High-SchoolOhio: Baseball

We featured Moeller in the local magazine and touted them as a team to look out for come playoff time. Don't want to sound cocky, but we nailed it. The Crusaders captured their sixth state crown with a victory over Westlake last week. The win vaulted Moeller to No. 36 in the national rankings. Grove City, which fell to Moeller in the semifinals, comes in at No. 2 after a stellar season. St. Francis DeSales repeated as D-II champs to round out the top three.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Moeller (22-5) — last week No. 2
2. Grove City (25-2) — last week No. 1
3. St. Francis DeSales (24-6) — last week No. 5
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.

For the POWERADE FAB 50, click here
Despite losing a pair of teams to playoff losses, Ohio still holds strong with four ranked squads in the Midwest Region. At the top of the list is two-loss Grove City, which sits at No. 2 in the Midwest. Division II power Defiance is No. 3 while Moeller creeps up nine spots to eighth overall. The playoffs ended the ranked reign of Centerville, Wayne, Jackson and Avon, but those squads have a shot to return in the final installment based on total body of work.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Grove City (25-2) — last week No. 1
2. Defiance (28-1) — last week No. 2
3. Moeller (22-5) — last week No. 3
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
The playoffs have a way of messing up our rankings, but that wasn't the case this past week. Walsh Jesuit succumbed to an early postseason exit and dropped out but the rest of our top 10 was mostly unchanged. Jackson also struggled to close out the season and dips four spots to No. 8, while we welcome newcomer Ashland to the mix. We were lucky this week, but expect some major changes to the top 10 over the next few weeks.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Grove City (23-2) — last week No. 1
2. Defiance (26-1) — last week No. 2
3. Strongsville (19-3) — last week No. 3
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
Just when we thought we found some stability at the No. 1 spot, Boardman upset top-ranked Massillon Jackson to knock the Polar Bears from their perch. Therefore, a new No. 1 has been crowned as Grove City usurps Boardman atop the rankings and Jackson dips to No. 4. A pair of teams heading in opposite directions are Moeller and Walsh Jesuit. Moeller is red hot after winning eight in a row and moves up to No. 6, while Walsh has been up and down in recent weeks and stumbles to No. 9.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Grove City (20-2) — last week No. 4
2. Defiance (21-1) — last week No. 3
3. Strongsville (18-3) — last week No. 2
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
For the third consecutive week, Massillon Jackson occupies the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The 15-win Polar Bears are also one of five local squads featured in this week's Midwest Regional. Not much movement in this week's rankings as Avon is the lone new team, replacing five-loss Mason. Strongsville jumps back in the top three ahead of D-II power Defiance.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Jackson (12-1) — last week No. 1
2. Strongsville (17-2) — last week No. 5
3. Defiance (18-1) — last week No. 2
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
This week's rankings only features one new team (Ashland), but also eight squads that find themselves in new spots in the top 10. Jackson went undefeated last week and retains its spot atop the list while occupying the No. 10 spot in the Midwest Region. Centerville moves into the No. 2 spot after Walsh Jesuit stumbled against Archbishop Hoban and Grove City continues to move up on the strength of its 14-1 mark. Division II power Defiance and former No. 1 Strongsville rounds out the top 5. Moeller is a team to look out for as the young Crusaders have played some elite out-of-state teams and could be a tough out when postseason play begins.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Jackson (12-1) — last week No. 1
2. Centerville (17-1) — last week No. 4
3. Grove City (14-1) — last week No.5
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
The Midwest Region rankings seriously impacted this week's local top 10 as every team landed in a new spot this week and one squad dropped out entirely. Strongsville was heavily penalized for its loss to unranked Medina and fell from No. 5 to a bubble team in the region. Therefore, they tumble to No. 6 locally. The new No. 1 is Massillon Jackson, which rose to No. 12 in the region with a 10-1 mark. Walsh Jesuit moved up three places to No. 2 locally after a five-spot improvement in the region, while Defiance (No. 17), Centerville (19) and Grove City (20) all made their region rankings debut and round out the top five locally. St. Francis DeSales dropped out to allow Hudson to make its debut.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Jackson (10-1) — last week No. 2
2. Walsh Jesuit (9-1) — last week No. 5
3. Defiance (9-1) — last week No. 7
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE baseball rankings.
It's tough to get a good read on teams this early in the season. Pitchers are still getting warmed up and coaches may still be tinkering with their roster to produce the best lineup. Therefore, expect a lot of changes to the rankings over the next few weeks. The overhaul of the top 10 begins this week as six new teams enter the fray. Massillon Jackson, Elder, Grove City, Defiance, Centerville and Mason all make their season debut. Preseason No. 1 Lakota East and Vandalia Butler have both fallen out the top 10 but expect them back once they regain their winning groove. Strongsville is the new No. 1 despite a loss to Moeller in its last outing.

