Miami County Baseball Preview

Andy Mead returns for his third season as Bradford baseball coach.

The Railroaders were 10-11 overall and 6-5 in the CCC two years ago.

The Bradford pitching staff will be led by seniors Gage Wills and Taven Leach, while junior Keaton Mead is behind the plate.

Freshman Tucker Miller heads up the infielders, while sophomore Brendan Baker leads the outfielders.

“This year our team is looking forward to a competitive season with the leadership of three experienced upperclassman who happen to be our only junior and seniors,” Mead said. “The team also includes nine freshman and sophomores who will make significant contributions.”

COVINGTON

Andy Johnson returns for his fourth season as coach.

The Buccs had a 10-2 record in summer Acme play last year.

Returning letterwinners for Covington include seniors Jake Hamilton, Cooper Jay, Wes Gooding, Avery Rench, Job Morgan, David Robinson, Duncan Cooper Juniors: Jensen Wagoner, Kody Nelson, Jake Dilley and Carter Maxson.

“Jensen Wagoner and Jake Hamilton will be the leaders of our pitching staff this season,” Johnson said. “Their experience and talent provides us with a very formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

“Wes Gooding and Avery Rench gained a lot of confidence after their performances over the summer, and they are ready to step up when their names are called. We have nine pitchers we trust to get outs for us this season.

The Buccs will also be strong behind the plate

“Duncan Cooper will be our starting catcher with David Robinson stepping in to spell him when needed,” Johnson said. “They are great communicators on the field, and they have worked really hard to improve their skills behind the plate.”

The infield will be versatile.

“All of our infielders can pitch, so we will be moving players around depending on who is on the mound,” Johnson said. “Jake Dilley has really matured over the last year, and Job Morgan is going to be asked to play multiple positions this season. Cooper Jay will be the leader of our infield from the shortstop position. He spent a lot of time at the field and in the batting cage during the summer, and we are looking forward to a great year from Cooper.”

The outfield will be versatile as well.

“We have a strong rotation of outfields we plan on using throughout the season,” Johnson said. “Jensen and Jake provide us with great arm strength in the outfield when they are not pitching or playing first base. Kody Nelson will run through a brick wall to make a play for his teammates, and he reads the ball so well off the bat.

“Carter Maxson can give us great range in right field. I have really been impressed with how quickly Deacon Shields has picked up his fielding skills after not playing baseball for several years. He has great speed, and can be a very good outfielder for us.”

Johnson is looking forward to a good year.

“The team is really excited about this season, and they have set high goals for themselves,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of talent on this team, but talent alone does not guarantee success. We have had great practices over the past month, and we cannot wait to start playing games. Our goals are to win the league, and have an exciting tournament run.”

LEHMAN CATHOLIC

Justin Tucker takes over as Lehman baseball coach.

Last year was scheduled to be his first season before COVID hit.

Tucker had an 89-47 record as Tri-County North coach.

Lehman was 22-5 in the 2019 season.

Returning letterwinner is senior Alex Keller.

The top pitchers will be Keller and junior David Rossman.

Sophomore Hayden Sever will be the catcher, while the top infielders are Keller and Rossman.

The top outfielders will be sophomore Nate Sollmann and seniors Will Voisard and Jon Vanskiver.

We will be very young this season, we will start two to four freshman on any given day,” Tucker said. “Our senior leadership has been great, and look to build throughout the season to make a run later in the year.

“This is my first year in the conference and most teams have lost most of their returning starters to graduation as we did. Should be wide open this year in the NWCC.”

NEWTON

Jordan Kopp returns for his third season as head coach.

The Indians were 22-5 two years ago and district runnerup.

The returning letterwinners include seniors Ross Ferrell, Mitchell Montgomery, Caden Sweitzer and Alex Koon; and juniors Colin Tackett and Lane Bayer.

Ferrell and Tackett will lead the pitching staff, while sophomore Carson Knupp will be the catcher.

Mitchell Montgomery and Bayer will be key members of the infield, while sophomore Hudson Montgomery will be the starting shortstop.

The top outfielders include Sweitzer and sophomore Harold Oburn.

“We are looking to finish in the top half of the league (CCC),” Kopp said. “We have depth on the mound. We will need guys to step up on defense. It is good to be back and we are excited to be playing in our new ball park. We will be only team in CCC with turf in the infield.”

TIPPECANOE

Bruce Cahill returns for his 37th season at Tippecanoe baseball coach.

Cahill is approaching another milestone with a career record of 692-293.

The Red Devils were 18-11 in 2019, before losing last season to COVID.

Returning letterwinners are seniors Matt Salmon, Jonny Baileys, Troy Taylor and Jake Smith.

The top pitchers will be junior Matt Salmon, Taylor and Baileys, while senior Clay Vaughn will handle the catching duties.

The infielders will include Salmon, Taylor, senior Jacob Smith, juniors Braydon Bottles and Jacob Bowerman and sophomore Max Dunaway.

The outfielders will include Baileys, senior Gavin Martin, juniors Braden Clausen and Trey Davis and sophomore Josh Dietz.

“The MVL, as always, will be strong with Butler as the pre-season favorite,” Cahill said. “Troy has a great nucleus of young players and Piqua and Greenville have much improved teams and have pitchers that can win on any given day.”

TROY CHRISTIAN

Tony Ferraro returns as Troy Christian baseball coach.

The Eagles were 16-6 two years ago.

Some of the key players will be seniors Charlie Knostman (outfielder) and Ethan Twiss (infielder), juniors Lucas Day (infielder, pitcher), Gavin Blore (infielder, pitcher) and Adam Twiss (infielder, pitcher) and sophomores Zane Harris (pitcher) and Ben Major (outfieler).

Day led the MBC two years ago with a .457 average and was second in the conference with 27 RBIs.

“We have some key young players that will add to this mix,’” Ferraro said. “We hope to be competitive in the Metro Buckeye Conference. We hope our blend of youth and experience will make for an exciting season. We like the make-up of our ballclub and believe that our tough schedule will get us ready for the postseason.”