Hubbard falls to NDCL 6-0 in district title game, finishes season with 18-11 record
LOUISVILLE — Hubbard’s run came to an end on Thursday in the Division II, Louisville District finals, dropping a 6-0 contest to Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
“It was a good season, obviously it didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but I think this is a good building block moving forward,” Eagles coach John Schiraldi said. “Getting to a district finals is a good accomplishment and we’ll build from this going forward and hopefully advance further next time. All in all, I’m proud of the guys. They battled to the end, played a lot of tight games, and did a lot of good things to get here.”
Hubbard had a handful of tight games to reach the district title game. First, in their sectional bracket final, the Eagles faced a league rival and fellow rising program in Struthers.
After eight innings, the Eagles reigned victorious, and were rewarded with a district semifinal contest against a tough West Branch team. It didn’t get any easier, but Hubbard topped West Branch 1-0.
Hubbard’s league, the Northeast-8, has a lot of strong baseball programs, giving the Eagles the prep they need for the postseason.
“We played in a lot of tight games,” Schiraldi said. “I think our conference prepares us for that. There were two other district champs (Lakeview and South Range) out of our league and we were in the final. Poland made a little run too. There’s a lot of good teams in our league. I think it prepares you for this.”
The Eagles (18-11) graduate a senior class of eight, including Keegan Balla, Nik Hendrix, and Ben Wilcox.
The group of seniors helped steadily improve Hubbard’s program and put it on the path to future success.
“They’re great kids, not only baseball players, they’re just good human beings, good role models, good students, good representatives of the school and what you would want in a baseball program,” Schiraldi said. “When their career started would have been COVID season, so starting your high school career losing a season. After that we improved every year. When they were sophomores, we were around .500, then last year we got better and obviously this year, we won 18 games and got to district finals.”
The cupboards definitely aren’t empty. Hubbard returns two of its top pitchers, including both Andrew Kali and Braydon Songer who each pitched on Thursday.
“We do have a lot of key guys coming back,” Schiraldi said. “I think the pitchers will put in a lot of work and work on throwing strikes and everything. They’ll stay after it. They’re all good players and play in the summer. We’ll just keep working with them.”
Songer, a freshman, entered the game in relief for the Eagles. Despite the high-pressure situation, he handled it well.
Hubbard has a lot of quality youth on the roster, so Schiraldi is optimistic on next season.
“He’s great. He really gets us going in general,” Schiraldi said of Songer. “Offensively he’s our leadoff hitter. Pretty rare to have a freshman batting lead. And he’s hitting around .380 and is really good defensively, and plays way above his years. Gabe (Rusnak) and Johnny (Reyes) are two sophomores who started last year for us as freshmen, and the year before that Andrew Kali started as a freshman, so we’ve had a nice little run. On top of that, Jonny Adamson played a lot for us too as a freshman.
“We’ve got a good core group coming back. We had five juniors who all lettered, a good sophomore group and a couple of freshmen. I think there’s stuff to build on, obviously, it’s frustrating now, but rarely does it ever end now you want it to.”