Brock Netter, Staff Writer
One state semifinalist, four district champions and a plethora of sectional title winners made this past baseball season well worth covering.
But those were just the highlights. To really understand how special the season was, you’d have to look back on every career-defining moment, every big-moment pitch, and every at-bat that ended with jubilation.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled season, take a look at our All-Area Team, which consists of 30 area players who were at their best throughout the spring season.
Andrew Andronis | Valley | Shortstop | Senior
Andronis was the heart and soul of the Indians’ dugout, providing leadership and an emotional spark whenever the team needed that extra jolt. He batted .351 during the regular season and took his game to a new level in the postseason, batting over .500 with three doubles, eight runs and three RBIs. He was a first team all-district selection and will continue his career at Shawnee State University.
George Arnett | Valley | Pitcher | Sophomore
Valley might have the brightest future of any team in the area, and Arnett is a huge reason why. Emerging as the team’s No. 1 pitching option down the stretch, he took the challenges of pitching in the biggest moments and turned himself into a program legend with strong performances throughout the postseason. That was a huge part in Valley turning in a Final Four run for the ages. He was named first-team SOC II and all-district.
Braylen Baker | Logan Elm | Utility | Sophomore
If you’ve never watched Baker play, you’re missing out on a player that could potentially be the area’s best over the next two years. Yes, he’s that good. He batted .417 on the season with three home runs, five doubles, three triples, 21 runs and 14 RBIs. But he also flashed talent on the mound, earning five wins and striking out 40 batters. He was an all-MSL and first-team all-district selection. Remember his name.
Luke Blackburn | Westfall | Pitcher | Senior
There’s a reason Blackburn has been considered among the top pitchers in Southeast Ohio, and his numbers show why. He finished 8-2 this spring, posting a 1.28 ERA and striking out 134 batters on the season. You can’t really ask for more from your ace. He concluded his Mustang career by being named the SVC Player of the Year, a first-team all-district selection and a first-team All-Ohio honoree.
Brock Blanton | Paint Valley | Pitcher | Senior
The SVC is filled with standout pitchers, but Blanton is a special breed. With a sizzling fastball and a breaking ball that brings batters to their knees, he was the main catalyst to bringing Paint Valley 18 wins, a sectional title and the program’s first district championship since 2015. The Eastern Kentucky-bound standout ended his Bearcat career as a first-team SVC honoree, a first-team all-district selection and a second-team All-Ohio mention.
Alex Boles | Waverly | Utility | Sophomore
Whatever you need Boles to do on the field, he’s going to get the job done with relative ease. Whether it’s on the mound, in the field, or at the dish, Boles is a threat to make any play when he’s called upon. He was named a first-team SOC II and first-team all-district player. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and will only continue to get better.
Ty Broermann | Jackson | Catcher | Senior
Whenever Jackson needed a spark or a shot of energy, Broermann was it’s go-to guy. The vocal leader in the dugout was a major factor of Jackson’s rise from the bottom to the top of the FAC. He finished the season hitting over .300 as he helped the Ironmen win 23 games and a share of the conference title for the first time in school history. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district honoree.
Bryson Brown | Jackson | Pitcher | Junior
Jackson quite possibly had the deepest pitching rotation of any team in the area … so much that Brown wasn’t even their ace. But his impact was felt every single game, whether on the mound or in left field. The West Virginia State commit swung a heavy bat, often making contact and driving runs in while shutting down lineups across the board. It led to him to earning all-FAC and first-team all-district nods.
Connor Bucher | Miami Trace | Pitcher | Junior
All season long, the Panthers were atop every baseball ranking in Division II and Bucher played a major role in that. The southpaw brought the heat every outing on the bump, going 7-1 on the season with a 0.90 ERA and struck out 82 batters. At the plate, he batted .459 with a pair of home runs, six doubles, two triples, 34 runs and 19 RBIs. He was named all-FAC, all-district and second-team All-Ohio. Oh, and he’s back for one more season.
Clay Cottle | Clay | Pitcher | Senior
Cottle has been a winner since he first stepped on the diamond, and nothing changed this season. With a fierce right arm on the mound and next-level bat speed at the dish, he was a force to be reckoned with as he led the Panthers to 19 wins and a Gold Ball. His individual efforts earned him SOC I Pitcher of the Year, first-team all-district and first-team All-Ohio honors.
