St. Charles Roundup: Success should be in cards for Cardinals baseball team

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
St. Charles' Ethan Seewald delivers a pitch during a scrimmage against New Albany on March 22. Seewald is one of 12 seniors playing this season for 23rd-year coach Ray Benjamin.

Ray Benjamin believes baseball is a simple game: Hit the ball, catch the ball and throw strikes.

The St. Charles coach said his team has the talent to be successful if the players do the basics and stay healthy.

“This is a great group of kids that makes it fun to be around the park,” said Benjamin, who is in his 23rd season. “They like to have fun, but they know when to get down to business. This should be a very exciting team if we take care of what we need to do. If we can throw strikes, stay healthy and put the ball in play, that should happen.”

The Cardinals have 12 seniors, including returnees Michael Benjamin (2B), Ryan Benjamin (CF), Carter Bryant (OF/1B), Ethan Seewald (P/1B) and Erik Witherspoon (SS/P), who started at third base in 2019.

“We have a lot of senior first-year varsity players who would have played last season but it was canceled (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic),” coach Benjamin said. “Things are different and ever-changing. We had a good start to the preseason, being able to get outside a lot for the tryout process. I feel good about our guys and I think they’ll find a way to be successful.”

Junior Dom Doukakis will start at catcher and be backed up by senior Cade Campbell. Bryant, Seewald and senior Jack Prophater will rotate at first, with Michael Benjamin at second and Witherspoon and senior Myles McKinney at shortstop. Senior Reid Dewez and juniors J.B. Meury and Archer Stankowski are competing for time at third.

Ryan Benjamin will play center field with Bryant, seniors Garrett Nerone and Collin Sattler and junior Scott Beckman rotating into the other two outfield spots.

Seewald and Witherspoon are the most experienced pitchers.

“We’ve been working on doing the little things right,” Doukakis said. “Things like fielding ground balls and communication are especially important. We’ve had some cross-ups in the field.”

The Cardinals split their first two games, defeating Hilliard Bradley 4-3 on March 27 and losing 10-2 to Canal Winchester on March 29.

BASEBALL

Coach: Ray Benjamin, 23rd season 

Next game: April 8 vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Key athletes: Scott Beckman, Michael Benjamin, Ryan Benjamin, Carter Bryant, Dom Doukakis, Myles McKinney, Ethan Seewald and Erik Witherspoon

New water polo coach

wants to continue run

Andrew Hoffman is well aware of the water polo program’s winning culture.

The first-year coach graduated from St. Charles in 2014 and was a member of state title teams in the fall of 2010, 2011 and 2013. The season was moved to the spring this year because of the pandemic, and coaches will vote in the coming weeks whether to make that shift permanent. 

The Cardinals also were state champions in 2014, 2018 and 2019. They were runners-up in 2016 and 2017.

“It’s definitely something that everyone expects to win,” said Hoffman, who replaced Geoff Gear after 13 seasons. “The goal of every one of our kids was to win it all. They’ve had high expectations for more than 10 years.”

Seniors Will Borchers, Will Elsrod, Austin Grzybicki and Donnie Richardson are top scoring threats along with juniors Ryan Alfred and Matthew Kravitz. 

Kravitz and Richardson also are top players on the defensive end, and senior Chase Bateman is in goal.

Sophomores Conner Lofthouse and Dannie Richardson also have impressed Hoffman.

“We need to work on recognizing and breaking down certain defenses,” said Hoffman, who was an assistant at Dayton Oakwood from 2015-18. “We’ve faced different defenses and we’ve been spending significant practice time on them. I’m excited that the team is at a point where we can work on higher-end concepts instead of the basics.”

The Cardinals won four of their first five matches.

WATER POLO

Coach: Andrew Hoffman, first season

Next contest: April 10-11 at Napoleon Courtney Fischer Sprint-Off Classic

Key athletes: Ryan Alfred, Chase Bateman, Will Borchers, Will Elsrod, Austin Grzybicki, Matt Kravitz and Donnie Richardson

Volleyball team looks

to gain experience

With just two players returning with much varsity experience in senior middle hitter/outside hitter Ben Franz and senior opposite hitter/setter Kian Haghnazari, seventh-year volleyball coach Ned Gruber expects his team to jell as the season progresses.

“We’re kind of in the same boat as everyone else after missing last season because of COVID,” Gruber said. “We have some new faces, and we’ll see who fits well together and what our best lineup is.”

Junior setter Miller Kuntz runs the offense, with junior Nick Bennison and freshman Jack Koesters at outside hitter. Seniors Zach McLimon and Josh Thomas are in the middle along with Franz.

“Miller has done a nice job in the preseason of running the offense,” Gruber said. “He’s done a good job of distributing the ball on time and in location. We have to continue to work on our system and our timing.”

The Cardinals lost three of their first four matches.

“One of the nice things about how we run our program is that we avoid specializing players early,” Gruber said. “They all learn how to pass, set and hit. Now is the time we start to specialize. That way, we have all of our guys that can play out of system and set the ball when they have to.”

VOLLEYBALL

Coach: Ned Gruber, seventh season

•Next match: April 8 at DeSales

Key athletes: Nick Bennison, Ben Franz, Kian Haghnazari, Jack Koesters and Miller Kuntz

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