When the NCAA March Madness brackets are released, many sports fans run to the computer, hit print and write down their picks. High school sports schedule releases have a similar effect on sports writers.
Games are circled and calendars are marked. The ink really begins to fill up around this time of the year. Softball and tennis were both supposed to begin their sectional tournaments this week. Baseball’s postseason tournaments and the track and field district meets were scheduled to kick off next week.
As everyone is well aware by now, all seasons were canceled due to the coronavirus. But, the ink on my calendar is permanent, so here is a look at the biggest storylines that we were expecting to follow over the next couple weeks for each school.
Before we start, it should be noted that numerous players emerge onto the scene every year, so I’m sure there would be many more names added to this list before the spring seasons came to a close.
Matt McBride, a 2019 graduate, stole the show last year with a state championship in the 400-meter dash, but he did not travel down to Columbus alone.
McBride was joined by fellow senior Austin Pinkerton and two juniors in Seth Fedor and Aidan Thomas. The quartet finished in seventh place at the state meet in the 4x400.
McBride and Pinkerton would not be easy to replace, but the Spartans had a number of other relay runners clinch a spot at regionals, which would have made for an interesting storyline as the regional and state meets approached.
Logan Poore, Tyler Hayes and Chase Carpenter ran at regionals last year in the 4x800. Jay Green and Logan Mucci joined Thomas and McBride in the 4x200 at regionals. Rylan Davison and Green competed in the 4x100 there, as well.
Lydia Randolph and Dylan Hanna both qualified for regionals last year in track, and both would be looking to inch even closer to state later this month. The softball team took a step forward in 2019 and would be looking to take an even larger one this year after graduating only three seniors from last year’s team.
Edgewood’s baseball team, though, does not need to inch closer or take another step to taste gold. Alec Katon, Brendan Freeborn, Dominic Paolillo, Jimmy Gross, Hunter Olivarez, Ethan Stalter, Nick Welty, Jacob Bell and company should be preparing to defend their title as district champions.
The Eagles softball and baseball teams are always threats to make noise in the Chagrin Valley Conference, as well as the district tournaments, but the track team was in store for a truly special season.
Elizabeth Joy, Tayler Jamison and Charlie Taylor all ventured down to Columbus for last year’s state meet as underclassmen. Renee Tetlow, Leah Costello, Alex Reese, Jacob Mirabell and Gabbi Selman all competed at regionals as underclassmen.
In March, more than a dozen Eagles competed in the OATCCC Indoor Track State Championships at Spire. Cheyanne Santiago, Joy, Jamison and Tetlow won the state championship in the 4x400.
Many poker players will say that the hardest hand to fold is a pair of aces. That’s exactly what GV baseball had to do this spring.
Derek Jackson and Gordon Seger helped pitch the Mustangs to a district title in 2018. Last year, both finished in the county’s top four in ERA, and Jackson was near the top of the leaderboard in strikeouts.
The Mustangs expected a 1-2 punch on the track as well with John and David Steimle.
Like Geneva track, the Falcons softball team had a special year ahead of them. After falling to Perry in the district title game in 2018 and 2019, 2020 appeared to be Jefferson’s year to once again reign supreme.
Sheridon Wilber, Brenna Hagerdon, Sophie Wilber, Destiny Mayes, Lexi Zeman and Tatianna Matuz all hit .330 or better last year. Ava Contenza smacked a home run in the district title game, and the duo of Sheridon Wilber and Matuz combined for nine homers last season.
On the mound, Akron-commit Sheridon Wilber had a 2.47 ERA and struck out 181 batters in 155.2 innings.
In track and field, Morgan Smith reached the state meet last year as a junior in the pole vault. Maddie Pierce, Tracy Squatrito and Taylor Skinner would all be serious contenders for state in their respective events.
The Dragons softball team won 11 games last year for the second consecutive season. They lost two key pieces to graduation, but were expecting a lot of talent to return this spring.
Kalee Grimmett hit over .500 with two home runs in limited games. Kylie Burke hit a pair of home runs. Katlyn Mead had a batting average north of .400 and Alyvia Dalrymple was not too far behind her. Dalrymple also played a strong center field.
Headlining the returnees would have been Sidney Griffith, the 2019 county player of the year. Griffith, a Toledo commit, hit .587 with a county-leading 11 home runs and 51 runs scored.
In addition to the softball team, senior Ryan McClure was expected to make his return to the tennis court after missing last season with an injury. On the track, Anthony Donahue qualified for regionals in two events last May as a freshman.
The Blue Streaks softball program has produced one of the more consistent teams from the area in recent years. A lot was in store for them again this spring.
Halle Blackford owns of the best swings in the area. Last year’s result? She reached base more times than not.
Alyssa Lavdis rarely allows anyone to reach base. In a shortened season last year due to transfer rules, she went 8-2 with a 1.28 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 71 innings. At the plate, she hit .432 with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
Two athletes represented the Lakers in the state track and field meet last June and both were eligible to return next month.
Gabe Warsing, a senior, picked up two state championships and an additional seven top-five finishes, including three silver medals, in the seated division during his time with PV.
Jenna Harvey qualified for state last year as a sophomore in the high jump. She will have the opportunity to go down to Columbus once again next spring.
The Heralds tennis team jumped out to a strong start last spring, winning their first five matches, including victories over much larger schools like Mentor and Perry.
St. John’s first-singles player Cayleb Haynes graduated last spring, but the Heralds were ready to return a strong roster after claiming second in last year’s all-county tournament. David DiSalvatore went 25-4 last year as a second-singles competitor, and would have been one of the favorites for the all-county first-singles title this year, along with McClure, Conneaut’s JT Vendetti and Jefferson’s Ethan Butcher.
Joey Timonere, Jack Hammers, Dylan Carpenter and Dave Fuentes would have given the Heralds one of the deepest rosters in the area — if not the deepest.