LEFTY … Archbold senior Rigo Ramos and the Archbold Bluestreaks are considered the top contender to knock Bryan out of the top spot in the NWOAL.
With both teams returning key components from last year, the Bryan Golden Bears and Archbold Bluestreaks are expected to be the top two teams in this year’s league race. Bryan took the league championship last year by going 7-0 in league play, including beating Archbold 2-0 in their head-to-head matchup.
After finishing as league runner-up, the Bluestreaks made it all the way to the Division III Regional Semifinal where they lost 4-3 to Columbus Academy. The teams will get a look at each other early in this season as Bryan travels to Archbold to open NWOAL play on April 8th.
Here are the team previews in order of last year’s final league standings:
1. Bryan (19-5, 7-0 in NWOAL; Lost to Wapakoneta 12-5 in the Division II District Semifinals); Head Coach: Jeff Inselmann-8th Season
Key Losses: Zac Nobis (OF/P)-1st Team All-District OF, Eli Tressler (OF)-Honorable Mention All-District OF, Alex Morr (INF), Jake Spiess (OF)
Key Returners: Connor Lemons-Sr. (INF/P), Nate Miller-Jr. (C/OF/P, 1st Team All-Ohio Catcher), Logan Clemens-Jr. (INF/P, 2nd Team All-Ohio Infielder), Zach Pittman-Sr. (INF/P, 2nd Team All-District Pitcher), Benny Roebuck-Jr. (INF/P, 1st Team All-District Pitcher)
Promising Newcomers: Zach Dye (Sr.-OF), Ethan Khandaker (Sr.-INF/P), Noah Tressler (Jr.-C/INF/OF/P), Brevin Deckrosh (So.-INF/OF/P), Nolan Kidston (So.-INF/P), Keith Huard (So.-INF)
The Golden Bears will look to replace eight seniors who graduated from last year’s NWOAL champions but do have eight lettermen returning. Bryan is coming off a State ACME Baseball title and that as resulted in high expectations entering the 2019 season. “We expect to contend for the NWOAL title and get back to Districts and hopefully beyond to the State Tournament”, commented Inselmann who is beginning his 8th season as head coach of the Bears.
Inselmann points to team chemistry, defense, and pitching depth as strengths for this year’s ballclub, but he will be looking for consistency at the bottom of the lineup.
“As I look at the league race this season, I believe that Archbold along with our squad are projected at the top with a number of key starters back. However, I truly believe any team in the league can beat anyone on any given night. It should make for a very exciting league race”, he added.
2. Archbold (24-6, 6-1 in NWOAL; Lost to Columbus Academy 4-3 in the Division III Regional Semifinals); Head Coach: Dick Selgo-11th Season
Key Losses: Brandon Miller (P/1B, 1st Team NWOAL), Bryce Williams (2B, 1st Team NWOAL), Gabe Petersen (C, 2nd Team NWOAL), Nic Rodriguez (LF, Hon. Mention NWOAL), Bryson Taylor (P, Hon. Mention NWOAL), Trevor Rupp (P/3B, Hon. Mention NWOAL
Key Returners: Rigo Ramos-Sr. (P/1B, 3.27 ERA; 4-1), Jeron Williams-Sr. (SS, .330 avg., 31 RBIs), Kade Kern-Jr. (.402 avg., 36 RBIs), TJ Rice-Sr. (P/3B, .385 avg., 14 RBIs, 3.23 ERA; 3-2)
Promising Newcomers: Clay Nafziger-Sr (INF), Kreighton Sims-Sr. (P/1B), Drake Mohring-Jr. (1B)
Archbold has been a powerhouse in Northwest Ohio with three consecutive District Championships and averaging 20 wins a year over the past six seasons. The Bluestreaks will be challenged again this season with a strong non-league schedule that includes games against Defiance, Perrysburg, Anthony Wayne, Bowling Green, and Toledo Central Catholic.
“Our team is looking forward to the season with high expectations”, said Head Coach Dick Selgo adding that he considers Bryan the league favorites this year. “We lost six all-league players to graduation. All six of those players had a huge impact on our success last season. We have good overall balance between pitching, hitting, and defense. We have 10 seniors and good depth so that will allow us to use some different lineups depending on who is pitching”.
