It’s been said that player coached-teams are better than coach-coached teams.
On the surface that may sound silly. But the truth of the matter is, if a team’s best players are not only participating in practice, but also going out of their way to help others get better in the long run the team will simply be better.
The London High School baseball team is going through this same type renaissance this spring, as a host of older players are leading on and off the field and the payoff could be significant.
“We have a really good group of guys,” Red Raiders coach Nick Blake said. “‘Commitment’ has been our theme since November. What does it look like? How is it achieved? These are things the group as a whole is learning because we have a core group of players who are paving the way in that regard.
“We have watched seniors stay an hour after practice to hit freshman ground balls. These guys will never step foot on the field with one another, but that senior is committed to bettering these guys and our program. We have watched guys staying after practice to get some work off of the tee while its snowing sideways. That’s commitment. We are still learning the game, but it has been an exciting few months.”
Leading the way in the leadership department are senior first baseman Caleb Whitacre and junior outfielder Nick Schooley. Their commitment to the team has been something the London coaching staff has been able to count on.
“These guys are at our gold-level in terms of their commitment,” the coach said. “They are here after practice every single day, and making sure to bring others with them. We will be relying on their leadership throughout the season.”
The Red Raiders will once again be competing in the Mid-State League Ohio Division, one of the tougher baseball leagues in Central Ohio. In order to compete with those teams London will need to be able to hold its own on the mound.
“I really like where we are at with our pitching staff,” Blake said. “We have 2-3 arms who we can run out there that will give us a chance each day. After that we have a handful of really good young arms, but their ability to throw strikes consistently will be key for them.
“Pitching will be a strong point for us. We should be able to hold our own defensively. We lost an all-league catcher in Levi Meade last year, so that is an area we have been looking at very closely. In terms of offense, we have the ability to be much more creative than we were last year. We have speed almost 1-9 in our order, so it is my job to put our guys in situations to score runs and be successful. “
The MSL will feature annual district championship contenders as well as a couple others who will make playing league games on a nightly bases a chore.
“The MSL is tough,” Blake said. “Bexley is the top dog until someone else knocks them off. Academy will be tough as always. Worthington Christian and Grandview are really good teams. Whitehall gave us problems last year. There are no easy wins. That’s a challenge you certainly look forward to though.”
The London varsity roster in addition to Whitacre and Schooley include seniors Riley Elliott (first base) and Stuart Weyrich (second base), juniors Cameron Greenhill (P/OF), Jacob Fox (P/SS), Tristan Maynard (P/OF), Hunter Thiel (second base) and Dustin Massie (catcher). Others on the roster include sophomores Ethan Hastings (INF/OF), Drew Herman (C/P), Ethan Hensel (1B/P), Brixton Evans (3B/P), Thad Huffman (third base) and Seth Best (catcher), as well as freshman Logan Minner (OF/P).
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.