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HomeBlanchard River BuzzPrep Baseball Preview: Kalida returns 10 players from regional finalist team

Prep Baseball Preview: Kalida returns 10 players from regional finalist team

Arlington players dump ice water on coach Tom Yates following their win over Liberty-Benton last season. The Red Devils have a veteran group of players ready to defend last year's Blanchard Valley Conference baseball championship. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

Arlington players dump ice water on coach Tom Yates following their win over Liberty-Benton last season. The Red Devils have a veteran group of players ready to defend last year’s Blanchard Valley Conference baseball championship. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

Usually, at least a couple of area baseball teams make deep tournament runs.
Last year, it was Kalida and Mohawk’s turn.
Kalida was just a win away from a spot in the Division IV state tournament. The Wildcats stopped New London 4-3 in the Division IV regional semifinals before being bounced from the tournament in the regional final with an 11-1 loss to Fort Recovery.
Kalida did lose five players to graduation from last year’s team that went 23-2 and won the Putnam County League. Two of those players, Austin Swift (Indiana Wesleyan) and Brady Laudick (Toledo), are playing college baseball this spring.
Ten letterwinners do return for coach Joe Recker’s crew. Senior outfielder/pitcher Trent Siebeneck earned first team all-PCL honors. Classmates Jeffrey Knueve and Noah Lambert were second team all-leaguers.
At Mohawk, coach Eric Hoover has seven players back from last year’s team that finished 19-10 and bowed out of the Division IV regional semifinals.
The Warriors have seven players back including Northern 10 Conference Player of the Year Austin Harper. Harper hit .474 and had a 3.58 ERA. Senior David Dietrich and sophomore Cole Widmer hit .296 and .295 respectively. Senior Wyatt Cook was 4-1 with a 1.87 ERA while junior Rico Lopez was 3-1 with a 0.79 ERA.
Arlington and New Riegel, meanwhile, will be looking to defend league championships.
With seven returning letterwinners from last year’s squad that went 22-3 overall and 10-1 in the Blanchard Valley Conference, Arlington will be tough to topple yet again.
Coach Tom Yates, who has a 199-54 record in 12 seasons as head coach, has four senior players back who hit .424 or better. Pitcher/outfielder Nic Affholder (.543) leads the way with Logan Speyer (.429), Nathan Insley (.425) and Matt Crawford (.424) also back. Insley, Speyer and Affholder were all first-team BVC selections a year ago.
Even without its two future NCAA Division I players for all of last season, New Riegel was still able to fashion a 13-7 overall record that included a perfect 10-0 mark in the Sandusky River League. With the return of seven letterwinners in addition to Louisville-bound Michael Kirian and Ohio State signee Alex Theis it looks like the Blue Jackets will be the cream of the crop in the Sandusky Bay Conference’s River Division.
Cole Noftz returns after a terrific freshman season in which he hit .325 and was 2-0 with a 2.68 ERA. Junior Alec Zoeller was a first-team all-SRL selection as he hit .280 and was 4-2 on the mound with a 2.06 ERA.
There are eight new head baseball coaches around the area this year. Mason Roth takes over at Bluffton, Justin Gunka moves from Hopewell-Loudon to Fostoria and Tony Swanagan is in charge at Hopewell-Loudon.
Other new area coaches include Dennis Potts (Continental), Matt Dube (Fort Jennings), Matt Rader (Liberty-Benton) and Greg Liedtke (Pandora-Gilboa).
No information was available on teams from Cory-Rawson, North Baltimore and Lakota.

Ada
HEAD COACH: Jason Campbell (6th year, 21-90).
2016 RECORD: 4-21 overall, 1-7 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seth Evans, sr., P/SS; Aaron Everhart, jr., 2B/OF/P; Colten Shafer, jr., OF/P/C; Zach Wilson, jr., C/P/3B; Austin Amburgey, soph., C/3B/P; Jaylin Burkhart, soph., 1B; Connor Frazier, soph., P/2B/OF; Matt Middlebrook, soph., OF/P; Kolton Spangler, soph., OF/3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jordan Bailey, sr., OF; Owen Conley, sr., 1B; Conrad Jackson, jr., OF; Hunter England, jr., P/3B.
NOTABLE: There are just three seniors on the roster. Ada is building with an eye on the future with five players that lettered as freshmen last season. Senior Seth Evans and junior Aaron Everhart were both honorable mention all-league selections last year.

