Prep baseball preview: NLL by Mark Monroe (Blade Sports Writer)
04/09/2015, 12:18am EDT

Athleticism and success on the football field figures to translate to prosperity on the baseball diamond for Perrysburg this spring.

The Yellow Jackets went 21-7 overall last season and shared a Northern Lakes League co-championship (11-3) with Anthony Wayne. Three players who return also played key roles for the Perrysburg football team that posted the best season in school history.

Gus Dimmerling, Seth Durham, and Chaz Westfall all earned All-Ohio first-team honors in Division II for the No. 1 ranked football team, which went 11-1.

Dimmerling returns at shortstop where he earned All-NLL first team honors. Westfall is a catcher and Durham a second baseman.

The Yellow Jackets have won or shared three of the last four NLL baseball titles and are predicted in a preseason coaches’ poll to repeat as champions.

Veteran coach Dave Hall, who is 552-291 in 30 seasons, has the trio among six returning starters.

“We have a very good defensive team and very good team speed,” Hall said.

Anthony Wayne, which lost five all-league players to graduation, has won two straight NLL titles.

Southview advanced farther in the D-I tournament than any other team. The Cougars defeated Anthony Wayne 3-1 in the regional semifinals before falling in the final.

The league’s parity has been proven during the last 11 years as five of the eight NLL teams have won at least one championship.

“Anybody in the league could come in first, and anyone could come in last,” AW coach Mark Nell said.

Perrysburg (21-7, 11-3 NLL) has eight returning letter winners, including four who earned all-league honors.

Senior left fielder Connor Jordan batted .385 with nine runs batted in and was all-league second team. Dimmerling, who drove in 23 runs, batted .368.

Junior third baseman Trevor Hafner (.338, 10 RBIs) was All-NLL first team. Junior center fielder Zach Honsberger (.270) drove in 17 runs was all-league second team.

Durham (seven RBIs) and Westfall also have experience.

Hall said he has nine pitchers.

Senior Kaleb Mahler (2-2, 2.10 ERA) is the top returner. Senior Kyle DeKoninck (1-0) had a 3.27 ERA and one save. Jordan (1-1) finished with a 3.67 ERA, while Hafner (1-1) posted two saves in relief.

“We have to be able to move runners and play small ball,” Hall said. “We hope to be in the NLL hunt the last week of the season.”

Southview (18-11, 6-8) has six starters back. Aaron Myers, who steps up from his position as an assistant, has eight letter winners.

Senior shortstop Colin Boerst and junior outfielder/​pitcher Nick Vlasnik both earned All-NLL first-team honors. Boerst batted .360 with 12 RBIs and also scored 20 and stole 10 bases. Vlasnik had a .343 average with 14 RBIs and six stolen bases.

Senior catcher Nate Grady earned all-league second team honors. Senior pitcher Tyler Stambaugh (2-4) had a 2.64 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 47⅔ innings.

Senior second baseman Spencer Perry and junior pitcher/​outfielder John Malak also return.

Myers cites defense as a team strength, while pitching may be a concern. He said the players are dedicated with a solid work ethic.

“We look to compete for a league title, make a deep run in the tournament, and get better each day,” Myers said.

Bowling Green (17-13, 4-10) reached the district championship game last season, and five starters are back among 11 seniors.

Coach Bob Schultz, who is in his second season at BG after eight at Owens Community College, said the Bobcats’ biggest asset is their experience.

“These guys are battled tested. They can do some things,” Schultz said.

Senior catcher Spencer Schultz, the coach’s son, earned All-NLL second team honors after batting .375 with 13 RBIs. Senior Mason Apple (IF) had a .316 batting average with 11 RBIs. The other returners are seniors Jeremy Chambers (OF), Mitch Cromley (RHP), Hogan Pash (RHP), and Devon Garcia (IF), a transfer from St. John’s Jesuit.

But Schultz said pitching is always a concern.

“I expect us to win the league,” Schultz said. “We have the talent and experience.”

Anthony Wayne (21-9, 11-3) has won four NLL titles under Nell, who has a 280-117 record entering his 15th season and earned his 400th career win on Monday. The Generals have reached the regional finals twice under Nell.

