Notebook: St. Charles Cardinals baseball team trying to find footing

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Erik Witherspoon and St. Charles were 8-9 overall and 1-3 in the CCL after losing to Watterson 3-1 on April 28. “We’re getting into the heart of things, and we’re still trying to find our way,” coach Ray Benjamin said.

As the Division I postseason approaches, the St. Charles baseball team is looking for more consistency in its game.

The Cardinals were 8-9 overall and 1-3 in the CCL after losing to Watterson 3-1 on April 28, leaving coach Ray Benjamin looking for answers.

“We’re getting into the heart of things, and we’re still trying to find our way,” he said. “We’re productive some days and not in others.”

St. Charles is getting over some early season injuries but had won four of six games before playing Watterson. Those missing time included shortstop Erik Witherspoon, second baseman Michael Benjamin and center fielder Ryan Benjamin. The latter two are the coach’s twin sons.

“We are starting to get healthy,” coach Benjamin said. “In our first handful of games we were playing without our starting shortstop, center fielder and second baseman, and they were also our No. 1-, 2- and 3-hole hitters.

“Getting them back has been good, and even though we’re not 100 percent healthy it’s go time. Guys are playing hurt, but we’re still doing good things.”

Through 16 games, Ethan Seewald led the pitching staff at 1-3 with a 3.27 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 14 walks in 25 2/3 innings. Charlie Smith was 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 innings.

“We’d like to see our pitching get better,” coach Benjamin said. “We’ve had great outings but have yet to reach (our) potential. Ethan is still our No. 1, and Charlie Griffith, a freshman that we brought up from j.v., has thrown decently well for us."

Ryan Benjamin led the Cardinals with a .355 batting average and had eight RBI and eight runs, while Michael Benjamin was batting .340 with seven RBI and 11 runs. Carter Bryant was batting .327 with 10 RBI and 11 runs, and Witherspoon was hitting .297 with five RBI and nine runs.

Scott Beckman was batting .289 with eight RBI, eight runs and a team-high five stolen bases, and Dom Doukakis was hitting .279 with 10 RBI and eight runs.

“We need to keep getting better every day,” coach Benjamin said. “We’ve been putting the ball in play offensively and getting guys on, but we haven’t consistently shown up to the park and gotten five, six or seven hits. Though we did get seven against (Dublin) Scioto (in an 8-2 win April 24).

“It’s always different. We’ll have the Nos. 1 and 3 (batters) have two hits but Nos. 2 and 4 can’t hit and then that will reverse the next day. You have to put the ball in play to give yourself a chance.”

•Josiah Old and Tim Old have led a powerful lineup, as the Bexley baseball team was batting .350 through 17 games.

Josiah Old paced the Lions with a .447 batting average and a .557 on-base percentage and also had 16 RBI, 18 runs and 10 stolen bases. Bexley was 8-9 overall before playing Central Crossing on April 29 and 6-4 in the MSL-Ohio before facing Wellington on May 3.

Tom Old was batting .423 with 12 RBI, 15 runs, eight stolen bases and a team-high eight doubles, while Joey Shapiro was hitting .413 with 16 RBI and 16 runs and Jamey Wright had a .395 batting average with nine RBI and 16 runs. 

Jon Spiess was batting .333 with nine RBI and a team-leading 20 runs, Ryan Bernstein was batting .327 with 16 RBI and six runs, Tommy Bloebaum was batting .315 with 14 RBI, 17 runs and a team-high 11 stolen bases and Jackson Remeis had a .310 batting average with eight RBI and nine runs.

•The St. Charles volleyball team defeated Hartley 25-21, 25-19, 25-20 on April 27 to clinch a share of the CCL title with DeSales, as both finished 5-1.

Despite losing four of their first five matches, the Cardinals were 11-6 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on May 4.

“We started out with a very difficult schedule against some of the best teams in the state, and since then we’ve been able to pull ourselves together as a team and play as a much more cohesive unit,” assistant coach Joe Gruber said. “Lack of experience is a major issue since our players lost an entire year of development (to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic). We only have one player on our roster, junior setter Miller Kuntz, with any varsity minutes (in 2019), and those were very limited as a defensive specialist.”

Kuntz averaged 9.8 assists per game against Hartley, and outside hitter Nick Bennison averaged 4.1 kills.

“It’s been a challenge to get everyone up to the speed of the varsity game,” Gruber said. “The credit definitely goes to the players for putting their heads down and going to work with a positive attitude after a very tough start to the season.”

•Midfielders Grace Heilman and Mikayla Williams have led the Bexley girls lacrosse team in most categories.

Williams led in scoring with 48 goals and eight assists and also had a team-high 29 ground balls through eight games, while Heilman had 36 goals, eight assists and 20 ground balls.

“Mikayla Williams and Grace Heilman continue to be instrumental in the midfield and on both the attack and defensive ends,” said coach Jackie Lund, whose team was 6-2-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the Central Independent League after beating Hartley 16-14 on April 27. “Swing players Kara Kilbourne and Noa Pitstick have played a crucial role on defense because of some injuries on our varsity players.”

Midfielder/attacker Emma Magee had 14 goals and five assists, and attacker Lillian Hoyer had eight goals and two assists. Goalie Molly Esque had 85 saves.

Morgan Halpern had 39 goals and 17 assists during Columbus School for Girls' 7-3 start.

•Four freshmen have been the top scoring threats for the Columbus School for Girls lacrosse team, which had won four in a row and was 7-3 overall and 2-1 in the CIL before playing Watterson on April 29.

Attacker Morgan Halpern had 39 goals and 17 assists through 10 games, followed by midfielder Elizabeth Burgess (29 goals, 9 assists), midfielder Mia Donaldson (23 goals, 11 assists) and midfielder Sarah Alexander (22 goals, 3 assists).

Senior goalie Via Barry-Wilson had 72 saves.

“I think the one thing we want to work on going into the end of the season is consistency and coming out fast at the start of the game,” coach Samantha Arey said.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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