Here's a look at the top of the rankings:
1. Strongsville (7-1) — preseason No. 5
2. Massilon Jackson (8-1) — preseason NR
3. Elder (9-3) — preseason NR
Click here to see the rest of the POWERADE state rankings.
This story originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of ESPNHS Ohio.

By now you’ve probably seen our preseason POWERADE FAB 50 and wondered to yourself, “Where’s Moeller?” This year marked the first time the Crusaders failed to crack the top 50 rankings since the 2009 poll was released.

“With who we graduated last year, we’re not as high as usual, and that’s fair,” says Moeller skipper Tim Held. “But this team isn’t a year away. I think we’re ready now.”

While Division I favorite Vandalia-Butler and preseason No. 42 Lakota East feature veteran lineups and clear-cut aces, Moeller’s optimism stems from its emerging young stars Cameron Whitehead and Zach Shannon. Whitehead, a junior C/1B, has the potential to be an All-State-caliber player this spring, while Shannon, a sophomore 1B/RHP, is ready to make a splash with the five-time state champs after starring on the freshman squad last spring.

Graduation may have gutted this squad, but it could be the proverbial team no one wants to see come playoff time.

“All the pieces are there,” says Held. “It’s going to be a good product.”

Senior Ty Amann is the old head on the roster and will complement the youth movement with the experience he gained during the team’s 2009 championship run. He hit a shade over .400 last spring and was 15-of-15 on stolen bases.

The Crusaders don’t feature a hard-throwing hurler but go five deep in a rotation anchored by seniors Brian Burkhart and Phillip Diehl and southpaw John Tanner.

“We might not have a clear No. 1 guy, but I have five guys I can roll out any day, in any inning,” Held says.

As is often the case with a young, unproven roster, there are likely to be some growing pains early in the season. But with the program’s rich pedigree combined with its blossoming stars, don’t expect the Crusaders to be absent from the national spotlight for long.

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.
Taylore Cherry BBDanny Vega/ESPNHSButler ace Taylore Cherry is rated the nation's No. 10 RHP by ESPNHS.
This story appeared in the March 2012 issue of ESPNHS Ohio edition.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like being on the receiving end of a 90-mph fastball? That same question ran through the mind of Vandalia-Butler senior Lance Straley as he prepared to catch 6-foot-9 ace Taylore Cherry (pictured) this past offseason.

“It was pretty intimidating,” says Straley. “I was thinking, ‘Just don’t get hurt.’ When I caught him as a freshman, he was throwing in the 80s. Now, on a good day he’s pumping them in at 96.”

Straley underwent Tommy John surgery as a sophomore, which sidelined him from catching the last two seasons as Cherry blossomed into an elite pro prospect. With Straley now healthy, the Aviators feature one of the state’s top batteries, and the squad appears charged up for another deep playoff run after reaching the region finals in 2011.

“I definitely think us working together will benefit the team this spring,” says Cherry. The UNC-bound hurler was key to Butler’s ascension last season, sporting a 6-1 record with a 1.38 ERA and 94 K’s.

And Cherry could be even better this spring after adding a slider to his arsenal. Joining him in the rotation are formidable senior hurlers Kyle Fain and Austin Craine.

Straley, who batted .406 in 2011, should ignite an offense that graduated its top three hitters. Senior Dan Link and juniors John Myers and Pete Yorgen are also expected to help pick up the slack on offense.

As a team, Butler went 27-4 last spring and posted three come-from-behind victories in the postseason, leading head coach Trent Dues to affectionately compare his club to boxing speed bags.

“Every time we took a punch we bounced right back,” explains Dues. “We got behind and counter-attacked.”

With Cherry bringing the heat on the mound, look for the Aviators to land some haymakers on their foes this season.


ESPNHS has announced its preseason All-State baseball teams, so feel free to start debating the Ohio selections.

It's no surprise that flame-throwing aces like Vandalia-Butler's Taylore Cherry and Solon's Matthew Smoral earned a spot on our first team squad. But check out the entire list for who else made it, and then hit up Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste to let us know who else should've made the cut.

Click here for the Ohio All-State baseball team.

Click here for any of the other 49 states.

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