Notebook: Worthington Kilbourne Wolves baseball team charts positive course

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Junior Cole Archual hit .350 and was second-team all-league for Kilbourne, which finished 15-12 overall and 9-5 in the OCC-Capital under first-year coach Ryan Sparks.

At the beginning of his first season leading the Worthington Kilbourne baseball team, Ryan Sparks said he and his coaching staff hoped to establish a strong culture as a foundation for success.

Sparks thinks they’ve accomplished that goal.

“Our coaching staff was pleased with the results, and we were really pleased with the seniors’ ability to buy in and establish expectations and culture and kind of believe in what the coaches were preaching and what we were trying to sell,” he said.

The results showed on the field, Sparks said, as Kilbourne finished 15-12 overall and placed third (9-5) in the OCC-Capital Division behind champion Westerville South (12-2). 

Kilbourne advanced to the second round of the Division I district tournament, where the 24th-seeded Wolves’ season ended with a 1-0 loss at 11th-seeded Olentangy Berlin. 

“Having a winning season was awesome,” Sparks said. “But I felt like the buy-in and the excitement for the years to come was a huge success as well.” 

Kilbourne lost its first five games, but Sparks said the Wolves found confidence during a nine-game winning streak. 

“I think that really helped our kids realize that if you play baseball the right way or with the formula we believe works (good things will happen),” he said. “Once they saw it start to play out on the field I think that helped them start to realize that they had what it takes to win a lot of baseball games.”

Junior pitcher and infielder Andrew Oh hit .431 with 28 hits and 21 RBI while going 9-1 with a 3.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 46 innings. He was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.

Junior pitcher and infielder Jackson Judy was 8-4 and had a 3.74 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 43 innings. He hit .299 with 23 hits and 12 RBI and was honorable mention all-league. 

Also enjoying strong seasons at the plate were junior infielder Brady Struewing (.388, 33 hits, 30 RBI, 3 home runs), junior infielder McKay Whitaker (.346 average, 28 hits, 23 RBI, 2 home runs), junior outfielder Cole Archual (.350 average, 28 hits) and senior outfielder Wesley Frank (.308, 28 hits, 2 home runs). 

Struewing was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Archual was second-team all-league and Whitaker was special mention.

Junior Caleb Kirker hit .307 with 13 RBI and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district for Thomas, which finished 11-15 overall and 7-8 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Thomas baseball team

struggled down stretch

After a 9-5 start, the Thomas baseball team lost 10 of its final 12 games to finish 11-15 overall and 7-8 in the OCC-Cardinal.

In the Division I district tournament, the 16th-seeded Cardinals lost 4-0 to visiting and 23rd-seeded Dublin Jerome in the second round May 19. 

“We kind of ran out of gas ultimately,” coach Chris Olson said. “It was a good learning experience for having so many new guys that were new to, whether it be high school baseball or even just guys that maybe are upperclassmen that because of missing the 2020 season, they were getting used to the grind of the season ultimately.”

Olson said the seven-player senior class of Evan Kendall, Brayden Lanter, Nick Moore, Daley Overstreet, Patrick Shirey, Khalil Vazquez and Vincent Ziliak provided strong leadership.

“We kind of lacked, the last several years, kind of the family dynamic in terms of just the dugout and what it takes to be a collective group,” Olson said. “We had really good leadership (this season). And I think now, these guys that are going to become seniors next year, they now kind of have the blueprint of what it looks like in terms of what it means to be a good leader.”

Expected returnees such as junior pitcher and catcher Gannon Wentz, junior outfielder and pitcher Josh Rock and junior infielder Caleb Kirker will be better-suited next year to endure the mental and physical demands of a season, Olson said. 

“It becomes a long season, ultimately,” he said. “It’s a tough grind and you need to show up every single day and bring it every day. I think it was a good learning experience for them and it’s something to build off of for next season.” 

Kirker hit .307 with 23 hits and 13 RBI. Senior outfielder Nick Moore hit .268 with 19 hits and Rock hit .267 with 20 hits, two home runs and 14 RBI.

Wentz went 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA, 52 strikeouts and two saves in 39 1/3 innings. Rock was 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA, 51 strikeouts and one save in 49 2/3 innings. 

Kirker and Rock were first-team all-league, while Wentz and Moore were second-team all-league. Kirker also was honorable mention all-district. 

Freshman infielder Logan Graves was special mention all-league, and freshman pitcher Nick Clay was honorable mention. 

Thomas tennis team

feeling ‘motivated’

The Thomas boys tennis team entered the season with only senior Will Newberry having varsity experience. 

While that contributed to a 1-4 record in the OCC-Cardinal, the Cardinals went 7-3 overall and won several matches in a Division I sectional that concluded May 15 at Reynoldsburg. 

With a year of experience under their belts, coach Lisa Miller said the Cardinals hope to take another step forward next spring. 

“We have a very motivated team (that wants) to continue to get better,” she said. 

Newberry went 7-2 at first singles and advanced to a sectional quarterfinal. He also earned OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year honors.

Miller said it remains undecided as to which player will replace Newberry at first singles, as well as who will fill the other singles and doubles spots. 

“I think it depends on how much the players work over the year, because they’re all fairly close,” she said. “I think it’s wide open.” 

Sophomore Sebastian Johnson in singles and junior Matt Hughes and sophomore Trent Milmeister in doubles also advanced to quarterfinals at sectional. The doubles team of sophomore Matt Riegert and freshman Elijah Nisthauz reached the second round. 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

KILBOURNE BASEBALL 

•Record: 15-12 overall 

•OCC-Capital standings: Westerville South (12-2), Canal Winchester (11-3), Kilbourne (9-5), Dublin Scioto (8-6), Big Walnut (6-6) Westerville North (5-7), Delaware (3-11), Franklin Heights (0-14)

•Seniors lost: Macain Eldridge, Wesley Frank, Mike Lashuk, Brady Struewing, Noah Wiley, Brian Wilson and Nathan Zinn 

•Key returnees: Cole Archual, Jackson Judy, Andrew Oh and McKay Whitaker

•Postseason: Defeated Delaware 7-1; lost to Olentangy Berlin 1-0 in second round of Division I district tournament

THOMAS BASEBALL 

•Record: 11-15 overall

•OCC-Cardinal standings: Hilliard Darby (12-3), Olentangy (9-6), Berlin and Thomas (both 7-8), Marysville (6-9), Dublin Jerome (4-11)

•Seniors lost: Evan Kendall, Brayden Lanter, Nick Moore, Daley Overstreet, Patrick Shirey, Khalil Vazquez and Vincent Ziliak 

•Key returnees: Nick Clay, Logan Graves, Caleb Kirker, Josh Rock, Jerens Sanchez and Gannon Wentz 

•Postseason: Lost to Jerome 4-0 in second round of Division I district tournament

THOMAS TENNIS 

•Record: 7-3 overall

•OCC-Cardinal standings: Jerome (5-0), Olentangy (4-1), Berlin (3-2), Darby (2-3), Thomas (1-4), Marysville (0-5)

•Senior lost: Will Newberry 

•Key returnees: Matt Hughes, Sebastian Johnson, Trent Milmeister, Elijah Nisthauz and Matt Riegert