Cam DeBord | Unioto | Pitcher | Senior
When DeBord is on, just call it a night because you’re not touching him. There’s a reason he went 9-0 on the mound this year and carried a 1.11 ERA while striking out 69 batters. But he was just as good offensively at the dish with a .343 average that included a pair of home runs, eight doubles, three triples and 31 RBIs. He was named first-team SVC, all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio.
Carson DeBord | Unioto | Shortstop | Senior
In case a batter made contact off brother Cam, Carson was always right there to field his position and make the out. While he made plays with the greatest of ease, he also swung the bat just as well. He finished with a .379 average alongside three doubles, 29 runs scored and 26 RBIs. He was named first-team SVC, all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio. You can bet Mount Vernon Nazarene can’t wait to have both Debords in uniform.
Derek Eblin | Waverly | Pitcher | Senior
Eblin might throw the hardest ball in the area, and considering some of the outstanding pitchers we’ve seen this season, that says a lot. Topping out in the mid-90’s, he used his fastball alongside a curveball and a changeup that usually led to a Waverly victory. However, he was also more than capable of winning a game with his bat, racking up RBIs at a premium from his clean-up spot. He was the SOC II Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-district selection. Morehead State awaits his arrival now.
Dax Estep | Paint Valley | Catcher | Sophomore
If Blanton was the present of Paint Valley baseball, Estep is the unquestioned future for the next two years. Doing just a little bit of everything from pitching to catching and coming up with big hits in big spots, he showed that he was ready for varsity action the minute he stepped onto the diamond. He was a second-team SVC selection and a first-team all-district honoree. Be prepared to read his name a lot in the future.
Gavin Free | Huntington | Pitcher | Senior
There was a different level of confidence to Huntington’s dugout anytime Free took the mound. No task was too tall for the senior and he welcomed each and every challenge. He handled all the big-game responsibilities, which included a season-making victory over Unioto … one that forced the Shermans to share the SVC title. Although his season ended in a sectional final victory over Manchester due to injury, he did more than enough to earn his spot as a first-team SVC and all-district player.
Josh Gilmore | Miami Trace | Outfielder | Senior
Part of having a team that won 23 games is having a rock-solid defense. Gilmore was the leader of that unit. He always made the play on defense and made sure to give his pitcher as much run support as possible. Helping guide the Panthers to a share of the FAC title, the senior batted .385 with a home run, six doubles, 22 runs and a team-high 22 RBIs. He was named all-FAC, all-district and second-team All-Ohio.
Eric Green | Wheelersburg | Outfielder | Senior
Success and winning follows Green everywhere he goes. Look no further than soccer season when the Pirates made it to the Final Four with him as the goalkeeper. Translating those skills to the baseball field was as smooth as his play in the net. Nothing got by him defensively, and offensively, he was a base hit and run in the making. It led to him being a first-team SOC II, all-district and second-team All-Ohio selection.
Luke Howard | West | Utility | Senior
With a lot of talent gone after the season lost due to the pandemic, Howard shouldered a heavy load and responded as only a senior could do. Doing a little bit of everything, he helped the Senators win 13 games and make a sectional final appearance. He was named first-team SOC II, first-team all-District and honorable mention All-Ohio for his efforts.
Ethan Ison | Wheelersburg | Pitcher | Senior
Wheelersburg has always had one standout pitcher in its baseball history, and Ison was next to fall in line. When he took the mound, you could pretty much chalk up his outing to a Pirate victory. He was instrumental in the Pirates winning 23 games, which ultimately added up to a sectional and district championship. He earned first-team SOC II and first-team all-district nods.
Shaden Malone | Clay | Infielder | Senior
Malone shined on the basketball court, but he was just as solid on the diamond as well. Patrolling the infield, he was smooth with the glove while showing pop with his bat. That made him one of the more well-rounded players in the area. He was named first-team SOC I, all-district and All-Ohio.
Cade Meade | North Adams | Pitcher | Senior
The Green Devils’ style of play was up-and-down at times this season, but when Meade was on the hill, they were razor sharp. He commanded respect when the ball was in his hands and turned in solid outings all year, striking out over 40 batters and helping the team earn 12 wins. He was an all-SHAC, first-team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio selection.
Ben Nichols | Zane Trace | Pitcher | Junior
Though the season didn’t end up as successful from a win-loss perspective as Zane Trace had hoped, it always had Nichols to rely on at any time. He earned seven of the team’s 11 wins on the mound, carried a 1.24 ERA and struck out 77 batters on the season. From the dish, he batted .441 with eight doubles, 30 runs and 21 stolen bases — all team-bests at the dish and on the mound. He was a first-team SVC and first-team all-district nod.