Arcadia
HEAD COACH: Dereck Uitto (9th year).
2016 RECORD: 9-14 overall, 4-7 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alex Pessell, sr., P/C/SS; Cole Cramer, sr., UT; Derron Seaburn, soph., IF; Eli Palmer, soph., C/P; Luke Metzger, soph., P/OF; Matt Hill, jr., C/OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ethan Boes, sr., 1B/OF; Austin Jones, sr., OF; Tristan Martinez, fr., P/C/IF; Dom Guillen, fr., P/1B; Casey Cramer, fr., P/IF; Hayden Rader, fr., P/OF.
NOTABLE: Pessell is the team’s top returnee after hitting .306 with nine RBIs. Uitto is expecting contributions from four freshmen pitchers this season as well.

Arlington
HEAD COACH: Tom Yates (12th year, 199-54).
2016 RECORD: 22-3 overall, 10-1 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Matt Crawford, sr., OF; Nathan Insley, sr., P/SS; Logan Speyer, sr., 1B; Nic Affholder, sr., P/OF; Nathan Russell, sr., C; Tommy Jones, sr., OF/2B; Trevor Lotz, sr., OF/P; Matt Johnson, jr., P/2B; Ben Slough, jr., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Evan O’Rear, soph., 3B/P; Isaih Dawson, jr., C/P; Chayse Brenneman, sr., 3B; Andrew Cheney, sr., 2B; Matthew Freed, sr., C/OF; Caden Isenbarger, sr., 3B; Brayden Bushong, soph., C; Will Bushong, soph., 1B; Dylan Grohnke, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: Arlington returns three first-team all-BVC players led by outfielder Nic Affholder who hit a scorching .543 a year ago. Three others return after hitting above .400 last season as the Red Devils appear primed to build on last season’s 22-3 finish.

Bluffton
HEAD COACH: Mason Roth (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 7-9 overall, 2-6 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Braeden Edwards, jr., 2B/SS/P; Cole Fruchy, jr., 2B/3B/OF/P; Matt Bowden, sr., SS/P; Dakota Bricker, jr., OF/P; Brice Rayle, jr., SS/3B/P; Jason Bracy, sr., IF/OF/P/C; Colin Phillips, sr., 1B/OF; Kaden Renecker, jr., P/OF; Tyler McLaughlin, sr., 1B/C.
TOP PROSPECTS: Aaron Belcher, jr., 2B/3B/P/C; Zane Myers, sr., OF.
NOTABLE: In his first year at the helm of Bluffton’s program, Mason Roth has four returning seniors and five juniors to work with including first-team all-NWC pick Dakota Bricker and second-team pick Matt Bowden.

Carey
HEAD COACH: Joey Roark (9th year, 69-120).
2016 RECORD: 11-14 overall, 5-11 Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jon Racheter, sr., P/1B; Trey Bame jr., P/SS; Brayden Wentling jr., CF/P; Easton Roark jr., P/2B; Marcus Miller jr., 3B/P; Caden Owens, jr., C; Grant Frederick jr., UT; Jordan Dasher soph., OF; Dylan Grothaus soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Reese Mullholand, fr., UT/P; Tanner Stoll, fr., 3B/P; McKain Miller, fr., UT.
NOTABLE: Nine letterwinners return with Jon Racheter the lone senior of the bunch. Racheter earned a first-team all-N10 selection and was second team all-district with Trey Bame. Racheter and Bame hit .370 and .367, respectively, both tallying 25 RBIs.

Columbus Grove
HEAD COACH: Anthony Castronova (4th year, 224-221 overall).
2016 RECORD: 5-16 overall, 2-5 Putnam County league, 1-7 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Grant Schroeder, sr., P/IF; Adam Birkemeier, sr., C; Ethan Blankemeyer, sr., P/OF; Jacob Otto, sr., P/OF; Ben Ramirez, sr., P/IF; Reid Stechschulte, sr., P/IF; Kyle Welty, sr., OF; Owen Fuerst, jr., OF; Nick Woods, soph., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Emilio Delarosa, sr., IF; Brandon Grisby, sr., IF/OF; Wyatt Seibert, jr., P/IF; Brady Hauenstein, soph., P/C.
NOTABLE: Seven of Columbus Grove’s nine returning letterwinners are seniors, including second-team all-PCL and all-NWC selection Grant Schroeder. The Bulldogs play a whopping 15 conference games split between the PCL and NWC. Because of it, Castronova wants to develop 8-10 pitchers to compete in both leagues while learning how to finish games without physical or mental breakdowns.

Continental
HEAD COACH: Dennis Potts (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 0-22 overall, 0-7 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alex Murphy, sr., P/3B; Jacob Williams, sr., OF; Trevor Williamson, sr., 2B/SS/CF; Dillon Coleman, jr., P/C/2B; Chris Potts, jr., P/1B; Payton Weller, jr., P/3B; Cole Bowers, soph., P/OF; Jarret Keck, soph., P/2B; Konnor Okuley, soph., OF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Nick States, soph., P/1B; Brady Dockery, fr., P/SS/2B.
NOTABLE: Continental has nowhere to go but up this season after last year’s 0-22 finish. With only three letterwinning seniors returning and freshman Brady Dockery slated to start at shortstop, the Pirates have a young core with plenty of room for growth as they enter 2017.

Elmwood
HEAD COACH: Kyle Reiser (33rd year, 549-240).
2016 RECORD: 20-8 overall, 10-4 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tayte Lentz, sr., P/SS; Tyler St. Clair, sr., P/SS; Tyler Stone, sr., 3B; Andy Curtis, sr., CF; Jonathan DuVall, soph., 2B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Josh Firsdon, sr., C; Braden Dauterman, jr., P/1B; Ricky Buckingham, jr., OF.
NOTABLE: Kyle Reiser returns five letetrmen from last year’s 20-8 squad led by senior quad of Tayte Lentz, Tyler St. Clair, Tyler Stone and Andy Curtis. Stone is back after a second-team all-NBC season in the outfield, while Lentz returns after being second-team as a utility player.

Findlay
HEAD COACH: Jeff Stutzman (11th year, 154-125).
2016 RECORD: 11-15 overall, 5-9 Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cameron Dillon, jr., P/OF/IF; Anthony Gonzalez, jr., 1B; Tyler Lydick, soph., P; Avery Wirt, sr., P; Todd Federici, sr., OF; Eric Johnson, sr., SS/3B.
TOP PROSPECTS: Nate Miller, jr., SS; Nick Kidwell, soph., C; Jeremiah Snyder, soph., OF; Phillip Bibler, soph., OF; Drew Parish, soph., OF; Patrick Dillon, fr., IF; Ethan Canterbury, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: Findlay is without the majority of its pitching from a year ago, but its concern lies at the plate. If the Trojans can get consistent offense, even with inexperience on the mound, they expect to make some noise in the TRAC.

Fort Jennings
HEAD COACH: Matt Dube (1st year, 34-54).
2016 RECORD: 6-16 overall, 2-5 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Sam Vetter, sr.; Austin Luebrecht, sr.; Connor Stechschulte, sr.; Brandon Wehri, jr.; Aaron Sealts, jr.; Derek Luersman, soph.; Aaron Kloeppel, soph.; Nolan Grote, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Logan Hardeman, sr.; Kyle Norbeck, fr.
NOTABLE: With Matt Dube in his first year atop the Fort Jennings program, he will rely on the five returning seniors for leadership and stability in building off of last season’s 6-16 record. The Musketeers feature three returning senior letterwinners and junior Brandon Wehri brings a .371 batting average with him to lead the team.

Fostoria
HEAD COACH: Justin Gunka (1st year)
2016 RECORD: 8-14 overall, 6-8 Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alex Sierra, soph., UT/P; Gabriel Turner, jr., OF/P; Elijah Hickle, sr., SS/P; Karsen Bemis, soph., C/P; Trey Yates, sr., 3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Caden Lance, fr., 2B/C; Dylan Sheets, soph., IF/P; Trent Dukes, sr., 1B/DH; Colin Drake, jr., OF/P; Jace Boff, jr., OF; Jesus Garcia, soph., 1B/DH; Donovan Vogel, sr., OF; Dalton Cook, sr., UT.
NOTABLE: With just two returning letterwinning seniors, and five lettermen altogether, first-year head coach Justin Gunka will be forced to juggle inexperience as the Redmen work to improve upon last season’s 8-14 record.

