There is a saying when it comes time for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. You hear it said all the time. Survive and Advance. It doesn't matter how you win, just that you do win. Some paths may seem harder than others, giving teams a true "earned it" feeling if they happen to be the team that moved on.
The state of Ohio released their district pairings last night for the state baseball tournament. While some potential entertaining match ups can be seen down the road, the Hudson District is one where these match up could possibly be seen at least two rounds early. District semi-final games are worthy of regional final games.
It makes the Midwest Regional last March (Wichita State, Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan) look like a cakewalk
The strength lies in the top four seeds:
Walsh Jesuit.... The Warriors are currently ranked as the #2 team in the state. They received far and away the most first place votes in the latest state poll. They are as well balanced as they come. College recruits litter the Warriors lineup, and they can score with any team. Juniors Ty Shoaff and Ryan Feltner anchor a solid pitching staff. There is a reason Walsh is 16-0 on the year. They are really good. No one would be surprised to see them come out of this district. The Warriors will open up their tournament playing the winner of the game between Highland and Firestone next Tuesday, May 13th.
Hudson.... The Explorers of Hudson are currently tied for 9th in the latest state poll, and seem to many people to be flying under the radar. Hudson currently stands at 15-3 on the year, with all losses coming to quality teams. They have shown the ability to win both pitchers duels and offensive shootouts. Starting pitcher Nanak Saran is 5-0 on the year, and is coming off a 5 inning, one hit, eleven strikeout performance against Solon. The Explorers also start their tournament next Tuesday, May 13th, against the winner of Ellet, and a dangerous Brunswick team.
Wadsworth.... The Grizzlies are 13th in the current state poll, sitting at 14-1 for the year. Both losses have come to another team in this district in Copley. Traditionally strong in baseball, this year's version of the Grizzlies are no exception. Junior pitcher Nick Bebout leads the pitching staff, while the offense is led by catcher Alex Laikos, the Campbell brothers Aden and Riley, and rising sophomore Cameron Deemer. Wadsworth will face the winner of the game between Medina and Cloverleaf on Tuesday, May 13th
Brecksville.... The Bees of Brecksville are currently the 23rd ranked team in Ohio in the latest Division I poll. Always a tough out in the tournament, things will be no different this season. The Bees can pitch, led by senior starter Perry DellaValle. It's a team without any stars, but a bunch of good players, such as Colton Carney, Taylor Cave, Ricky Farina, and Anthony Krokos. The Bees open up Monday, May 12th, against Cuyahoga Falls. If they can get past the Tigers, it could set up a potentially tricky sectional final game against the winner of the game between Copley and Stow the next day.
It's not to say that these four teams will cruise into the district semi-finals. There are other teams in this district that will give these four teams fit on the way to the dream semi-final matchups.
Copley beat Wadsworth twice. Medina can throw out highly regarded pitcher Austin Havekost and his upper 80's fastball in a potential second round game against Wadsworth. Brunswick has talent, led by Heidelberg recruit Chaz Bova, and Baldwin-Wallace recruit Nick Furman. Stow is always a traditionally strong program that is competitive with anyone.
In the end, it is probably Walsh's district to lose, but don't say that to the other teams involved. If the Warriors make it through this district, arguably the toughest in Ohio, they will have earned it.
The winner of this district will advance to the Canton Regional with play starting Thursday, May 29th.