Baseball: Central Crossing Comets look to build bonds, gain experience
This season is a work in progress for the Central Crossing baseball team.
The Comets have limited varsity experience after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season, as senior Hayden Thompson (1B/OF) is the only player who saw varsity action in 2019.
“The product we put on the field in the beginning of the season will look much different than what we’ll have come tournament time,” 18th-year coach Scott Todd said. “We have to start building strong relationships in the dugout and that takes some time. That will be the biggest difference for us.”
Entering the season, none of the Comets’ pitchers had thrown a pitch during a varsity game. They are led by senior Jackson Phillips, who has committed to West Liberty. He will be joined on the mound by senior Brandon Woods, juniors Shane Baas, Marquis Loring, Kyle Martin, Raymond White and Chance Woods and sophomores Angel Abreu and Lucas Miller.
“We have nine pitchers as of right now that we feel can contribute for us at some point,” Todd said. “With rainouts and cold weather, you need to have at least five or six pitchers to win in game situations.”
Behind the plate will be a rotation of senior Benton Amon, junior Quintin Amon and Abreu, with Thompson and Miller at first, Abreu, Chance Woods, junior Calvin Rich and White at second, Loring and White at shortstop and senior Logan Worthington, Chance Woods and Abreu at third.
The outfield will be a combination of Phillips, Thompson, Miller, junior Austin Estep, Martin, Baas and Brandon Woods.
“We only have five seniors this year, so I’ve been focusing on leadership,” Thompson said. “We have a bunch of spots to fill and I want to see the younger people do well. We have to take every practice and every game one by one.”
INSIDE THE COMETS
•Coach: Scott Todd, 18th season
•Next game: April 6, home vs. Westland
•Key athletes: Angel Abreu, Shane Baas, Marquis Loring, Jackson Phillips and Hayden Thompson
to return to field
For a program accustomed to success, Grove City coach Ryan Alexander realizes it was a long wait for his team to return to the field to seek redemption.
The Greyhounds finished 12-16 in 2019, their first losing season since 2007 when they went 12-14.
“We’re excited about this group,” said Alexander, who is in his 12th season. “They’re a great group of kids, they work hard and they do things the right way. They’re great students in the classroom. We’re excited to have these guys represent Grove City.”
The Greyhounds return just one player from their 2019 team in junior Jackson Ware (OF/P).
Alexander expects Ware and senior Ethan Conley (SS/P) to lead the pitching staff.
Other seniors are Tyler Biddle (3B), Matt Kinney (1B), Matt Johnson (P), Sam Roy (C), Preston Todd (OF), Matthew Weaver (P) and Thatcher Wilson (P).
Todd is the son of Central Crossing’s coach.
Also looking to contribute are juniors Ty Clifton (1B), Gabe Duncan (OF), Trent Ruffing (2B), Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider (OF) and Ryan Roffe (P), sophomores Connor Hix (C), Zak Sigman (P/OF) and Grady Speegle (C/INF) and freshman Keegan Holmstrom (P/1B).
“I really like the cohesiveness of this group,” Alexander said. “They’re willing to do all the little things. Our pitching has a chance to be really good. At the plate, they’ve been willing to battle and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to try to move runners and do the little things that count.”
Grove City will compete in the OCC-Ohio Division with Gahanna, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westland.
“This division will be one of the best divisions in the state,” Alexander said.
The Greyhounds, who opened March 27 against Central Crossing and Olentangy Orange, begin league play April 12 at New Albany.
INSIDE THE GREYHOUNDS
•Coach: Ryan Alexander, 12th season
•Next game: April 8, home vs. Groveport
•Key athletes: Tyler Biddle, Ethan Conley, Sam Roy, Preston Todd and Jackson Ware
Eagles look to
Grove City Christian coach A.J. McCampbell believes his team has the potential to deliver a successful season.
The Eagles opened March 30 at Grandview.
“We’re going to learn in the beginning of the season,” said McCampbell, who is in his seventh season. “If you look at our roster, we might look like an old team, but we’re not.”
Grove City Christian, which finished 11-10 overall and 5-7 in the MSL-Cardinal in 2019, opens league play April 5 at home against Harvest Prep.
Corning Miller has joined the league, which the Eagles won in 2018.
“The goal is to compete in every single thing that we can do,” McCampbell said. “Step one is to compete for a league title and after that see what happens.”
Grove City Christian returns three letterwinners from 2019 in seniors Jake Bapst (OF/C/P) and Josiah Phillips (2B/SS/OF) and junior Connor Benson (2B/C/P/1B).
McCampbell expects senior Andrew Heins (C/3B/P/1B) to be a key contributor in his first year with the program. Other seniors are Josiah Bever (OF), Carson Dick (2B/OF), Collin May (3B/DH) and Kyle Reed (2B).
Also looking to contribute are sophomores A.J. Beard (1B/3B/P) and Connor Thompson (1B/3B) and freshmen Liam Benson (OF), Corbin Dick (2B/OF), Andrew Gallant (2B/3B/SS), Jason Graham (OF), Evan Hanks (OF/1B), Michael Holland (2B/P/OF), Brayden Ison (2B/SS) and John Lautenschleger (OF/P).
“I keep telling myself no matter what happens this year, no matter the record, anything, it’s just nice to have a season,” McCampbell said. “Playing baseball makes this year a win compared to last year and the hurt that was the end of that.”
INSIDE THE EAGLES
•Coach: A.J. McCampbell, seventh season
•Next game: April 3, at Marion Pleasant
•Key athletes: Jake Bapst, Connor Benson, Andrew Heins and Josiah Phillips