Springfield focused on a return to Columbus
By Steve Wilaj
On the weekend of April 11-12, the Springfield High baseball team headed about four hours south to the town of Sidney in west-central Ohio. The Tigers played two games against Minster High and one against Fort Loramie High.
They swept Minster — the Division IV state champions in 2011 and 2012 — and defeated 2010 Div. IV state champs Fort Loramie.
“We had a chance to do that with the connection that I made with a coach from Minster my first year when they beat us in the 2011 title game,” Tigers coach Matt Weymer said Tuesday. “It was nice for the kids to go out of town and stay at a hotel and participate in those types of things.”
But could another southern-Ohio trip be in store for Springfield (16-1), last year’s Division IV state runner-up? Perhaps to Columbus for a return to state competition?
“That’s all we think about is getting back there,” Tigers senior catcher Hunter Snyder said.
Teammate Ryan Kohler echoed that feeling.
“To get back to state would be the best thing ever,” the junior centerfielder said.
However, this year’s trip would be a little different. Div. IV state runners-up for three of the past five years, Springfield moved up to Division III this season, a change that Weymer said focused the team even more.
“In D-IV with our recent past, we set the bar to the point where we were that team to beat,” he said. “Now going into D-III, we kind of have to show those teams that we’re the team to beat.”
So far so good.
Springfield’s only loss came in their second game of the season against Cardinal Mooney on April 1. Since then, the Tigers have won 15 straight.
They are 8-0 since returning from Sidney. They’ve outscored their opponents 106-8 during that stretch while defeating last season’s Div. III state runner-up Ursuline, 4-2, on Sunday.
“It seems like after we made our little trip and with everybody being together for a whole week, we’ve meshed real well,” Snyder said. “Ever since then we’ve really been hitting the ball, playing great defense and everybody’s been playing to their whole potential.”
Not that the team wasn’t close prior to its mini-trip.
Springfield’s 12-man varsity roster is made up of two seniors, one sophomore and an astounding nine juniors. Six starters returned from last season’s state title game, a 2-1 loss to Newark Catholic.
You can see why Weymer likes his team’s chemistry.
“I think that’s such a huge plus,” he said. “They really enjoy being around each other and this is just an extraordinary group of kids.”
The Tigers are putting up some extraordinary numbers. Snyder is pacing the Tigers with a .596 batting average to go along with 37 runs scored and 21 RBIs.
Kohler, who leads the team with 28 RBIs, is batting .558. Senior James Hillyer is batting .385 and has knocked-in 24 runs.
“Our batting order in general is really good,” Kohler said. “There are no low parts. So if one particular person doesn’t get on base, we don’t have any worries.
“We all do our jobs and do our parts.”
On the mound, Hillyer (5-0) has been the top Tigers arm, throwing a team-high 31 2/3 innings while holding a team-low 1.11 ERA.
Junior Jordan Peterson (4-0) has a 1.42 ERA in 24 2/3 innings and Dalton Donachie (4-1) owns a 3.11 ERA in 18 innings-pitched.
“We’ve had a lot of guys throw well,” Weymer said. “And our defense has been very good behind them.”
Safe to say, Springfield is working its way towards its second — and most coveted — road trip this season.
“We just have that motivation to make it back to state this year,” Hillyer said. “We had a really good time last year and we believe we have the team to make it back.”