Heavy rain on Saturday morning forced the postponement of all area games.
BEAVERCREEK — A lone elderly man sat in his car outside the centerfield fence at Rotary Field on Saturday morning. Heavy rain poured around him and the surrounding Rotary Park, as it did across all of the Miami Valley. Perhaps out of blind hope, he waited for what was to have been a doubleheader between Beavercreek and Kenton Ridge’s softball teams, the season opener for both.
The only hardball that could be seen in the Dayton area on Saturday morning was a DVR of the MSNBC show. All area prep baseball and softball games were postponed due to the weather.
It was far from a good start to the spring sports season. Temperatures hovered in the 30s, and cold rain turned to snow as the day progressed. Opening day for baseball seemed more like an opening day for basketball.
But hope springs eternal. The National Weather Service calls for a high of 64 degrees tomorrow with mostly sunny skies in what will turn out to be the opening day for many area softball and baseball teams.
Hope also springs for area teams to repeat (our outdo) the good performances of 2013.
Shawnee’s baseball team will try to make a deeper tournament run this year. The Braves finished two games under. 500 in 2012 and lost three of their last five regular season games in 2013.
But the Braves turned it on in the tournament. Shawnee advanced to a regional final in Division II and lost 6-5 to Alder.
The hitting returns for Shawnee this season. The Braves’ best hitter is back in Joey Chapman. Chapman hit .411 last season and led the team with 28 RBI and with a .495 on-base percentage. Two of the Braves’ other top four hitters from last season are back in Evan Lyons (.298 batting, .397 OBP, 22 RBI) and Andrew Tincher (.297, .381 OBP).
Shawnee will need to replace its pitching. Its top three pitchers graduated. The top returning pitcher for the Braves is senior Zeth Paul, who had a 1.75 ERA in 16 innings pitched last year.
Shawnee will try to contend in a stacked Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division. Tippecanoe, who advanced to the Division II regional semifinals last season, returns its two top hitters and best pitcher from last season. Tecumseh returns its second-best hitter and pitcher in Jake Nicewaner. The Red Devils and Arrows finished first and second, respectively, in the Kenton last year.
The Braves’ baseball team won’t be alone in trying to best last season’s success on the diamond. Shawnee’s softball team will be looking to break a two-year losing streak in sectional final games and advance further in the tournament. Shawnee will also try to challenge Kenton heavyweights Kenton Ridge and Tippecanoe in the league.
Emily McKillip returns in the circle for Shawnee. McKillip had a 1.39 ERA and .78 WHIP in last season’s 21-6 campaign. McKillip led the CBC with 247 strikeouts last season.
Eight of the Braves’ top nine hitters from last season return. Leading the way is sophomore Lauren Linn, who hit .481 with a .539 OBP a year ago. Linn led the Braves with 25 RBI. Also back for Shawnee is Grace Miller (.457 batting average, .505 OBP, 18 RBI).
Tippecanoe pitcher Bri Eichbaum returns to lead the Red Devils. Eichbaum had a 3.95 ERA and 127 strikeouts last season in the Red Devils’ 19-9 campaign. Tippecanoe’s top hitter in Cassie Gingerich (.467 batting average, 16 stolen bases) also returns.
The toughest competition for the Braves and Red Devils for the Kenton title will likely come from the 2013 Division II state runner-up: Kenton Ridge.
The Cougars have the pieces to capture the Kenton title for the second-straight season and make another deep postseason run.
Courtney Lopez returns in the circle for Kenton Ridge. The junior had a 1.89 ERA in 192 innings last year with a 1.05 WHIP and 143 strikeouts. Lopez was one of the Cougars’ best hitters as well, with a 3.81 batting average and .450 on-base percentage.
Three of Kenton Ridge’s top four hitters from last season return. Learic Kinser is the top returning hitter. Kinser, an outfielder last season, hit .467 with a .511 on-base percentage. Kinser had 22 RBI and led the Cougars with 17 stolen bases. Brittany Harting (.407 batting average, .430 OBP) and Mykee Holtz (.398, .430) also return.
Time will tell what area teams win conference titles or make postseason runs this year.
The weather may not be good for hardball in March, but one thing is for teams. Hope springs for the upcoming season.
Listen to prep softball and baseball on Top Billing Sports
Top Billing Sports’ will again be Clark County’s best choice for live baseball and softball coverage this season.
We’ll again feature Kenton Ridge’s softball team with five broadcasts, including games against Springfield, Tecumseh, Shawnee, and Tippecanoe. We’ll also have Northeastern vs. Greenon at Fifth Third Field and Shawnee vs. Chaminade Julienne at Athletes in Action in baseball action, among other games.