3. Swanton (14-9, 4-3 in NWOAL; Lost to Eastwood 1-0 in Division III District Semifinals); Head Coach: Tim McCarthy-6th Season
Key Losses: Zach Bloom (P/IF, 1st Team All-NWOAL; 3-Year Letterwinner)
Key Returners: Roman Epley-Sr. (IF/P, 39 IP, 1.47 ERA; .414 Avg., 2 HR, 22 RBIs), Michael Lawniczak-Sr. (C, .292 Avg, 14 RBIs), Xavier Williams-Sr. (OF, .344 Avg., 20 R, 11 SB), Hunter Mix (IF/P, .342 Avg, 17 RBIs, 9 SB)
Promising Newcomers: Bill Nowakowski-Jr. (P/IF), Devon Crouse-So. (OF/C)
Coming off a third-place finish last year in the NWOAL, this year’s team will have plenty of experience to turn to. “We have a very experienced team with ten seniors. Offensively we return 3 of our top 4 hitters in Roman Epley, Hunter Mix, and Michael Lawniczak. We will be without Xavier Williams for most of, if not all, of the season so that leaves a great void in CF and lineup that needs to be filled”, commented Head Coach Tim McCarthy.
Swanton faces a very challenging non-league schedule with hopes that will make them battle tested for the NWOAL portion of the schedule. McCarthy considers Bryan and Archbold the league favorites but thinks several teams can contend for the league title.
4. Liberty Center (13-8, 3-4 in NWOAL; Lost to Tinora 12-2 in Division III Sectional Semifinals); Head Coach: Ryan Zeiter-5th Season
Key Losses: Ethan Cramer-C, Lucas Frankforther-P
Key Returners: Jarrett Krugh-Sr. (UTL), Austin Like-Sr. (CF), Conner Sonnenberg-Sr. (LF), Max Weaver-Sr. (OF), Gabriel Hinton-Sr. (2B/P), Carter Burdue-Jr. (OF), Trent Murdock-Jr. (3B)
Promising Newcomers: Brady Gerken-Sr. (UTL), Dylan Matthews-So. (C), Zane Garber-So. (1B)
The Tigers will look to build off last season’s 13-8 record with the help of 12 returning letter winners and ten incoming freshmen under fifth-year head coach Ryan Zeiter. “With 12 returning letter winners, our depth at each position should be very strong for us this year. Having seven seniors with experience should help us out with leadership. We do have some spots to fill from graduation and we have some key players that are still working through some injuries”, commented Zeiter.
Zeiter looks for a competitive NWOAL race with Swanton, Archbold, and Bryan being the first three teams he mentioned as contenders for the league crown.
5. Wauseon (9-12, 3-4 in NWOAL; Lost to Van Wert 10-0 in Division II Sectionals); Head Coach: Trent Thomas-12th Season
Key Losses: Brooks Gype (P/1B), CJ Moser (P/C), Everett Bueter (P/UTL), Carter Stump (P/IF), Justus Chapa (P/IF)
Key Returners: Eric Parker-Sr. (P/UTL), Joey Shema-Sr. (UTL), Trent Armstrong-Sr. (OF), Levi Krasula-Sr. (IF), Trevor Rodriguez-Sr. (1B), Sean Brock-Jr. (IF/P), Connar Penrod-So. (IF/P)
Promising Newcomers: Cody Figy-Jr. (UTL), Jaden Conrad-Jr. (OF/P), Jameson Gray-Jr. (OF), Ethan Glover-Jr. (UTL)
The Indians look to return to their winning ways this season and for the first time in couple years their start to the season wasn’t delayed by a lengthy tournament run by boys’ basketball. “We have seven returning letterwinners from last season but the competition for positions is wide open. We will have several younger players competing for varsity time that will have to mature quickly”, said Head Coach Trent Thomas.
Thomas feels the NWOAL will be competitive as ever this spring. “Bryan is the team to beat having most of their starters returning and many of their top pitchers back from a team that went undefeated in league play last season. Every game will be very difficult in the league and we hope to have an opportunity to be competing for a championship at the end of the league season”, he added.
