Brock Netter, Staff Writer
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.
George Arnett | Valley | Pitcher | Junior
The Indians were the state’s top-ranked team atop every list in Division IV. Arnett was a major reason why. The junior aided the Indians to 22 wins and sectional and a district championships. He hit north of .300, scored more than 20 runs and racked up 20-plus RBIs while continuing his dominance on the mound when his name was called. He was a first-team SOC II and first-team all-district honoree.
Braylen Baker | Logan Elm | Outfielder | Junior
Baker is a special talent who has all the tools to play at the next level. He’s well worth the price of admission. Just watch any highlight of his and you’ll know that’s a fact. He finished the season batting .474 with 27 hits, including three home runs, four doubles, 13 runs scored and 16 RBIs – all team-highs — to earn first-team MSL and first-team all-district honors.
Holden Blankenship | Jackson | Shortstop | Senior
Blankenship has been a staple of Jackson’s program, manning his shortstop position and changing the culture of the program since he walked onto the field. He helped the Ironmen claim back-to-back 20-win seasons and batted .329 with 25 hits this spring. Those numbers came alongside 37 runs and 15 RBIs, both of which were second highest on the team. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district selection.
Alex Boles | Waverly | Pitcher | Senior
Once again, Boles was the unquestioned leader of the Tigers’ dugout. The junior polished off a stellar season on the hill with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP. Opponents hit just .106 against him in 59 innings of work. He was just as dangerous at the dish, anchoring a lineup that competed for a title in one of the region’s toughest conferences to win. He was an all-league and an all-district selection.
Connor Bucher | Miami Trace | Pitcher | Senior
When Bucher is truly on, there’s only a handful of pitchers who can match him and select hitters who could touch him in the area. He was the catalyst for a Panthers squad that won 14 games in a shortened season. Bucher led MT in a number of statistical categories and was named the FAC Player of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
Nick Burns | Circleville | Pitcher | Senior
It’s impossible to miss Burns on the diamond. He’s a literal man among boys at 6-foot-5 and looks the part. He has the game to back up his size, too. Helping lead Circleville to 17 wins and a sectional title, he batted .412 with nine doubles and 25 RBIs. On the mound, he finished with an 8-1 record and carried a 1.30 ERA while striking out 86 batters. He was an all-MSL and a first-team all-district honoree.
Adam Crank | Minford | Shortstop | Junior
Since Crank has put on a Minford uniform, all he’s done is win. Conference crowns, sectional titles and district titles — he’s been a part of it all. With a fluid swing at the dish and a silky smooth defensive game from his shortstop position, the junior continued to leave his mark on the program, helping the Falcons win their fourth straight district title. He was a first-team SOC II and first-team all-district selection.
A.J. Dallmayer | Washington | Outfield | Junior
No team in the area had a better trio of pitchers than Washington. And sometimes, Dallmayer could be the best one. But while he possesses a fastball that reaches nearly 90 miles per hour, it was his hitting that earned him this spot. He batted .328 on the year with a pair of home runs and triples, alongside 10 doubles, 22 runs and 22 RBIs. That was enough to earn him all-FAC, first-team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio nods.
Trey Edler | Zane Trace | Pitcher | Senior
Edler was the X-factor in what turned out to be one of the best seasons in recent Zane Trace history. At the dish, he batted .378 with 31 hits, including a pair of home runs and triples, five doubles, 32 runs scored and 33 RBIs. On the mound, he went 6-2 in 51 innings and struck out 35 batters. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Carson Emery | Whiteoak | Outfield | Junior
This junior class, featuring Emery, is keeping Whiteoak’s baseball program on the map. Helping the Wildcats win 21 games and a SHAC II title, Emery constantly delivered the goods as he finished with a .386 average alongside 12 doubles, 33 runs and 37 RBIs. He earned first-team SHAC, second-team all-district and second-team All-Ohio honors.
Dax Estep | Paint Valley | First Baseman | Junior
Estep was supposed to be Paint Valley’s ace until an injury derailed his season on the mound. But it didn’t take away his bat and he still did nightly damage. He finished as the Bearcats’ leader in doubles (10) and RBIs (27), which was enough to earn him first-team SVC and first-team all-district honors.
