AMELIA – Missing more than a week of games will put any baseball coach in a foul mood.
Following up with a doubleheader loss makes it particularly aggravating as Amelia coach Steve Nicodemus found out April 11. The Barons got a dry break in the weather to host a team from Yale, Michigan, but fell short 12-5 and 5-4.
“Things had been going pretty easy for us up to this point,” Nicodemus said. “We got two big wins at Norwood and New Richmond to open league play, then we don’t play for nine days.”
Amelia has plenty of time to respond and they’re out to better last year’s 8-16 record. A key factor in the loss to the Michigan team was thumper T.J. Reed was out due to family obligations. The senior slugger typically is a big run producer.
“We learned that last year when he was out most of the season with a wrist injury,” Nicodemus said. “He makes us a whole different team.”
Though he had baseball opportunities, Reed will pursue football at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Other veterans determined to help Amelia over the hump are senior Mike Diana and junior Jacob Helton. Both were Southern Buckeye Conference-American Division first team last season. Helton again has been very consistent at the plate for the Barons.
“He’s just a pure hitter, he’s had a couple hits every game,” Nicodemus said. “He hit over .400 last year as a sophomore.”
Along with Steve’s nephew, Ty Nicodemus at catcher, another mainstay for Amelia has been junior shortstop Darek Vaske. Thus far he has displayed some pop with his bat and has been crucial to the defense up the middle.
“He’s got a very strong arm,” Nicodemus said. “He’s probably our best pitcher. We probably don’t use him as much as we should because he’s so valuable at shortstop.”
In the league, Amelia hopes to stand pat as they have a rematch with New Richmond April 22. They also have the Western Brown Invitational April 25 and will play Batavia April 27 at UC Clermont’s Brian Wilson Field.
“I like our chances,” Nicodemus said. “It’s going to be a tough race. I don’t doubt at all that we have a chance to stay in it.”
The standout of Amelia’s marquees games this spring takes place May 6 when the Barons play in a Coaches vs. Cancer contest against Clark Montessori May 6 at Brandon Phillips Field. As they will several times this season, Amelia will honor former coach Jeff Hurt who passed after a courageous battle late last fall.
“That’s something that means a lot to us,” Nicodemus said. “That’s a little personal to us. We got special black jerseys this year with ‘Coach Jeff’ on the sleeve that we’re going to wear in select games. We’re also going to honor Jeff in our Reds Futures Showcase game with Glen Este (at Midland April 23).”