Hardin Northern
HEAD COACH: Dennis Pees (3rd year).
2016 RECORD: 5-16 overall, 1-8 Northwest Central Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Logan Pauley, sr.; Braden Hayley, sr.; Logan Taylor, sr.; Shawn Weihrauch, sr.; Austyn Russler, jr.; Bryce Hipsher, jr.; Bradley Flowers, jr.; Dane Robinson, jr.; Brady Cramer, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ty Kalb, sr.; Ty Schwiewe, sr.; Trent Prichard, sr.; Tait Prichard, jr.; Michael Kindle, jr.; Dylan Hale, soph.; Daylin Pees, fr.; Seth Parsons, fr.
NOTABLE: The Polar Bears have good experience returning with nine returning letterwinners. Hardin Northern expects to be much more competitive this season in Pees’ third season in charge of the program.

Hopewell-Loudon
HEAD COACH: Tony Swanagan (1st year, 153-86).
2016 RECORD: 9-14 overall, 6-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kyle Reinbolt, sr., P/C; Alex Bour, sr., SS; Andrew Scaife, sr., INF; Zach Kreais, jr., P/OF; Derek Foos, jr., INF; Jaret Nelson, soph., OF; Gage Burns, soph., INF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Cody Balliet, soph., CF; Travis Milligan, fr., INF; Bailey Breidenbach, soph., OF.
NOTABLE: Hopewell-Loudon returns a one-two punch of Kyle Reinbolt and Zach Kreais on the mound. However, the duo are the only two players returning who hit above .300 a year ago, so offense is pivotal if first-year coach Tony Swanagan wants the Chieftains to improve on last season’s 9-14 finish.

Kalida
HEAD COACH: Joe Recker (5th year, 52-23).
2016 RECORD: 23-2 overall, 7-0 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Trent Siebeneck, sr., OF/P; Jeffrey Knueve, sr., C/1B/OF/DH; Noah Lambert, sr., P/SS; Derek Buss, sr., 1B/DH; Kevin Hamburg, jr., IF/P/OF; Braden Decker, jr., OF/C/IF; Josh Klausing, jr., IF/P/OF; Owen Recker, soph., P/IF; Trevor Lambert, soph., C/IF/OF; Grant Laudick, soph., OF/P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: .
NOTABLE: Kalida returns 10 lettermen from last season’s perfect PCL season and regional runner-up. While last year’s ace Austin Swift is gone, first-team PCL pick Trent Siebeneck is back as are second-team picks Jeffrey Knueve and Noah Lambert. Experience will play a key role for the Wildcats as they look to defend their PCL crown.

Leipsic
HEAD COACH: Darren Henry (4th year).
2016 RECORD: 20-5 overall, 9-2 Blanchard Valley Conference, 6-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Grant Rader, sr., SS/P; Nick Schey, sr., OF/P; Jordan Berger, sr., 1B/P; Devin Hiegel, sr., 3B; Robbie Laubenthal, sr., C; Chris Basinger, jr., IF/OF/P; Dylan Schroeder, soph., IF/OF/P/C; Cole Rieman, soph., IF/OF/P; Tyler Hiegel, soph., IF/OF/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Reese Mangas, soph., 1B; Wes Garcia, fr., IF/OF/P; Parker Smith, fr., IF/P; Drew Liffick, fr., IF/OF/P; Mitchell Lammers, fr., IF.OF/C; Grant Steingas, fr., OF/IF.
NOTABLE: Leipsic returns five senior letterwinners, most of which comprise its infield and its pitching staff as the Vikings look to improve upon last season’s 20-5 finish. Grant Rader, the shortstop and ace, is the player Leipsic will lean on after hitting .299 at the plate and posting a 1.48 ERA on the mound a year ago.

