BETHEL – Two of Bethel-Tate’s top baseball players spent the summer sharpening their skills with the 17U Backstop Bats, sponsored by the Eastgate batting cage, Backstop Sports.
Seniors-to-be Tanner Colwell and Austin Bohl were first- and second-team Southern Buckeye Conference-National Division, respectively. Colwell topped the Tigers in hitting at .442. Bohl displayed some home run pop and joined Colwell as one of Bethel-Tate’s pitchers.
The Tigers had just eight wins, but played better from late April until bowing out in the tournament May 13. This coming spring will be Colwell’s fourth year on varsity at shortstop, center field and pitcher. Though he possesses a live arm, he enjoys catching opponents off guard with his off-speed pitches.
Colwell himself was caught off guard when his summer was delayed due to a PCL tear in his knee. The injury occurred in Bethel-Tate’s opening tournament win against East Clinton.
“It was the second or third pitch of the game,” Colwell said. “I got a base hit and stole second. When I slid, I slid head first and my PCL in my knee tore.”
For the next two months, Colwell had to rehab and watch his summer teammates, after working all winter to play in the batting cage at Backstop and at school in the wrestling room. Despite being unavailable until mid-July, he was often at the games in uniform supporting the team.
The summer Bats consisted of Colwell, Bohl and players from Glen Este, Anderson, Turpin, McNicholas, Summit Country Day, Mariemont and Landmark Christian.
“It was fun to get to know more people and see how each person plays,” Colwell said.
Added Bohl, “It was fun and we did pretty well.”
The squad was coached by John Nordmeyer who was happy to add the two bangers from Bethel to a core group that had been playing together.
“Both players were good young men and very coachable,” Nordmeyer said. “The guys noticed Austin (Bohl) wore cowboys boots with his uniform instead of slides and he kind of became a favorite. They asked him where they could get some boots like that and he said, ‘Anywhere in Bethel!’”
When in cleats, Bohl played third base, first base, pitched and saw some outfield time. Colwell played a little outfield and mainly pitched to avoid further injury.
Colwell now turns from pitching and hitting to kicking where he hopes to utilize his left foot for coach Dave Schellenberger’s soccer Tigers. His injury was on his kicking leg, but he reports no early problems.
Bohl also plans to play soccer and some basketball, before getting back in the cage to swat some baseballs in the hopes of improving the Tigers in 2016.
“We had some younger players up to help us out last season,” Bohl said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to take on a bigger role next year.”
Colwell is also looking for the Bethel-Tate youth to step up, just as he did as an underclassman.
“We had a pretty good team growing up, but half of them branched off,” Colwell said. “The other half didn’t play much this year.”
In the meantime, both sluggers await the soccer opener slated for Aug. 22 at North Adams.