College coaches have flocked to Medina County, and this year’s list of recruits speaks for itself.
Led by Brunswick four-year starter Kyle Michalik (Ohio State), the area has more than a dozen players already committed to play collegiately.
Black River has pitcher/outfielder Brandon Tomes (Defiance), Brunswick has Michalik and Buckeye has pitcher Eli Kraus (Kent State), catcher Scott Cloudy (Gannon), third baseman Joe Bruening (Tiffin) and catcher Nick Sedlon (Tiffin).
It doesn’t end there, as Cloverleaf features shortstop/pitcher Jayson Sykora (West Virginia Tech), Highland has first baseman/outfielder Luke Raley (Lake Erie), Medina has pitchers Cory Teachout (Ashland), Mike Ellenbest (Saginaw Valley State), catcher/first baseman Nick Fryer (Grove City) and designated hitter Conner Green (Ohio Wesleyan) and Wadsworth sports outfielder Jack Pecnik (Lake Erie), pitcher Ryan Prather (Ohio Northern) and catcher Kyle Karaffa (Heidelberg).
As if they weren’t enough, Brunswick’s Brian Lees has caught the attention of MLB scouts, and colleges are also keeping an eye on Black River’s Andrew Vaughn, Brunswick’s Gerry Salisbury, Kyle Burson and Kyle Wheeler, Cloverleaf’s Devin Cunningham, Highland’s Jacob Pries and Medina’s Mike Faschian.
Here’s an in-depth look at the county’s seven schools:
Coach: Dozier Hendershot (5th season).
Career record: 38-65.
Last season: 7-21, 3-13 (6th Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division).
Key letterwinner lost: Jackson Weinzatl (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Branden Tomes p/1b/of (Defiance recruit); Justin Campbell p/1b; Nick Filak utl; Ted Bowersock c/of. Juniors — Andrew Vaughn ss/of (HM All-Gazette); Nick Sas 1b/3b; Tyler Sexton p/inf; Sean Holly c/of. Sophomore — Glen Crabtree 1b/3b/p.
Newcomers: Senior — Dakota Kuntz of/p. Sophomore — Alex McIntyre utl.
Noteworthy: With nine returning letterwinners and the rest of the Stars Division battling serious graduation losses, the Pirates are gunning for their first winning season since 2006. The combination of Tomes and Sexton on the mound gives Black River a respectable 1-2 punch, and the speedy Vaughn, who is coming off wrist surgery, has all the potential to be one of the league’s most dynamic players.
• Vaughn led the county with 20 walks last season.
• Tomes had a brilliant 5.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. He led the county by a wide margin.
Coach: Todd Winston (6th season, 8th overall).
Career record: 82-40 at Brunswick.
Last season: 23-5, 8-2 (T-1st Northeast Ohio Conference River Division, Hudson Division I District runner-up).
Key letterwinners lost: Brandon Kutrubs (Gazette MVP); Anthony Bova (All-Gazette); Tyler Greiner (All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Kyle Michalik p/ss (All-Gazette, Ohio State recruit); Brian Lees c/3b/1b (HM All-Gazette); Gerry Salisbury p/1b (All-Gazette); Kyle Burson 2b (All-Gazette); Mike Cintron c/dh; Joey Verbiak cf/p; Kevin Soucek inf/p; Kyle Wheeler p/1b. Junior — Nick Furman p. Sophomore — Gary Clift Jr. of.
Newcomers: Seniors — David Reiter Jr. of; Che O’Connell p. Juniors — Alex Creeger p; Ryan Kuntz of; Cory Welsh 3b/c; Chaz Bova c; Jake Skonier of.
Noteworthy: Brunswick lost three college players in Kutrubs (Heeston, Kan.), Greiner (Bowling Green State) and Bova (Akron), but returns All-NOC Valley Division picks Michalik, Lees and Burson. It is particularly strong in the infield, as Lees, Michalik, Burson and Salisbury had an eye-popping .954 combined fielding percentage last season, and on the mound, where the combination of Salisbury, Michalik, Burson, Furman and Wheeler is arguably the deepest in the 18-team NOC.
• Lees will move from third base to his natural position of catcher and is coming off a breakout summer. Welsh, who hit .364 in limited time last season, takes over third.
• Salisbury is the top county returnee in innings (57⅓) and strikeouts (63).
• Brunswick has finished above .500 in 34 of its last 35 seasons.
Coach: Steve Wright (2nd season).
Career record: 18-11.
Last season: 18-11, 13-3 (T-2nd Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division).
Key letterwinners lost: Tyler Nichols (All-Gazette), Sam Kraus (All-Gazette); Cory Schultz (HM All-Gazette); Shane Miller (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Scott Cloudy c (HM All-Gazette, Gannon recruit); Joe Bruening c/3b (Tiffin recruit); Nico Galizio 1b; Nick Sedlon c (Tiffin recruit); Kyle Friel ss/p; Nick Duliba of; Alex Green of/p. Junior — Eli Kraus p (HM All-Gazette, Kent State recruit).
Newcomers: Seniors — Corey Scott of; Mike Millward inf; Tom Matheney 1b/3b; Robert Nonamaker 2b. Juniors — Tyler Sovizral 2b; Vinnie Galizio ss; Cody Fortney 3b/of; Barrett Huspaska p.
Noteworthy: The Bucks will play four games at the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., next week. The trip was paid for through fundraisers.
• Former Buckeye coach Mike Davis has returned as a volunteer pitching coach. Davis compiled a 45-48 record from 2008-11.
• Fortney is a transfer from Medina. He rushed 29 times for 92 yards for the Bees football team last fall.