Liberty-Benton
HEAD COACH: Matt Rader (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 10-14 overall, 7-4 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tyler George, sr., SS/P; Wyatt Young, sr., C/P; Jacob Nichols, sr., IF; Adam Wenzinger, sr.,OF/P; A.J. Dobbins, jr., 1B/P; Griffin Hohman, jr., IF; Jon Sadler, soph., OF/IF/C; Griffin Snider, soph., 3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Marshall Rose, fr.; Justin Davisson, soph.; Logan Sterling, soph.; Bobby Musselman, jr.; Anthony Wolford, soph.
NOTABLE: Young, a second-team all-BVC pick as a junior, batted .288 while Sadler hit .269 for the Eagles last season. Look for Tyler George to be the Eagles’ No. 1 option on the mound after posting a 1.47 ERA a year ago.

McComb
HEAD COACH: Rob Quiroga (6th year, 83-47).
2016 RECORD: 13-5 overall, 9-2 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Malachi Abbott, sr.; Caden Schroeder, sr.; David Stoepfel, sr.; Tyler Bommarito, sr.: Cam Morris, jr.; Justin Wasson, jr.; Graham LaRue, jr.; Tanner Schroeder, soph.; Tristan Sherick, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Skye Gustwiller, sr.; Andrew Smith, soph.; Matt Smith, sr.; Kyle Wasson, fr.; Koby Gustwiller, fr.; Ryan Wenzinger, sr.; Clay Santos, jr.; Charlie Vance, jr.
NOTABLE: A solid group of returning players for the Panthers is led by first-team all-BVC selection Malachi Abbott. Tanner and Caden Schroeder also earned all-league honors for McComb last season.

Miller City
HEAD COACH: Dusty Pester (8th year, 134-55).
2016 RECORD: 15-6 overall, 5-2 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Corbin Niese, sr.; Jacob Schimmoeller, sr.; Jacob Kuhlman, sr.; Justin Schnipke, sr.; Kelvin Stechschulte, sr.; Mark Kuhlman, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Bryce Riepenhoff, sr.; Lane Hiltner, sr.; Logan Niese, sr.; Joey Otto, sr.; Cole Niese, soph.
NOTABLE: Dusty Pester welcomes an array of returning players back from last season’s 15-6 Miller City squad. Leading the offense will be senior first-team all-PCL pick Corbin Niese and his .390 average, while Jacob Kuhlman returns as a second-team all-PCL pick and Jacob Schimmoeller returns a 2.04 ERA.

Mohawk
HEAD COACH: Eric Hoover (11th year, 150-101).
2016 RECORD: 19-10 overall.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Austin Harper, sr., P/SS; David Dietrich, sr., CF; Wyatt Cook, sr., P/IF; Cadin Emshoff, sr., OF; Parker Brown, jr., C/P; Rico Lopez, jr., P/OF; Cole Widmer, soph., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Wyatt Leeth, sr., DH; Chet Margraf, sr., OF; Andrew Parker, sr., OF; Drew Hawley, sr., OF; Carson Weinandy, sr., P/IF; Marshall Stull, jr., OF; Tanner Osborn, soph., P/C/IF/OF; Kedryk Leeth, soph., P/1B; Alex Lachner, soph., IF; Bryce Kirian, soph., OF.
NOTABLE: Mohawk and Eric Hoover return seven lettermen from last season’s 19-10 finish. Leading the charge is senior shortstop and pitcher Austin Harper, last season’s Disitrict 9 Player of the Year, the N10 Player of the Year and first-team all-Ohio selection, as he brings back a gaudy .474 batting average and a 3.58 ERA. Senior Wyatt Cook returns a 1.87 ERA and junior Rico Lopez brings a 0.79 ERA adding to a strong Warriors rotation.

New Riegel
HEAD COACH: Gregg Hughes (4th year, 46-27).
2016 RECORD: 13-7 overall, 10-0 Sandusky River League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Michael Kirian, sr., P/1B; Alex Theis, sr., 1B; Brian Hughes, sr., IF/OF; Brandon Arbogast, sr., 3B/C; Shane Halcomb, sr., IF/P; Ben Dryfuse, jr., IF/P; Alec Zoeller, jr., OF/P; Dylan Smith, jr., C/OF; Cole Noftz, soph., IF/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Aaron Hohman, jr., P/IF; C/OF; Andy Seifert, soph., IF; Jacob Theis, fr., C/P/IF; Nick Reinhart, fr., OF/IF.
NOTABLE: New Riegel returns first-team all-SRL pitcher Alec Zoeller and his 2.06 ERA, but the good news is Division I college commits Michael Kirian and Alex Theis return after each missed last season due to injury. Despite sweeping the conference 10-0 a year ago, the Blue Jakcets finished 13-7 and figure to improve upon that with a healthy unit in 2017.