This season he has three starters back among seven letter winners, but he said it will be “a big overhaul” after the graduation of eight seniors.

Senior outfielder/​DH Peyton Brown, who earned All-Ohio second-team honors, led the NLL in hitting with a .414 average. Brown also led the league with 15 stolen bases and drove in 13 runs.

Senior Aaron Stark (P/​SS/​OF) is a two-year starter and will be used as the closer. The other top returning players are senior pitcher Nate Hall, sophomore Alec Vogel (1B/​P), and junior pitcher Michael Conklin.

“We have some potential,” Nell said. “We have three pitchers that can throw the ball for us. I think we will swing the bat. Our goal is to be in contention the last week of the season.”

Maumee (14-14, 5-9) has experience with six starters back along with solid pitching and defense.

Coach Cam Coutcher, who has compiled a 177-174-1 record in 14 seasons, said the expectations are always to compete for a league championship.

“Our players know that to be successful as a team we need to be unselfish,” Coutcher said.

Senior Brendan Callahan (P/​2B) earned all-league second team honors after posting a 5-2 record and a 1.67 ERA. Callahan walked only four batters all season.

Senior catcher Zak Mathias, who also earned All-Ohio honors, batted .360 with six doubles, four triples, and 17 RBIs. Mathias also stole 14 bases.

Senior Scott Simon (3B/​2B/​P) posted a .317 average with six doubles and 19 RBIs. Junior Austin Calopietro (OF/​SS/​P) finished with a 0.62 ERA and 4-1 record.

Senior John Brady (SS/​3B/​OF/​P) threw 40⅓ innings and had a 4.34 ERA. Senior Nick Kurtz (1B/​P) pitched 44 innings with a 4.45 ERA.

But Coutcher said Maumee is not proven on offense.

“This league is always one of the best in all of Ohio,” Coutcher said. “The NLL has great coaches and players, so our players know that they need to play their best game every time out.”

Napoleon (17-11, 8-6) should have strong pitching and fielding, but the Wildcats lack experience and may have trouble hitting, according to third-year coach Mark Stacey (25-31).

Among six returning letter winners are four starters. But Stacey lost the NLL player of the year: Zach Willeman, a pitcher who is now playing at Kent State.

Senior Michael Gilliland (IF/​P) led the team with a .353 average. Junior Layne Schnitz-Paxton (P/​IF), junior Zach Leatherman (C), and senior Zach Strall (OF) also return this season.

The Wildcats’ top pitching prospects are Schnitz-Paxton and junior Derek Gerken.

“We look to be competitive in a very tough league and hope to make a tournament run,” he said.

Springfield (16-13, 6-8) will rely on a stout defense and solid pitching but will have a lot of inexperienced hitters in the lineup, said seventh-year coach Dave Whitmire.

“We need to be able to score runs and we have to stay healthy,” he said. “We had some unfortunate injuries last season.”

Six letter winners and six starters with four position players and two pitchers.

Senior Billy Todorowski (P/​CF) had a .321 average. He also had a 4-3 record with a 1.71 ERA and 33 strikeouts. Todorowski is still injured and has not been cleared to pitch.

Junior Scott Seymour finished with a .298 average with 17 RBIs, and nine stolen bases. Seymour will be the Blue Devils’ closer. Junior pitcher Ben Richard also will be a key on the mound.

“Our league is very balanced, as it is every year,” Whitmire said. “If we plan on competing for a championship, we have to have baseball execution.”

Northview (10-18, 5-9) returns eight position players and two starting pitchers.

“We have a lot of guys back that gained experience last year,” Wildcats coach Greg Szparka said. “If our pitching and defense hold up, we will have chances to win. The offensive side is a concern, but we have good hitters.”

Senior Eric Walz (P/​U) had a 4-1 record and 1.82 ERA. Junior Corbin Paxton (1B/​OF) had a .380 average. Senior Ryan Moebius (SS/​F) is back along with Preston Due (P/​OF), Mike DiPofi (C), junior David Dunnett (OF/​P), and sophomores Shane Banachowski (3B), and Nick Wyatt (2B).

“I expect to be competitive in every game,” Szparka said. “There’s no off day in this league. If our pitching and defense hold up, we will have a chance to win games.”