DeSales Roundup: Aiden Cannon, Connor Huzicka powering Stallions baseball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Seniors Aiden Cannon (left) and Connor Huzicka have been two of the DeSales baseball team's top players this season. The longtime friends played youth baseball together in Gahanna and joined the Stallions' varsity team as sophomores.

As a lean 5-foot-10, 120-pound freshman at Gahanna, Connor Huzicka might have envisioned the college-bound baseball player he would become by his senior year.

For that to happen, Huzicka knew his plate would be full, literally and figuratively.

“I’d hit the ball from gap to gap, never anything for big power. I hit the weight room hard and I saw that power (last) summer. I knew I’d show off more power this season than I ever had,” said Huzicka, a middle infielder and pitcher. “When it came to (gaining) weight, it took eating about 4,000 calories (per day) and working out six days a week and drinking protein shakes constantly.”

The results are showing, as Huzicka was batting .338 with 20 hits and all three of the team’s home runs through 18 games to lead the Stallions’ offense along with classmate Aiden Cannon. Cannon had a team-leading .444 average with 20 hits, and DeSales was 6-11-1 overall and 2-2 in the CCL before playing Ready on April 30.

The longtime friends played youth baseball together in Gahanna and joined varsity as sophomores.

“It was tough to know what anyone was going to do going into this year and those two were no different. Even though they were on varsity as sophomores, they didn’t play a whole lot,” coach Tom Neubert said. “They’re going in with the right attitude. Aiden is doing extremely well at the plate and pitching well. Connor has been an excellent leader. His work ethic is second to none. I haven’t had too many kids who have worked as hard as he has over the past three years.”

Cannon and Huzicka combined for 14 hits in 42 at-bats two years ago as the Stallions reached a Division II district semifinal. Huzicka played in 12 games and had to sit out the second half of the season after transferring from Gahanna.

Cannon has played for the Columbus Sharks, Ohio Elite and Columbus Cobras summer teams in recent years, but recalled the time put in in his own yard leading up to this season.

“I definitely didn’t see (this season’s success) coming, but over the summer I spent a lot of time in our side yard at home with my dad hitting little golf balls or heavy balls every single day, getting my hands all calloused up and putting in the time, trying to focus on hitting the ball hard,” Cannon said.

DeSales wraps up league play with games May 7 at St. Charles and May 10 at home against Hartley. The district tournament draw is May 9.

Huzicka will play at Olney Central College in Illinois and major in business. Cannon will attend Ohio State, where he plans to major in biomedical engineering and eventually enter medical school.

“I always tell these kids that hard work pays off and it is paying off for them,” Neubert said. “They’ve put in three years of hard work within this program in the weight room, in the barn and out on the field. They’re both playing with a lot of confidence and believing in themselves.”

Cameron Hoying has been playing well as DeSales' setter. “We have some guys who can definitely attack the ball and Cam is starting to figure out who in what situations makes sense,” coach Andy Feltz said.

Boys volleyball team

finding ‘rhythm’

Boys volleyball coach Andy Feltz said he was unsure what to expect from his team this season only because he still was getting to know his players individually, but added he was more than pleased with a fast start.

DeSales was 11-2 overall before playing Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit and Stow-Munroe Falls on May 1 and finished CCL play at 5-1, tied for first with St. Charles, with a 25-15, 25-17, 21-25, 25-14 win at Watterson on April 27.

The Stallions gave themselves a chance at the league championship with a 25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 25-12 win at St. Charles on April 20, avenging a 26-24, 25-22, 21-25, 13-25, 15-11 home loss to the Cardinals 12 days earlier. 

“Once we started rolling into the season, this has been the team I thought we would have,” Feltz said. “We’ve finally caught a little bit of a rhythm. We’ve had some guys out here and there, but we’ve been full-go for a few weeks now and that’s showing. Volleyball is such a momentum game and we’ve been able to keep momentum on our side.”

Jude Agyapong and Jamie Momah have been the team’s top middle hitters, with Michael Cavanaugh on the outside. Cameron Hoying is the primary setter, stabilizing the lineup to the point that Feltz said he is doing the least substituting he has in several years.

“We have some guys who can definitely attack the ball and Cam is starting to figure out who in what situations makes sense,” Feltz said. “We want to get good matchups, find the hot hand and make the defense second-guess what’s coming. That’s been fun to watch.”

DeSales was ranked 10th in Division II in last week’s state coaches poll and was fourth among East Region teams, behind Worthington Kilbourne (sixth), Olentangy (eighth) and St. Charles (ninth).

Track teams prepare

for league meet

The boys track and field team will seek its second CCL championship in three seasons and the girls will vie for their first since 2013 when they play host to the league meet May 10 and 12.

Field events are scheduled for May 10, with track finals two days later.

Thrower Jack Laugherty is DeSales’ top returning finisher from the 2019 meet, when he placed second in the discus (121 feet). He exceeded that distance by more than nine feet April 7 during a season-opening tri-meet at Westerville South.

St. Charles will seek its sixth league championship in eight seasons, while Watterson has won the past four girls titles.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave