense because his mom (Barb McCauley) has been a (second-grade) teacher in the district for 25 years," said coach Tyler Fitzgerald, whose team was 9-10 overall and 2-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division after losing to Worthington Christian 11-10 on April 24. "He has a student's mentality and wants to learn about the game. He's grown up around baseball and it shows."
McCauley also pitches, but most times when he takes the mound, he draws the opponent's ace. Through 18 games, he was 0-3 with a 4.20 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 13 walks in 26 2/3 innings. He throws two- and four-seam fastballs along with a cut-fastball, changeup, curveball and slider.
"My out-pitch is probably my curveball," McCauley said. "(Fitzgerald) taught me how to throw it when I was in the sixth grade.
"I like pitching, but I do what I can to help the team. I used to catch a lot, but now I play all over the field and fill in where I can."
The Bobcats already have won more games than they did last season when finishing 6-19. McCauley believes that comes down to hitting, better defense and chemistry.
"I feel like this team hits the ball better and we have cut down on errors," said McCauley, who also played with the football program. "Our pitchers have also thrown strikes. Cutting down on walks is great because we make batters work to get on base.
"We also have trust. I have faith in (my teammates) and they have faith in me. We have great team unity and we love being together."
Grandview had three other players hitting above .300 entering the week in sophomore Jacob Hollar (.491), freshman Joey Bertani (.365) and junior Luke Sterneker (.317).
McCauley has helped the younger players acclimate to varsity from his experience as a freshman.
"I was pretty nervous my freshman year," he said. "I didn't start every game, so I had be ready to pinch-hit, pinch-run, whatever was needed. It was good experience especially being more of a utility player this season."
Track teams sweep
Bobcat Booster titles
The boys and girls track and field teams both captured championships April 21 in the Bobcat Booster Invitational.
"We have a bunch of competitors who get out there and give it all they have," coach Brian Schoch said. "We're still trying to figure out who to put where and we're working to get better. We're far from a finished product."
Jordan Beight won four events for the boys team, which scored 177 points to finish ahead of Mount Gilead (131), Liberty Union (103), Jonathan Alder (69), West Jefferson (23) and Madison Plains (16).
Beight won the 100 meters (program- and meet-record 10.76 seconds), 110 hurdles (15.12), 300 hurdles (41.06) and long jump (meet-record 21 feet, 6 3/4 inches). James Lachey won the shot put (40-11 1/2), and Iain McCormick was first in the pole vault (11-6).
Dareth Douglass and Whitney Schaefer both won a pair of individual events as the girls team (124.67) finished ahead of Mount Gilead (118), Jonathan Alder (108), Liberty Union (98.5), West Jefferson (36.5) and Madison Plains (22.33).
Douglass won the discus (meet-record 120-10) and shot put (33-10), and Schaefer was first in the 100 hurdles (17.4) and 300 hurdles (48.96). The two joined Maddy Morosky and Molly Smith on the first-place 800 relay (meet-record 1:50.4), and Smith also won the 400 (1:02.7).
Tennis team prepares
for MSL-Ohio tourney
The boys tennis team will compete in the MSL-Ohio tournament Saturday, April 29, at Columbus Academy.
The Bobcats were 1-9 overall and 1-4 in the league after defeating Whitehall 5-0 on April 24.
In earlier MSL-Ohio duals, they lost to West Jefferson 3-2 on April 4, Worthington Christian 5-0 on April 17, Academy 5-0 on April 18 and Bexley 5-0 on April 20.
Grandview won only four courts in its first nine matches. Against West Jefferson, Caleb Akers and Ben Hecker won at first doubles and Calvin Horning won at third singles.
On March 29, Horning won at third singles in a 4-1 loss to Hamilton Township.
First-singles player Sam Speaks won in a 4-1 loss to Teays Valley on April 5.