Ottawa-Glandorf
HEAD COACH: Nick Miller (12th year, 149-89).
2016 RECORD: 6-15 overall, 3-6 Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Logan Balbaugh, sr., UT; Grant Fuerst, jr., OF/P; Chase Schrieber, jr., IF/P; Austin Horstman, jr., C/P; Nathan Arrington, jr., 1B/P; Owen Hiegel, soph., IF/P; BJ Fortman, soph., UT.
TOP PROSPECTS: Michael Bowers, jr., IF; Evan Balash, jr., OF; Ethan White, soph., UT.
NOTABLE: Chase Schrieber, a honorable mention all-league player a year ago, headlines a group of seven returning lettermen from Ottawa-Glandorf’s 6-15 finish last season. Without a host of depth, Nick Miller, who has a 149-89 record in 11 years as the Titans’ head coach, will be relied on to get the most out of O-G this year.

Ottoville
HEAD COACH: Ty Wannemacher (3rd year, 24-34).
2016 RECORD: 8-12 overall, 4-3 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brad Boecker, sr., IF/P/C; Nick Moorman, jr., IF/P; Zane Martin, jr., IF/P; Troy Warnecke, jr., OF/P; Clayton Schnipke, jr., IF/P; IF/OF; Andy Schimmoeller, jr., OF/IF/P/C; Dylan Kemper, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Keagan Leis, jr., INF/OF; Logan Kemper, jr., INF/OF; Jaden Schnipke, soph., OF/INF; Emerson Calvelage, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: Ottoville is without two starters from last year, but the Big Green return its top-two pitchers from a year ago in Zane Martin (2.10 ERA) and Nick Moorman (2.0 ERA). If Ottoville can find enough depth on the mound, it expects to be competitive in the PCL after last season’s 4-3 conference record.

Pandora-Gilboa
HEAD COACH: Greg Liedtke (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 5-18 overall, 2-9 Blanchard Valley Conference; 2-5 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Gunner Stall, sr., SS/P; Layton McCullough, sr., 2B; Drew Johnson, jr., P/1B; Jason Walther, sr., OF/1B; Carter Nofziger, jr., OF; Austin Decker, jr., OF/P; Chase Huffman, jr., 3B/P; Ryan Shartell, jr., IF/P; Josh Shartell, jr., C/3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ryan Lee, jr, IF/P.; Adam Schwab, jr., C/P; A.J. Marinelli, sr., OF; Isaac Stall, fr., C/3B; Alex Ricker, fr., P/OF.
NOTABLE: Drew Johnson and Carter Nofziger give the Rockets a couple of big bats in their lineup. Johnson hit .375 last season while Nofziger batted .362.

Patrick Henry
HEAD COACH: Shawn Sunderman (9th year, 132-78).
2016 RECORD: 11-12 overall, 3-5 Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Mason Fintel, sr., IF; Kal Harris, sr., IF/C; JJ Rettig, sr., OF/P; Kent Petersen, sr., IF/P; Jarrett Maas, jr., OF; Jordan Moore, jr., OF; Christian Petersen, soph., IF/P/C; Axel Shanks, soph., IF/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brayden Petersen, soph., OF; Kolton Holloway, fr., IF.
NOTABLE: Despite losing two-time all-Ohio honorable mention Joe Nickels to graduation, Patrick Henry returns a deep crop of pitching and sound defense as it looks to improve on last season’s 11-12 record. Mason Fintel haedlines eight returning lettermen bringing back his .354 batting average and and a second-team all-NWOAL selection.

