The unparalleled Casey Stengel once said, “You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.”
Straight to the point, immensely true and simple enough for even the lightest of baseball and softball fans to wrap their head around.
This week’s “10 to Comprehend” focuses on the area’s athletes who are indeed saving passed balls and playing at a high level behind home plate.
•Catching a fastball from Paint Valley’s Mikayla Newland absolutely cannot be an easy task but Haley Nash does it night in and night out. The senior catcher has been a mainstay behind home plate this year, calling games for the youthful Newland and serving as the Bearcats’ leadoff hitter. Nash leads the team in runs scored (5) and owns a steady .313 batting average. While Newland gains headlines, the Bearcats will ultimately rely on Nash to continue to display leadership, patience and toughness at her catcher position.
•Westfall’s baseball team owns a 4-3 record right now and much of that is due to the play of catcher Corbin Ferrell. The sophomore has started the 2015 season on a scorching hitting streak that has his average at .364. While Ferrell usually hits at the bottom of the Mustangs’ lineup, he’s no slouch. And behind the plate, he’s been as solid as they come. The perfect mix of defensive prowess and offensive skill, Ferrell will be a household name in Williamsport by the end of the season.
•No hitter in the area — baseball or softball — is off to a better start than Chillicothe’s Haylee Jo Large. The back end of the Cavaliers’ battery leads her team and the area in hits (13) and is without question the vaunted leader. Over a stretch of two games this past week, Large was a perfect 9-9 for at the plate. She cooled down in an 11-0 win over East Clinton, Friday night, going 2-5 at the plate — an off night for her. She leads Chillicothe in six offensive categories including hits, average (.650, 13-20), RBI (7) and doubles (5).
•Back to Bainbridge where junior Teagan McFadden continues to excel at whatever he decides to do. Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can say his ABC’s backwards, juggle three baseballs and spin around in circles at the same time; flawlessly. McFadden, who’s newest starring role is catcher of his high school baseball team, has his Bearcats off to an undamaged 6-0 start. In that time frame, he’s batting .727 (8-11) with four doubles and 6 RBI.
•Unioto’s softball club is 3-1 now with its most recent win coming over Huntington, 6-0. While Brooke Blevins continues to add K’s to her stat sheet, McKenna Jones — her catcher — keeps hitting the ball. Jones, a junior, leads the Shermans in RBI (4) and is 4-12 (.333) this year at the plate. When she’s not doing damage with a bat, she’s catching on quickly to Blevins’ pitching style. Look for the Blevins-Jones combo to carry Unioto deep into the 2015 postseason.
•I’m not sure what I was thinking when I didn’t include Piketon’s Ethan Fremder in the first two SVC Player of the Year watches. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking logically. After a slow start, Fremder has caught fire over the past week, going 7-10 and raising his batting average to a cool .526. So what I’m telling you is that on the football field, Fremder can lead the SVC in rushing and on the baseball field, he can seriously contend for and SVC batting title. The kid has skills.
• Senior Spotlight: Kudos to Southeastern’s Cody Hendershot, who threw a gem of a game this past Tuesday in a 9-2 win over Vinton County. But it wasn’t his pitching that caught my eye; it was his attitude on the bump. Hendershot or “Hendo” as the Panthers call him, came out looking sluggish and was dealing with horrendous weather conditions for a pitcher. But he kept his head up, kept trudging along and ended up being the hero. Not once did he hang his hat early or get frustrated with his lack of control. That decision ended up paying huge dividends in the long run and he earned his first victory of 2015.
• Performance of the Week: Maybe I’m biased towards pitching performances but I’ve got to go with Zane Trace’s Morgan Geno here. On Monday night of this past week, Geno battled Paint Valley and Mikayla Newland. Through five innings, Geno didn’t allow a hit and struckout 12 Bearcats compared to just one walk. As a team, Zane Trace scored just three runs in the win. Geno’s presence at the plate against Newland led to two of those as she helped herself improve to 3-0.
• SVC Baseball Player of the Year Watch: We have a new leader and it’s Adena’s Jonathan Thomas. Following him are Paint Valley’s Mason McCloy and as promised, Piketon’s Ethan Fremder.
• SVC Softball Player of the Year Watch: Morgan Geno overtakes Paint Valley’s Mikayla Newland for the top position, while Brooke Blevins follows those two and makes her first appearance on the watch list this spring.
NOTE: Look for the area’s statistical leaders in Tuesday’s edition of the Chillicothe Gazette or at chillicothegazette.com, Monday night.
Derrick Webb is a Gazette sportswriter and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dw1509.
• Baseball: Adena (5-0), Paint Valley (6-0), Southeastern (2-2), Piketon (2-4), Zane Trace (3-4), Chillicothe (1-2), Unioto (2-2), Waverly (4-5), Westfall (4-3) and Huntington (2-3)
• Softball: Zane Trace (3-0), Westfall (3-1), Unioto (3-1), Waverly (3-0), Huntington (1-2), Paint Valley (2-3), Piketon (2-0), Chillicothe (2-4), Adena (1-1) and Southeastern (1-3)