Notebook: Grove City Greyhounds baseball team enjoyed strong season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Grove City senior Sam Roy (14) consoles freshman Keegan Holmstrom after a 2-1, 11-inning loss to visiting Lancaster in a Division I district final May 27. The Greyhounds finished 21-9 overall and won the OCC-Ohio title at 11-4.

Despite a disappointing finish to the season, the Grove City baseball team continued to show it belonged among the area’s top programs. 

The third-seeded Greyhounds advanced to a Division I district final, where it lost 2-1 in 11 innings to sixth-seeded Lancaster on May 27 at home to finish 21-9 overall. 

“We have to move on,” coach Ryan Alexander said. “We have to find a way and we’ll get back here and we’ll figure out how to win this thing again. We don’t like to take too many days off, so we’re going to get back after it again soon.” 

Grove City went 11-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to win the league title, a game ahead of runner-up New Albany (10-5). 

“We had a great season,” senior catcher Sam Roy said. “Everyone on the team bought into the game plan and did anything to win. We didn’t finish the year how we wanted to, but that’s baseball. This season was a blast and the most fun I’ve had playing baseball.” 

Junior Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider (OF) batted .370 with 24 runs scored and 18 RBI and was named first-team all-district and all-league. 

Senior Ethan Conley (P/SS) was 6-2 and had a 1.47 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 11 walks in 47 2/3 innings. He also was first-team all-district and all-league. 

Freshman Keegan Holmstrom (P/1B) hit .422 with 19 RBI and 19 runs scored and was first-team all-district and second-team all-league. On the mound, he was 5-1 and had a 2.05 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 20 walks in 58 innings. 

“He put together as good of a season as anyone I’ve ever had,” Alexander said of Holmstrom. 

Roy batted .371 with 29 runs scored and 11 RBI and was first-team all-district and second-team all-league. 

Junior Ty Clifton (1B) hit .415 with 22 RBI and was second-team all-league. 

Junior Jackson Ware (OF/P) was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, while sophomore Zak Sigman (P/OF) was special mention all-league and senior Tyler Biddle (3B) was honorable mention all-league. 

Alexander was Coach of the Year in the league. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Gabe Duncan (1B), Ryan Roffe (P) and Trent Ruffing (2B) and sophomores Connor Hix (C) and Grady Speegle (C/INF). 

“A lot of people were questioning just how good this team was going be, and I think every guy on the roster answered that question and showed just how amazing this program is and can be,” Roy said. 

•Junior Bryanna Trout of the Grove City Christian girls track and field team turned in a strong showing in the Division III regional meet May 26 and 28 at Chillicothe Southeastern to earn her first trip to state. 

Trout finished first in the 300-meter hurdles (46.44 seconds) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.41). She also was fifth in the 100 (12.92), as the top four finishers in each event advanced to state June 4 and 5 at Westerville North. 

“I had encouragement,” Trout said. “I knew that with my 100 hurdles I was in the top four and I was going to make it to state. I had that hope, but I had no idea I was going to make it for the 300 hurdles. I just gave it everything I had.” 

Abbie McDonald finished seventh in the discus (105 feet, 4 inches) and Alayna Riggs did not record a height in the high jump. 

The Eagles finished 13th (22 points) behind champion Mount Gilead (82) as 38 teams scored. 

For the boys, Jaylin Walker was fifth in the long jump (20-1/2), accounting for his team’s four points as it tied for 34th behind champion Ashland Crestview (74) as 43 teams scored. 

—Frank DiRenna 

•Three members of the Grove City girls track team competed in the Division I regional meet May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North. 

Brooke Armbrust was seventh in the long jump (16-9 1/2) to account for the Greyhounds’ two points. Morgan Waterman was ninth in the high jump (5-0) and Leah Boswell was 16th in the discus (84-1). 

The top four finishers in each event advanced to state June 4 and 5 at Hilliard Darby. 

Freshman Esther-Faith Henn competed in the seated division in the 100, 400 and 800 at state. 

The boys team had no regional competitors.

—Frank DiRenna

•The Central Crossing boys track team had one participant in the Division I regional meet. 

Junior Joey Taylor competed in the 800 and finished 15th (2:08.63).

The girls squad had no regional competitors.

—Scott Hennen

•Brent Cahill has been named Central Crossing boys basketball coach, pending school board approval.

He previously coached Northridge (2005-08) and Jonathan Alder (2011-19).

“I was looking to get back into it, and I saw Neil (Hohman) stepped down,” Cahill said. “I communicate with a lot of people down there and I had feelers in Central Crossing. I wanted to be at a place that was close to home and had a lot of potential.”

Cahill was 32-32 at Northridge before going 118-69 at Jonathan Alder with two league titles.

“The interview committee was impressed with Brent’s vision for the program and its future at all levels,” athletics director Jon Marshall said. “He also has a familiarity with the Grove City area.”

Cahill, who is a 1996 graduate of Grove City, lives in Hilliard and is the brother-in-law of Grove City football coach Matt Shaul.

“There were three things attached to coming here,” Cahill said. “The location was great, I really liked their facilities and I have a connection to D.J. Norris, who runs the South-Western City Schools youth program.”

Last season, the Comets went 3-19 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Buckeye. They were 43-94 overall and 18-46 in the OCC in six seasons under Hohman.

“The good coaches tailor what they do around the talents of (their) players,” Cahill said. “Our first official summer practice was June 1. All of my teams have been solid defensively and have the defense complement the offense.

“We’ll work on a basic shell of what we’ll do this winter. We want to really focus on competitiveness and how hard we play this summer.”

—Scott Hennen

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

GROVE CITY BASEBALL  

Record: 21-9 overall  

OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (11-4), New Albany (10-5), Gahanna, Pickerington North and Westerville Central (8-7), Westland (0-15)  

Seniors lost: Tyler Biddle, Ethan Conley, Matt Johnson, Matt Kinney, Sam Roy, Preston Todd, Matthew Weaver and Thatcher Wilson 

Key returnees: Ty Clifton, Keegan Holmstrom, Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider, Zak Sigman and Jackson Ware 

Postseason: Defeated Hilliard Bradley 6-1; def. Dublin Jerome 2-0; lost to Lancaster 2-1 (11 innings) in Division I district final