Grandview Heights Roundup: Bobcats baseball team enters season with 'blank slate'

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Grandview's Brendan Cleary pitches during practice March 4. The senior also plays shortstop. The Bobcats are scheduled to open March 29 against visiting Westland and begin MSL-Ohio play April 5 at Columbus Academy.

Coach Tyler Fitzgerald is still working things out in his sixth season leading the Grandview Heights baseball program.

Not only did the Bobcats lose a season to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, they had a senior-laden squad primed for success. Those standouts have graduated, leaving Fitzgerald looking at all options to fill his lineup.

“With a blank slate, we want to give anyone a chance,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a lot of young talent and we had eight kids graduating. The next best available players have their true honest shot at playing for us.”

Fitzgerald said that the spring sports preseason comes in two categories — inside and outside practice.

“Baseball is unique because a lot of the preseason is inside in a gymnasium and then you have a scrimmage week, which usually gives us our first chance to evaluate the players outside,” he said. “That is like a second tryout for us.”

The only players with varsity experience are a pair of pitcher/outfielders in senior Johnny Clark and junior Jack Greer.

“We have a promising team with some promising young guys who are ready to play,” said Clark, a Capital commit. “We’ve been looking really good in the field, and we have a good energy level. We’re an energetic team.”

Senior Johnny Clark, a pitcher/outfielder and Capital commit, said the Bobcats feature “promising young guys who are ready to play” and are “an energetic team.”

Senior shortstop Brendan Cleary and sophomore second baseman Jack Cleary moved to the school district from the Chicago area.

Fitzgerald expects Greer and sophomore Jackson Larson (INF) to anchor the pitching staff.

Also in the running for playing time are seniors Paul Hatem (OF/P), Enzio Panzera (INF) and Jake Zimmerman (OF/P), juniors Luke Clark Moody (OF), Murphy Huffman (INF), Joe Kessler (OF), Max Mott (OF) and Ben Sterneker (OF/P), sophomore Jacob Larson (C) and freshmen Will Halberg (C) and Charlie Ticknor (INF/P).

“We have a group that loves baseball,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a lot of kids who are multisport athletes but they play baseball first. They’re hungry to get out on the field after losing a season. They know what it’s like to have a season ripped away from them.”

Grandview had been in Division III for several years, but was to drop to Division IV last season. This spring, the Bobcats are back in Division III.

“We go from being one of the biggest Division IV teams in the state to going back to Division III,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s tough because now we’re the smallest Division III school.”

The Bobcats are scheduled to open March 29 against visiting Westland. They will begin MSL-Ohio Division play April 5 at Columbus Academy.

INSIDE THE BOBCATS

Coach: Tyler Fitzgerald, sixth season 

Opener: March 29, Home vs. Westland

Key athletes: Johnny Clark, Brendan Cleary, Colin Cleary, Jack Greer and Jackson Larson

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen