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Area baseball players cited their parents and siblings as being driving influences in their careers.

Published: Fri, July 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

Area baseball players cited their parents and siblings as being driving influences in their careers.
School: Poland
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .562 with 31 RBIs, seven doubles, five home runs, 17 walks and just two strikeouts.
Positive influence: My father for coaching me and instilling in me his knowledge and love of the game. He made me realize that if you concentrate on the fundamentals, everything will eventually click.
Best memory: Beating Canfield in the district finals after losing to them in the finals the last two years.
Surprised to learn: I am a second degree black belt in Kenpo karate, a one-time state and national Karate champion and a Junior Olympic qualifier.
School: Struthers
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .450 with three home runs; first team All-Metro Athletic Conference.
Positive influence: William Cammack. He has been a friend, a father and a coach for me. His faith in me has made me a better person.
Best memory: My best friend and teammate, Bob Benson, took the mound against Hubbard for the first time in years. He won the game by running out a hitter to first on a comebacker to the mound. He was quoted in the paper as being a truck!
Surprised to learn: I was valedictorian at Struthers and will attend Wabash College in Indiana.
School: Chaney
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted school-record .513; finished 6-1 with 2.37 earned run average as pitcher.
Positive influence: My mother and father. When I was little, I didn't want to play baseball but they made me play and without doing that, I wouldn't have been here today.
Best memory: Playing and winning at Cafaro Field and playing in the All-Ohio tournament in Columbus.
Surprised to learn: I was one of the few who got to play with two brothers on the same team.
School: Fitch
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Team MVP; team highs in batting average (.465) and RBIs (26); first team All-Steel Valley Conference two straight years.
Positive influence: My parents. They have always encouraged me to be the best I could be. They have supported everything I've ever done and are my biggest fans.
Best memory: Our trip to Cocoa Beach. We went 5-1 and really bonded as a team.
Surprised to learn: I graduated with a 3.75 grade point average and was a member of National honor Society. I will attend the University of North Carolina Asheville on a baseball scholarship.
School: Lisbon
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .477 with three home runs and 26 RBIs.
Positive influence: Dave Coldwell. He's taught me everything I know about the game. We have had many pitching duels in the back yard.
Best memory: My coach chewing his gum like a crazed barnyard cow when things get tough.
Surprised to learn: I like to destroy Quadraseptic Orangutans on the verge of annihilation.
School: Jackson-Milton
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .438 with 28 RBIs; 5-2 as a pitcher with a 2.34 ERA.
Positive influence: My brother, Jake. I have watched him play ever since I was a little boy. When it comes to baseball, he is my idol.
Best memory: Pitching a perfect game in the sectional semifinal.
Surprised to learn: I really like working with children and plan to be an elementary school teacher.
School: Boardman
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .505 with 46 hits, including four home runs.
Positive influence: My dad. He taught me dedication and was always there through good and bad days.
Best memory: Hitting a home run in the district finals against North Royalton.
Surprised to learn: I was also a member of National Honor Society and student council.
School: Warren JFK
Grade: Sophomore
Statistics/accomplishments: 6-0 record -- 2-0 in tournament games -- with 0.42 ERA. Had 61 strikeouts in 491/3 innings with 12 walks. Allowed only two extra base hits all season, both doubles. Pitched a one-hitter in district final and did not give up an earned run in a 3-2 regional semifinal victory over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.
Positive influence: My father. He has motivated me to do my best in whatever I do and it has especially paid off in baseball. He has worked with me since little league to put me in the best possible situations. Because of his interest and my love of baseball, I have progressed and with a lot more hard work, I know I'll keep getting better.
Best memory: Going to the regional championship. We won the semifinal in nine innings. It took us two days, but it was worth it. Unfortunately, we lost to Elyria Catholic 2-1, but it was the farthest any JFK team had gone and we were inches from being the first to go to state. Our team bonded closer and closer as the season progressed.
Surprised to learn: I have spent the last two summers playing for the Cincinnati Midland Organization, an nationally known amateur baseball organization. More than 40 players from CMO have played in the Major Leagues. It's a lot of fun.
School: Chaney
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .507 with 10 doubles, 31 RBIs, .884 slugging percentage and .605 on base percentage.
Positive influence: My parents. They push me to do my best in anything I do on and off the field.
Best memory: Playing Campbell at Cafaro Field.
Surprised to learn: I enjoy baseball more than football.
School: Canfield
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: First team All-Metro Athletic Conference; batted .412 with 33 hits and 25 RBIs, a .540 on base percentage, 15 stolen bases and 22 runs.
Positive influence: My father. He has been the greatest coach and has always done everything in his power to help me become the best player I can be.
Best memory: Hitting the second of back-to-back home runs at Poland.
Surprised to learn: I've bowled for almost 10 years and was a two-year letterwinner and MVP of Canfield's bowling team.
School: Poland
Grade: Junior
Statistics/accomplishments: 8-1 record with 79 strikeouts and 3.50 ERA.
Positive influence: My dad for introducing me to the game and continuing to help me improve.
Best memory: Winning the district championship.
Surprised to learn: I am a jazz trumpeter and an amateur filmmaker.
School: Hickory
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .472 with 18 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .603 on base percentage. Had 4-2 record as a pitcher with a 2.62 ERA.
Positive influence: My father. He has taught me almost everything I know about the game. He's coached me and has always been there to watch me play.
Best memory: Making the District 10 playoffs.
Surprised to learn: I like to sketch and draw in my spare time.
School: Canfield
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .506 with 44 hits, 35 RBIs and had a 6-0 record with a 3.50 ERA.
Positive influence: My father. He's very supportive in everything -- sports and academics. My mom is my No. 1 fan.
Best memory: Our spring trip to Myrtle Beach and beating Poland at home.
Surprised to learn: I earned best of show two straight years in our school art show and earned first place in our county art show.
School: Hubbard
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Team MVP; three-year letterwinner; career record of 11-8 with 1.40 ERA. Struck out 179 batters in 144 innings while walking just 41.
Positive influence: My father because he always encouraged me to strive to be the best pitcher I could possibly be. He devoted numerous hours to helping me improve my pitching skills.
Best memory: Pitching a shutout against Lakeview in my final game and earning a scholarship to YSU.
Surprised to learn: I put ranch dressing on everything and secretly listen to Neil Diamond.
School: Campbell
Grade: Junior
Statistics/accomplishments: Had 65 strikeouts in 43 innings with a 2.30 ERA; batted .375 with three homers, 18 RBIs and five stolen bases.
Positive influence: My father because he made time to see my games since I was 6 and has always supported me in any sport. And my cousin, George Metzka. He played college baseball and I've wanted to be like him ever since I can remember.
Best memory: Throwing a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts in the tournament and hitting my first home run at Roosevelt Park against Mooney.
Surprised to learn: In the middle of the season, I was benched and pulled out of game quite a few times. I was hard-headed and I never listened to my coach (Wayne Zetts). Then I started to listen and pay more attention to him and realized he was just trying to bring out the best in me. Because of listening to him, I earned a spot on this all-star team.
School: South Range
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Went 8-3 as a pitcher; first-team All-ICL.
Positive influence: My dad. Since I was 8 or 9, he has taught me everything I know about pitching, from the mental to the physical aspects of the game. I can remember many times driving with him in the car, talking about pitch selection and working for hours in the yard on my mechanics.
Best memory: Our trip to Cocoa Beach, Fla. Not only did we have a great time, but we bonded and became a closer team. We carried that bond throughout the season and that helped us get as far as we did.
Surprised to learn: I graduated as a honor student and as a pitcher, I can confidently throw five of the seven pitches -- fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and sidearm fastball.
School: Lisbon
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .397 with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
Positive influence: My dad has always helped me with my problems throughout every baseball season and taught me how to bat and throw curveballs. He has always made me keep my head up during a bad practice or game. He helped to make me the player I am.
Best memory: Hitting two home runs in our first game against Crestview. I had five RBIs that night.
Surprised to learn: I am a very respectful person to others and enjoy helping people to become better individuals.
School: Howland
Grade: Junior
Statistics/accomplishments: MAC pitcher of the year; 1.60 ERA with an average of 1.5 strikeouts per inning; batted .400 with two home runs and three triples.
Positive influences: Scott Knox and Ed Stacey. I've worked with Scott since I was 9. He taught me the game of baseball and developed my swing. Ed is the best pitching coach I've ever had. He taught me proper mechanics and how to be a pitcher instead of a thrower.
Best memory: Beating Canfield. It was their first and only MAC loss. I had 11 strikeouts against Warren Harding in seven innings and hit the game-winning home run against Harding in our only win against them.
Surprised to learn: I'm an altar boy at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Warren and I help Father Dennis Michelis with Sunday church services.
School: Girard
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .435 this season and have a .450 career average; led team in hitting both junior and senior year; All-TAC-8 both junior and senior year.
Positive influence: Mr. Flere from McDonald. He was also a catcher and when I was in eighth grade, I worked out with the varsity team and he worked with my catching mechanics -- especially blocking the ball.
Best memory: Having one of the most successful seasons in the history of Girard baseball.
Surprised to learn: People think that I have a tough personality because I am so intense on the baseball field, but off the field I enjoy a nice dinner and a movie with my girlfriend.
School: Girard
Grade: Junior
Statistics/accomplishments: 7-0 record with 0.714 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 49 innings and two no-hitters.
Positive influence: Anthony Penza. He embedded the seed that inspired my great love for the game.
Best memory: Throwing no-hitters in consecutive starts.
Surprised to learn: People think all I care about is baseball, but I enjoy a lovely evening with my girlfriend.
School: Boardman
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .456 with six home runs, 35 RBIs and 42 runs scored.
Positive influence: Definitely my father because of the time he has spent in making me a better player. At any time I can ask him to feed me soft toss or put balls on the tee in the backyard and he'll drop what he's doing to help me. I look up to my father a great deal.
Best memory: I have a ton from this season. Being on a team that started 18-0 was amazing. Going 5-for-5 with two home runs against Warren Harding was fun. I'd say the best memory was playing on this team. We were so close and we were all best friends. We had team cookouts and pool parties and it was a great to be on this team.
Surprised to learn: How supportive my family is. My brother and sister call after every game to see how I did and my mom and dad always cheer me on at the games.
School: Kennedy Catholic
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .592 with five home runs, 1.296 slugging percentage, 13 walks, five intentional.
Positive influence: My parents. My dad because he taught me the love of the game and the fundamentals. My mom because she loves me and supports everything I do.
Best memory: Hitting a home run against Sharpsville that gave us the lead.
Surprised to learn: My grandpa played for the Pirates organization and I'm grateful that he comes and watches me play.
School: West Branch
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .395 with 34 hits, 27 runs, 29 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.
Positive influence: My coach, Lynn Grove, has always motivated us to do our best, but when it came time for the game, he just let us play.
Best memory: Beating Carrollton and Louisville for the first time in our varsity careers. That meant the other seniors and I had beaten every team in the league.
Surprised to learn: I am interested in art and I won two awards at the Mahoning County art show.
School: Ursuline
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .442.
Positive influence: My father, because since I was a little kid he would practice with me no matter what the circumstances. It did not matter if he was sick or just got off work and had not slept in over a day, he would stay and work with me in the field until I was happy.
Best memory: Getting to play with my brother, Sean, for the first time in my life. I played shortstop while Sean, a freshman, played second base.
Surprised to learn: I lettered and earned All-TAC-8 honors at Liberty my freshman and sophomore years. I did not transfer to Ursuline until my senior year.
School: Columbiana
Grade: Junior
Statistics/accomplishments: Broke school records in strikeouts in a season (112) and innings pitched (75); tied school record for wins (7); had 2.12 ERA.
Positive influence: My father and my grandmother. My father has always been like a personal coach and even though he's never played baseball himself, he has always been able to help me see something I wouldn't have on my own. I give my grandmother a lot of the credit for sparking my interest in baseball. My love for the game would not be what it is today were it not for those two.
Best memory: Playing "In the Red" and doing outfield drills with Coach Rupert, "Storytime" with Coach Wolfe, bus rides with Danny and Nate and the first round district game when were able to come back and win despite my "sub-par" performance.
Surprised to learn: I love to play guitar and I waste an enormous amount of time doing it. My favorite band is Weezer. I have been a Pittsburgh Pirates fan all my life and still believe their return to glory is in the very near future. I am also on the speech and debate team.
School: Western Reserve
Grade: Sophomore
Statistics/accomplishments: Had team highs with a .427 batting average and 29 RBIs; had a .733 slugging percentage; went 2-0 with a 3.39 ERA; first team All-ICL, second-team All-Ohio.
Positive influence: My dad. He has spent lots of time pitching balls to me in our batting cage since I was little.
Best memory: The road my team and I traveled and the memories up to and winning the district title for the first time in school history.
School: Crestview
Grade: Senior
Statistics/accomplishments: Batted .355 with two home runs and 23 RBIs.
Positive influence: Coach Greg Rinyo. He has guided me in the right direction and has taught me everything about baseball that I need to know.
Best memory: Winning the Tri-County League title; being named catcher on the All-TCL team with a unanimous vote; playing at Thurman Munson Stadium in Canton in the East-West All-Star game; playing at Jacobs Field with the Northeastern Ohio All-Stars.
School: Western Reserve
Statistics/accomplishments: 21-7 record this season with a career record of 84-58.
Positive influence: I'd like to think I've gained something from all of my experiences. I've tried to learn something from everyone who coached me, all the great people I've coached with and against and, of course, I'm constantly learning how to deal with players from my own team. I feel like I learn something new at every practice and every game.
Best memory: The 60 seconds following the last out after winning the district championship. I'd love to bottle that up and open it every preseason. I'd give every player a sip just so they would truly understand what all the hard work is for. Those 60 seconds were one of the most fun moments of my life.
Surprised to learn: I quit playing baseball when I was 10. I was horrible. I didn't play again until I was 15. All of a sudden, I could play and I was pretty good. I've learned that you never can tell when a player will develop. Don't give up on any of them. Even if you cut a player one year, encourage him to keep trying. All of these young men develop at different rates and stages. You never can tell when someone is going to surprise you and become a quality player.

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