Seven Adams County athletes recognized for outstanding seasons –
By Mark Carpenter –
An annual tradition of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference is the honoring of its student-athletes and that continued recently with the naming of the SHAC All-Conference Baseball Team, chosen by a vote of the baseball coaches. The spring of 2018 was a very successful one for a number of SHAC squads, especially the Final Four Whiteoak Wildcats, as well as a pair of squads from Adams County.
Coach Joe Kramer took an athletic and talented group of West Union Dragons and led them to the SHAC big school championship with a sparkling 11-2 conference mark, their first SHAC crown since 1989. Right on the heels of the Dragons were Coach Rob Meade’s North Adams Green Devils, who made a late-season push to challenge West Union and ended up just a game behind in second place with a conference record of 10-3.
The efforts of the Dragons and Green Devils did not go unnoticed by the SHAC coaches, as the two teams combined to place five players on the All-Conference Team- Brandan Cornell, Jared Fenton, and Ryan Rothwell from West Union, and Bryant Lung and Elijah Young from North Adams.
The junior Cornell rotated this spring between the pitcher’s mound and shortstop, with most of his time spent on the rubber, leading the team with 37.2 innings pitched and posting a 4.65 earned run average, a number inflated by a tough outing in the team’s sectional tourney loss to Valley. The right hander finished with a 5-2 record, fanning 39 hitters and walking just 19. At the plate, Cornell hit .356 (21-59) with nine extra-base hits, including a home run, scoring 24 runs and driving home 18.
The senior southpaw Fenton tossed 35.2 innings on the mound for the Dragons, posting a 4-1 record with a glistening earned run average of 1.77. He struck out 43 batters and walked 23, and allowed 29 hits. At the dish, the left-handed power threat hit .360 (18-50) with a .508 on-base percentage. He pounded out eight extra-base hits, including a homer, drove home 18 runs and scored 15 times, also drawing a team-high 15 walks.
The left-handed hitting Rothwell is one of the most multi-talented athletes in the county and this spring displayed his wares on the diamond to the tune of a .419 batting average (26-62). Rothwell drove home 13 runs and crossed the plate himself 21 times with a .446 on-base percentage. His speed on the base paths resulted in eight stolen bases without once being caught. Throwing right handed, he pitched seven innings, going 1-0 with a 2.00 earned run average.
From North Adams, the senior Lung, whose career will continue at the next level at Ohio Christian, had a bat on fire from the season’s beginning to its end, hitting a blistering. 453 (34-75). The right-handed swinger also banged out 14 extra-base hits, including a homer in a conference win over West Union. Lung led the Devils with 26 runs batted in and scored 25 runs, with a slugging percentage of .707 and an on-base percentage of .481. He was also the ace of the North Adams pitching staff, throwing 38 innings and going 5-1 with an impressive 1.29 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 21.
The junior Young was a versatile tool for Coach Meade in 2018, usually manning the shortstop position or donning the equipment and handling the catcher’s spot. Young hit .333 for the season (19-57), driving home 12 and tying Lung for the team lead with 25 runs scored. Always hustling and always with a dirty uniform, he stole 10 bases without being caught and in six appearances on the mound, was 2-0 with an ERA of 3.23.
“I am very proud of both Bryant and Elijah,” said Coach Meade. “They were major components to the success we enjoyed. Bryant was a pleasant surprise on the mound and Elijah did a great job behind the plate when Bryant was pitching.”
In just his first year at the high school level, Manchester freshman Kyle Reaves earned a spot on the All-SHAC Team, hitting .293 (12-41), while manning numerous positions for Coach Dustin Cook’s Greyhounds. Though the team struggled in 2018, Reaves was certainly a bright spot, driving home a team-high 10 runs, and posting a .434 on-base percentage. The right hander also pitched in with 7-2 innings on the mound, and is looking at a bright future in his three more seasons in the blue and gold.
The final Adams Countian to earn All-Conference recognition was Peebles senior Stephen Penn, who recently signed his letter of intent to continue his baseball career at UC-Clermont. Penn was the leader of Coach Kenny Dick’s young Indians squad, usually rotating back and forth between shortstop and the pitcher’s mound, where he was undoubtedly the ace of the Peebles staff. According to assistant coach Brian Seaman, Penn hit well over . 400 in his senior season, one in which the Indians won their first sectional tournament game over Sciotoville East, but then fell to Whiteoak.
The Final Four Wildcats captured the coveted Gold Glove trophy by going unbeaten (13-0) in SHAC play and had four players named to the All-Conference Team- Evan Brill, Chase Carraher, Traeten Hamilton, and Caleb West.
The remainder of the All-SHAC squad consisted of: Sam Buddelmeyer and Cody Gragg-Fairfield, Blake Croy and Josh Wolfe-Lynchburg, Evan Deisch and Zak Smyth-Fayetteville. and Hunter Ruckel and Ian Wiles- Eastern Brown.
All of the All-Conference players were recognized at the SHAC Spring Sports Awards, held at Peebles High School on May 21.
SHAC Baseball Final Standings
Division I (Big School)
West Union 11-2
North Adams 10-3
Eastern Brown 5-8
Division II (Small School)