Baseball, Softball Prospects for City Series

A Sure Sign of Spring
Posted on 03/25/2019
Image of Baseball/Softball Media Day(Fred Cay for Beacon Journal)

A gray, cool day with snow forecast for later is hardly ideal for spring sports participants.

But it was a perfect time to talk about them — and dream of warm, sunny afternoons — during Thursday’s annual City Series baseball and softball media day at the Akron Education Association.

And it is always a good time to discuss Ellet softball and its remarkable run of league championships — now 18 and counting.

“The thing about this year, there’s going to be a lot of competition,” said veteran coach Chuck Shuman, who has won 28 overall league titles. “There’s a lot of depth on our team. We return seven of our nine starters from last year.”

Shuman was accompanied by seniors Mackenzie McLeod and Sydnie Wolf at the luncheon.

“It’s no secret that I’m blessed because the girls come up to Ellet and they’re softball players,” Shuman said. “My main goal as coach is not to mess them up. I don’t want to over-coach them.”

Ellet, Firestone and Kenmore-Garfield tied for the regular-season baseball crown with 8-2 records last year. Ellet won the post-season title over Firestone.

“It’s an exciting time to come back after last year,” said veteran Ellet coach John Sarver, who brought along seniors Andy McClelland and Jack Tupta. “We had three teams that tied for first place. We kind of determined that might have been the only time that ever happened.”

Last year was the first for Firestone coach Joe Moxon, who guided the Falcons to the league finals. They lost only to Ellet among city teams.

Moxon, who was joined by senior Audrey Hartman and his daughter, Beatrice, a junior, has built a challenging non-conference schedule for the Falcons this season to “really show the teams outside the city that we can compete and hold our own, and to not overlook any of us in the city,” he said. “I feel a lot of times, the respect is not there.”

Firestone assistant baseball coach Paul Gegick, standing in for head coach Jeff Sloan, was joined by seniors Josh Alexander and Ian Hartman.

“We’ve got seven seniors,” Gegick said. “We’re hoping our maturity and veteran leadership will pull us through.”

Kenmore-Garfield’s Rod Reno is in his 17th season as a baseball head coach, 15 of those at Garfield. He brought seniors Gerald Fisher and Roger Wright.

“Last year, we had a knack for making big plays when they mattered,” Reno said. “We’re going to look to hopefully put the same defensive product out there on the field so our pitchers can benefit.”

Courtney O’Donnell, starting her first year as softball coach at Kenmore-Garfield, was joined by seniors Armani Ford and Alyssa Snyder.

“We are a very young team,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve got some returning. We’re looking forward to an exciting year, to grow and to learn a lot as players on and off the field.”

East baseball coach Chuck Rusinek said Michael Grimmet and Avierre Jackson — among a group of six seniors — would lead the Dragons this year.

Rusinek also filled in for softball coach Sarah Kramer, bringing along the only returning seniors, Caitlynn Black and Tashania Griffin, and said it would be a rebuilding year after losing nine seniors.

Buchtel assistant softball coach Valecia White, representing head coach Courtney Stockard, said the Griffins would be a young, rebuilding team. The same is true for a Buchtel baseball team led by sophomores Dylan West and Joseph Moore, said Athletic Director Melissa Powers, who stood in for coach Howard Vaughn.

North Athletic Director Carrie Stewart filled in for softball coach Chris Fryberger and his brother, baseball coach Fred Fryberger. Stewart, who was joined by softball seniors Kyla Jenkins and Peyton Santacroce, said there are 12 returning players for the Vikings. On the baseball side, team leaders are Jaedin Browder and Billy Anderson.

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