Gabe Fouch | Fairfield | Pitcher | Sophomore
Whether pitching, hitting or fielding, Fouch’s impact was going to be felt one way or another. He went 6-2 on the hill with a 1.18 ERA in 53 innings and struck out 89 batters. At the dish, he batted .371 with 26 hits, 10 doubles, 20 runs and 12 RBIs. He helped Fairfield win the SHAC I title and a sectional championship with a district final appearance in the bag. Fouch was named all-SHAC and first-team all-district.
Micah Geise | Unioto | Outfielder | Junior
As a sophomore, it was clear Geise had the goods. A year later, he looks every bit like the real deal. The junior standout helped guide the Shermans to 22 wins, a share of the SVC title and a sectional title by batting .418 with nine doubles, four triples, four home runs, 40 runs and 21 RBIs. He was named first-team SVC, first-team all-district and second-team All-Ohio.
Andrew Griffin | Unioto | Pitcher | Junior
An argument could be made that no player had a bigger one-year jump than Griffin did. He went from playing in half of Unioto’s games last season to being an All-Ohioan. He batted .453 with 34 hits including a pair of home runs, 12 doubles, 24 runs and 28 RBIs. Additionally, he was 5-1 on the mound with a 1.34 ERA in 34 innings of work while striking out 34 batters. He was — peculiarly — named second-team SVC, first-team all-district and honorable mention All-Ohio.
LT Jordan | Waverly | Shortstop | Sophomore
Waverly might have faced a small bump in the road this season, but Jordan’s play continued to shine every in game. Helping the Tigers win double-digit games, he was a constant threat to score on the base paths and backed up his pitchers nightly with one routine play after another. He was a first-team SOC II and first-team all-district selection.
Braylon Leach | Huntington | Outfielder| Sophomore
When Leach is on the base paths, good luck getting him out because he can flat-out fly. He scored 35 times, hit four triples and stole 18 bases on the season, all team-highs. Add 11 doubles to his resume as well, and you understand why he’s on this list. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Tanner Lemaster | Washington | Pitcher | Junior
We all know about Lemaster’s work on the football field, but his impact on the baseball diamond looms just as large. Whether it’s hitting for power or blowing a fastball past a batter, he was a special part of a group that won a share of the FAC, a sectional crown and the program’s first district title since 2007 – a game in which he threw a five-hit shutout against Sheridan. He was named all-FAC and first-team all-district.
Logan Martin | Wellston | Pitcher | Sophomore
Martin entered Wellston’s program as a freshman and showed a lot of promise. He took his talents to a new level this season, helping the Golden Rockets win 19 games and a sectional title. He batted .380 on the year with 35 hits and 13 doubles, and drove in 20 runs. He also carried a 1.77 ERA in 55 innings, going 5-2 and striking out 81 batters on the bump. He was named first-team TVC and first-team all-district.
Robert Martin | South Webster | Pitcher | Junior
Martin faced the best of the best when it came to league play, and routinely showed why he’s a top pitcher in Southern Ohio. Though his record was 6-5 on the season, he carried a 0.80 ERA in 69 2/3 innings and allowed just eight earned runs while striking out 110 batters. That helped the Jeeps win a sectional title and make a district final appearance. He was named first-team SOC II, first-team all-district and second-team All-Ohio.
Caeleb McGraw | Jackson | Catcher | Senior
If ducks are on the pond, McGraw is the guy you want coming to the dish. He’ll get the job done. Helping lead Jackson to another 20-win season, he finished the year batting .457, ripping six doubles, stealing 16 bases, scoring 19 times and driving in 37 runs. He ended the year with all-FAC, first-team all-district and second-team All-Ohio honors.
Cooper McKenzie | Wheelersburg | Catcher | Senior
In a long line of great players to come from Wheelersburg, McKenzie was next on that list. With a strong arm to throw out any runner from his catcher post, combined with a strong bat to knock in runs, he guided the Pirates to another conference crown and sectional title. The Bowling Green State University commit was the SOC II Player of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
Ben Nichols | Zane Trace | Pitcher | Senior
Five-tool player. There’s absolutely nothing that Nichols can’t do on the diamond. Just look at his numbers — .480 batting average, 49 hits, 17 doubles, 17 stolen bases, 43 runs and 38 RBIs. On the mound, he went 10-1 in 67 innings with a 1.77 ERA and struck out 81 batters. Ridiculous. He helped lead the Pioneers to 24 wins, a share of the SVC crown, a sectional title and a district final appearance. He was the SVC Player of the Year, a first-team all-district honoree and a first-team All-Ohio selection.