• Kraus is the county’s leading returner in ERA (1.83).
Coach: Josh Boggs (2nd season).
Career record: 6-19.
Last season: 6-19, 1-13 (8th Suburban League).
Key letterwinner lost: Brandon Hayes (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Jayson Sykora p/ss (West Virginia Tech recruit); Tim Romanotto of/c. Juniors — Devin Cunningham 3b (All-Gazette); Adam Cooper p/3b; Freddy Wells c/3b. Sophomore — Tyler Hissom ss/of.
Newcomers: Seniors — Kyle Church c/of. Junior — Cody Wooley p; Andrew Podolak of; Dylan Horner 2b; Tate Arters of. Sophomores — Dillon Mullins p/1b. Freshman — Kenny Wells c.
Noteworthy: Cunningham led the returning team leader in batting average (.447), runs (21), doubles (5), stolen bases (15), on-base percentage (.511) and slugging percentage (.579).
• Wells’ 19 walks were second in the county last season.
• The Colts’ home field is newly renovated, with the most notable change being the leveling of the notorious hill in center field.
Coach: Jay Grissom (1st season).
Career record: 0-0.
Last year: 22-6, 12-2 (1st Suburban League).
Key letterwinners lost: Chad Sedio (All-Gazette); Jerry Scholle (All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Jacob Pries p (All-Gazette); Luke Raley 1b/of/p (All-Gazette, Lake Erie recruit); Kenny Sanford p; Zach Garcia of; Ricky Esker ss (HM All-Gazette); Anthony Ondrejcak 1b/p (HM All-Gazette); Ryan Miller of; Clay Condon of; Dylan McVay p. Juniors — Grant Loeding c; Bruce Kinsey c/3b/of; Ryan Hepner 3b/p.
Newcomers: Senior — Steve Demczyk of. Juniors — Alex Harris of/ss; Zac Melchiorre ss/2b; David Savron ss/of; Brandon Waldo 1b/of/p; Eddie Williams p/of. Sophomores — Ashton Budzinski utl; Greg Roth p/c.
Noteworthy: Despite losing their entire outfield, the Hornets’ core is strong with a 10-player senior class led by Lake Erie recruit Raley and the crafty Pries. Esker, Ondrejcak, Hepner and Loeding return in the infield, while the speedy Garcia moves from behind the plate to the outfield. Pitching depth following Pries is a concern, though Sanford, McVay and Hepner received experience during doubleheaders last season.
• The Hornets are scheduled to play at Progressive Field for the second straight year when they battle Rocky River on April 19. Highland defeated Ravenna 10-1 at the home of the Indians last season in McVay’s first career start.
Coach: Nick Kaplack (8th year).
Career record: 106-90.
Last season: 8-19, 2-8 (6th Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division).
Key letterwinners lost: Rutger Luebke (All-Gazette in 2011); Will Hiteshue (All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Mike Faschian of (HM All-Gazette); Andrew Sokolowski p (HM All-Gazette); Cory Teachout p (Ashland recruit); Mike Ellenbest p/1b (Saginaw Valley State recruit); Tanner Winters p; Chad Zubek ss; Geoff Hardy 3b/p; Patrick Beal utl; Nick Fryer c/1b (Grove City recruit); Conner Green dh (Ohio Wesleyan recruit). Juniors — Matt Whittaker p/of; Brian Letts of; Eric Rapenchuk of; Brent Lary c. Sophomores — Collin Minor 2b.
Newcomer: Sophomore — Austin Havekost p/of.
Noteworthy: Medina will once again kick off its season in Vero Beach, Fla. The trip cost is $1,250 per player and was funded entirely by donations and raffles. “We documented everything and we have receipts for everything,” Kaplack said.
• In an effort to stem the tide of gymnasium boredom, Medina played an intrasquad scrimmage in 2 inches of snow Monday at Kenneth Dukes Stadium.
• The Bees are coming off their fewest wins since 2001, but have reason for optimism with a deep senior class highlighted by the rotation of Teachout, Sokolowski and Ellenbest. Offense will be the big question mark, as it averaged just 4.1 runs a year ago.
• Faschian, who is moving to the outfield from second base, led the county with five triples last season.
• Green is the drummer of the Medina-based band “Jazz Tan Laundry.”
Coach: Greg Pickard (2nd season).
Career record: 9-17.
Last season: 9-17, 4-10 (T-6th Suburban League).
Key letterwinner lost: Brandon Palidar 1b (HM All-Gazette).
Returning letterwinners: Seniors — Kyle Karaffa c (HM All-Gazette, Heidelberg recruit); Jack Pecnik of (Lake Erie recruit); Ryan Prather p (Ohio Northern recruit); Jeff Stover p; Lewis Weber inf; Connor VanFleet 1b; Brad Schieman p; Chris Joyce p; Nate Jones of; Nate Aberle of. Junior — Aden Campbell 3b (HM All-Gazette). Sophomore — Riley Campbell ss; Nick Bebout p/of.
Newcomers: Sophomores — Alex Laikos c; Kyle Pennington inf; Adam Dennison inf; Tim Knipl 3b; Will Rock utl.
Noteworthy: The Grizzlies have gone eight straight years without a league title. It’s their longest such stretch since competing as an independent from
• Dennison is the son of longtime Wadsworth football coach Greg Dennison, while VanFleet, an All-Gazette offensive lineman, is the son of Medina girls track and field coach Scott VanFleet.
• Wadsworth is scheduled to play seven of its first 10 games on its newly constructed field behind the high school.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.