Riverdale
HEAD COACH: Brett Bostelman (4th year, 26-45).
2016 RECORD: 11-14 overall, 5-6 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Evan McKee, sr., 1B; Trey Miller, sr., P/SS; Austin VandenBosch, sr., IF/P; Wayne Frey, jr., P/C/OF; Cody Mason, jr., OF; Jonathan Walter, jr., P/IF; Miles Frey, soph., P/C/OF; Alec Loveridge, soph., P/OF; Seth McElree, soph., P/IF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Aidan Loveridge, jr., IF/OF; Brock Davis, fr., P/IF/OF; Andrew Borkosky, soph., IF; Caleb McCoy, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: Four-time letterwinners and senior-duo of Evan McKee and Trey Miller return for Riverdale after last season’s 11-14 end. McKee, a first-team BVC pick, brings back a .407 average to lead the offense, while Miller (second-team BVC) brings back a 2.00 ERA and 55 strikeouts to lead the Falcons on the hill.

St. Wendelin
HEAD COACH: Bret Mathias (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 4-15 overall, 1-9 Sandusky River League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ryan Nicholson, sr., OF/P/3B; Brayden Thomas, soph., IF/OF/P; Luke Volkmer, sr., OF/1B; Samuel Siebert, soph., OF; David Stosio, jr., 3B/OF; Nick Homan, soph., IF/OF/P; Justin Myers, sr., 1B/P/OF; Devin Frankart, sr., C/P/OF; Cyle Smith, sr., P/IF; Cam’Ren Williams, soph., OF/2B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Royce Johnson, fr., OF/2B/P; Jon Armitage, fr., OF.
NOTABLE: With a first-year head coach in Bret Mathias, St. Wendelin will be relying on second-team all-district pitcher and infielder Cyle Smith, who Mathias expects to be the ace of the staff and lead the Mohawks in RBIs and batting average. Ten of the returning 12 players are letterwinners, including five seniors, as Mathias has a veteran group to rely on as the Mohawks look to improve on last season’s 4-15 mark.

Upper Sandusky
HEAD COACH: Scott Emerick (3rd year).
2016 RECORD: 14-13 overall, 10-6 Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jason Holly, soph., P/1B; Arik Schneider, jr., P/1B; Jevon Dible, jr., P/C; Jack Smith, jr., OF; Sam Musgrave, sr., OF; Collin Fredritz, sr., 3B/P.
TOP PROSPECTS: Santana King, sr., SS/2B; Keaton Cunningham, fr., SS/2B; Cole Sowers, fr., SS/2B; Brett Bianchi, jr., SS/2B; Conner Byrne, soph., P; Brenyn Marquart, soph., P; Ben Sheaffer, soph., C; Parker Frombaugh, soph., OF.
NOTABLE: Seventeen of the 24 players in Upper Sandusky’s program are freshmen and sophomores, but Scott Emerick’s Rams return six lettermen headlined by last year’s all-district honorable mention Jevon Dible and his .314 bating average. For Upper to build on last season’s14-13 record, they must get significant contributions from the host of newcomers in the middle infield and on the mound.

Van Buren
HEAD COACH: Brooks Lance (5th year, 230-154).
2016 RECORD: 12-12 overall, 6-5 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brandon Bell, sr., INF/P; Jaden Tabler, jr., P/OF; Josh Seitz, jr., INF/P; Angel Garcia, jr., 1B/P; Codi Leonard, jr., C/3B.
NOTABLE: Van Buren will go as far as captains Brandon Bell and Jaden Tabler can take them. Bell, a .314 hitter with 19 steals a year ago, will hit leadoff and primarily play middle infield, while left-handed ace Tabler brings back a 1.97 ERA and will also hit three-hole after swatting .394 with 13 RBIs in 2016. First-baseman Angel Garcia is an x-factor hitting cleanup for the Black Knights after hitting .343 with 15 RBIs a year ago.

Vanlue
HEAD COACH: Bill Summers (5th year, 25-52).
2016 RECORD: 1-13, 0-11 Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Quin Creager, sr.; Travis Wingate, sr.; A.J. Reed, sr.; Treg Price, jr.; Caleb Bonham, jr.; Troy Ward, jr.; Jacob Kloepfer, jr.
NOTABLE: There’s good news and bad news for the Wildcats this season. The bad: There’s only 10 players on the roster. The good, though, is that five has two varsity letters and seven overall are returning lettermen. Five players have varsity experience on the mound, so while overall depth is an issue the Wildcats should be in good shape in the pitching department.