Carter Nickel | Valley | Pitcher | Junior
Quite frankly, it was pick your poison for the Indians. Whether it was Arnett or Nickel you faced, you knew you were in for a dogfight. In Nickel’s case, he never lost a game. Literally. He was 6-0 on the hill with a 0.33 ERA in 42 innings of work and struck out 64 batters. Even more impressive than the ERA was that he only allowed six walks. He was first-team SOC II, first-team all-district and first-team All-Ohio.
Nate Price | Whiteoak | Catcher | Junior
Price is another key cog in this Wildcat junior class that helped win a sectional title and their first district crown since 2018. He also came through in the clutch, ending the season batting .403 with 10 doubles, 27 runs and 36 RBIs. He was the SHAC Player of the Year, a first-team all-district honoree and an honorable mention All-Ohioan.
Aodhan Queen | Minford | Third Base | Senior
Queen’s light on his feet defensively and simply makes plays, similar to his knack for providing fireworks at the dish. As part of one of the most decorated classes to come through Minford, his winning pedigree and leadership led the Falcons to sectional and district championships this season. He was named first-team SOC II and second-team all-district.
Rylan Sams | Oak Hill | Pitcher | Junior
Sams is the face of Oak Hill baseball, and he’s been worth the hype since he put on the jersey. He batted .431 on the season with three home runs, 10 doubles and 20 RBIs — all team-highs — and scored 19 times. On the mound, he went 5-3 in 53 2/3 innings with a 1.43 ERA and struck out 86 batters. He was named first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Blake Stuntebeck | Ironton St. Joe | Pitcher | Senior
Stuntebeck’s numbers are ridiculous across the board, but that’s what happens when you’re big-time like he is. He batted .481 with three home runs, four triples, nine doubles, 34 runs and 35 RBIs. On the mound, he went 6-1 in 52 1/3 innings with a 2.54 ERA and struck out 93 batters. He led the Flyers to 21 wins and a sectional title, earning himself a spot on the first-team SOC I and first-team all-district lists.
Hunter Thomas | Wheelersburg | Pitcher | Senior
Replacing any ace on a team is never an easy task, but that was on Thomas’ to-do list this season. True to Wheelersburg’s standards, he didn’t miss a beat and the Pirates continued their winning ways as he helped them secure an SOC II and sectional title. He was the SOC II Pitcher of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
Brayden Webb | Symmes Valley | Pitcher | Junior
When it was time for the rubber to meet the road, Webb was the Vikings’ go-to guy. Whether he took the mound, or came up with a clutch hit, he was going to make something happen one way or another. He led the Vikings to 17 wins, the SOC I crown and a sectional title. He was the SOC I Player of the Year and a first-team all-district.
Peyton Weiss | Westfall | Pitcher | Senior
The Mustangs won 10 games this season, and five of those wins were because Weiss was on the hill. Maintaining a 2.08 ERA, he also led the SVC in strikeouts with 96. Additionally, he batted over .300 with seven doubles and nearly 20 RBIs. The University of Findlay commit was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Honorable Mention Selections
Spencer Wyckoff, Hillsboro; Bryson Brown, Jackson; Isaiah Leeth, Unioto; Landyn Patterson, Unioto; Austen Ison, Zane Trace; Cody Rawlings, Adena; Creed Warren, Wheelersburg; Cole Borland, Minford; Wyatt Thatcher, Circleville; Trevor Fike, West; Dalton Black, Huntington; Connor Butler, Whiteoak; Wyatt Haupt, Eastern Brown; Titus Lotz, Washington; Jaren Lower, South Webster; Tate Queen, Valley; Tra Swayne, Piketon; River Hayes, Vinton County; Daewin Spence, Portsmouth; Jeremiah Frisby, Wellston; Jarrett McWhorter, Southeastern; Dillon Hyer, Miami Trace; Zane Porter, Peebles