6. Delta (10-14, 3-4 in the NWOAL; Lost to Eastwood 7-0 in Division III Sectional Finals); Head Coach Damon Mattimore-7th Season
Key Losses: Gabe Freeman (1st Team All-NWOAL), Jason Beverly (2nd Team All-NWOAL), Robby Arrendondo (Hon. Mention NWOAL), Colin Rouleau (Hon. Mention NWOAL), Logan Albring, Logan Echler
Key Returners: Kayden Kurth-Sr. (P/INF), Tristian Saeger-Sr. (OF/C), Austin Michael-So. (P/INF/C), Jayce Heilmniak-So. (P/C), Hunter Hamilton-So. (P/INF)
Promising Newcomers: Jacob Schneider-Sr., Dalton Richards-Sr., Will McQueen-Sr., Shawn Pederson-Sr., Chase Cooper-Jr., Drew Clifton-Jr., Tervor Wittes-Jr., Chase Stickley-So.
It’ll be an inexperienced Delta Panther ballclub this season with the graduation of four all-league performers including their top pitcher Gabe Freeman who was 7-1 last year with a 0.55 ERA and 84 strikeouts. Head Coach Damon Mattimore has liked what he has seen from his young Panthers so far. “The team has real good work ethic and they’re working well together. “But we’re real young with a lot of players not having much experience at the varsity level”, said Mattimore.
Regarding the NWOAL race, Mattimore feels Bryan and Archbold will be the teams to beat but feels his team will be able to compete with the top teams in the league adding that any of the teams in the league can beat anybody else on any given day.
7. Evergreen (3-16, 2-5 in NWOAL; Lost to Lake 5-1 in Division III Sectional Semifinals); Head Coach: Brian Nagy-27th Season
Key Losses: David Moore (P/1B), Josh Dowling (IF/P)
Key Returners: Bryce Hudik-Sr. (P/OF), Sam Lubinski-Sr. (1B/OF), Bryce Eisel-Sr. (P/OF), Zach Lumbrezer-Sr. (2B), Adam Baumgartner-Sr. (2B/OF), David Carroll-Sr. (OF), Collin Loeffler-Sr. (OF/2B), Thomas Pollard-Sr. (P/OF), Mason Henricks-Jr. (SS/P), Jack Krispin-Jr. (C)
Promising Newcomers: Garrett Betz-Jr., Jadine Young-So., Payton Boucher-Fr., Evan Lumbrezer-Fr., Brock Hudik-Fr., RJ Schunck-Fr., Landon Vance-Fr.
For longtime Evergreen coach Brian Nagy and his Evergreen Vikings, they will lean on the pitching experience of Bryce Hudik and Bryce Eisel to lead the way. Developing pitching depth though will be a top priority this spring for Nagy. “We will have to develop pitching from within our ranks in order to be competitive on a consistent basis with a compacted schedule and the pitch count rules”.
Offensively we continue to look for more consistency and better production with runners in scoring position. Our extra base hit numbers were down significantly last year, and we hope to improve on that this season”, he added.
When it comes to the league, Nagy expects Archbold, Bryan, and Wauseon to be in the top three. “I think we have a chance to be a real surprise this year if we mature early and learn how to win close games”, he concluded.
8. Patrick Henry (6-13, 0-7 in NWOAL; Lost to Kalida 1-0 in Division IV District Semifinals); Head Coach: Ray Greene-1st Season
Key Losses: Jarrett Maas (.254 Avg, 12 R), Jordan Moore (.270 Avg, 18 RBIs)
Key Returners: Axel Shanks (18.2 IP), Christian Petersen (41 IP, 1.87 ERA; .365 Avg, 23 hits, 13 RBIs), Kolton Holloway (.393 Avg, 24 hits, 19 R)
After a regular season that saw the Patriots go 0-7 in league play last year, Patrick Henry made a nice tournament run by advancing to the District Semifinals where they fell 1-0 to the Kalida Wildcats. First-year coach Ray Greene said the overall team depth is a concern, but a strong junior and senior class will help carry the load. Patrick Henry returns Christian Petersen and Caleb Rosengarten (33.1 IP, 2.31 ERA) to their pitching staff and offensively they will try to improve on their .265 team batting average last season.