Carter Nickel | Valley | Pitcher | Sophomore
When it wasn’t Arnett on the hill tossing complete games, it was Nickel mirroring his teammate’s performances. And either way, the result always turned out the same: an Indian win. With the help of Nickel’s right arm, Valley racked up 20 wins, claimed sectional and district titles and earned its first regional championship since 1977. He was a first-team all-district selection.
Matthew Risner | Minford | Catcher | Senior
Risner was one of two seniors on the team, and his knowledge and leadership were both irreplaceable in the Falcons’ dugout. He came through in big spots, not just with his bat, but also with his glove. While helping to continue the proud tradition within Minford’s program, he graduates as a three-time SOC II, sectional and district champion, alongside a regional crown in 2018.
Ryan Scott | Hillsboro | Pitcher | Senior
Anything Scott did in a Hillsboro uniform this school year translated into winning. In basketball, he was the FAC Player of the Year and led the Indians to their best season in over 20 years. Then baseball came and he turned up the heat … literally. With a dangerous bat and a rocket of a right arm, he helped guide Hillsboro to 24 wins including sectional and district titles … the program’s first district crown since 1993. He was named an all-FAC, all-district and second-team All-Ohio player.
Nate Throckmorton | Adena | Utility | Senior
Truth be told, there’s not much Throckmorton can’t do, no matter what sport her plays. But he’s the ultimate glue guy and that is more valuable than anything. When he takes the mound and comes to the plate, he simply brings his lunch pail and goes to work. The southpaw has an unreal break on his curveball and zip on his fastball to match his speed on the base paths. He was a first-team SVC and all-district selection.
Tanner Werner | Hillsboro | Pitcher | Junior
Anytime Werner took the mound, you had to be ready. Not just because of how solid of a pitcher he was, but also for how quick he worked. He wasted no time, rarely allowing a batter to get comfortable in the box, which is partly why he was so successful during Hillsboro’s run to a regional final. He returns as Hillsboro’s ace next season, following all-FAC and second-team all-district nods.
Titan Williams | Westfall | Outfield | Senior
When there’s a conversation about the best hitters in the area, Williams’ name has to be included at the top of the list. He was a base hit waiting to happen, and possessed the speed to turn any routine single into a double. He led the SVC in triples, batted above .450 on the season and scored over 20 runs. He was a first-team all-SVC and all-district honoree and was an honorable mention All-Ohioan.
Colton Vaughn | Eastern Brown | Utility | Senior
Vaughn is already an Eastern Brown legend for what he’s accomplished on the basketball court … 1,000 points and the school’s career leader in rebounds. But on the baseball field this season, he went out with an absolute bang. He helped guide the Warriors to a 20-win season that included a SHAC I title and sectional crown, alongside a district final appearance. He was the SHAC’s Player of the Year and a first-team all-district honoree.
Elijah Vogelsong | Minford | Pitcher | Senior
Unhittable. Dominant. Gamechanger. Winner. So many other words can describe Vogelsong and what he brought to the table every single night. He finished the season with the lowest ERA in school history at 0.35 and guided the Falcons, once again, to SOC II, sectional and district titles alongside a regional runner-up appearance. He was named the SOC II Player of the Year and a first-team all-district. player Surely, Marshall can’t wait to get him in uniform.
Honorable Mention Selections
Rylan Sams, Oak Hill; Holden Blankenship, Jackson; Micah Geise, Unioto; Trent Mettler, Paint Valley; Hunter Green, Hillsboro; Drew Seymour, Chillicothe, Kaden Riffe, Chillicothe; Titus Lotz, Washington; Evan Justice, Circleville; Cooper McKenzie, Wheelersburg; Adam Crank, Minford; Dakota Seacrest, Northwest; Jarrett Garrison, Adena; Peyton Weiss, Westfall; Jaden Jessee, Clay; Jackson Rowe, Ironton St. Joe; Breckon Williams, Valley; D.C. Dailey, Unioto, D.J. Crocker, Huntington, Jaelyn Murta, Southeastern; Flint Barger, Oak Hill; Mason Ratcliff, McClain, Luke Bradford, West; Kyle Reaves, Manchester; Easton Lansing, Piketon