With Ohio high schools currently voting on a third Competitive Balance Proposal, Carlisle knows the sting of being a public school punted from the postseason by a parochial opponent.
The Indians aren’t complaining.
“Teams like Fenwick and Badin play big-time teams all the time and their records don’t mean a thing,” Carlisle High School baseball coach Chris Hawkins said. “They’re not afraid to play a 20-win team and we have to understand that. We have to understand that in the tournament, someone is trying to end your season. You have to take it personal.”
Last year, the Indians carried a 24-2 record into the sectional opener against .500 Fenwick (12-12). Carlisle lost 6-5 in extra innings.
Today, Carlisle, Fenwick, Waynesville and Badin will vie for the No. 1 seed at the 12-team Division III Dayton District draw. It’s a stacked field.
And one the Indians intend to survive.
Ranked No. 6 in the Ohio Prep Baseball Report JJHuddle.com state poll, Carlisle was 20-2 heading into Saturday’s doubleheader at Edgewood. Both losses are to SWBL Buckeye Division brethren Waynesville.
“If we get a chance to play them again, so be it,” Hawkins said. “They’ve done a great job with their program and they have Ty Black (Ohio University). They beat us both times. We didn’t play bad either game.”
Carlisle hasn’t played bad for a while.
The Indians are 86-19 the last four seasons and lost just one senior off last year’s team. That senior, however, was Alex Leach (.707, 60 RBIs and 35 stolen bases). He was a major reason Carlisle leaned heavily on an offense that set numerous school records.
This year, pitching is the catalyst. The Indians have six pitchers with at least two wins. All are underclassmen.
“We knew it wasn’t realistic to expect the kind of offense we put up last year,” Hawkins said. “We were scoring 14 runs a game and baseball’s just not built that way. If we hadn’t pitched as well as we have, we’d probably be a .500 team.”
Juniors Andrew Goodpaster (5-1, 30 strikeouts, 1.37 ERA) and Josh Tarter (3-1, 28 strikeouts, 2.20 ERA) are the aces. Classmate Alec Turner excels everywhere. Undefeated on the mound (3-0) with 29 strikeouts, Turner is batting .423 with 25 RBIs, six doubles, two home runs and 15 runs scored.
Senior Dan Wilcher (.478, 24 hits, 16 runs, and 15 RBIs) and junior Skylar Kelly (.436, 21 runs, 12 stolen bases and 11 RBIs) add octane to the offense.
Hawkins hopes a recent win over Vandalia-Butler and a designed closing stretch against Eaton, Edgewood, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and Kenton Ridge (DH) tests his team prior to the tournament.
It’s all about focus.
“As coaches sometimes we use it to needle them for motivation, but the kids don’t talk about that Fenwick game much,” Hawkins said. “A couple weeks ago after one of our games we said we weren’t tournament-ready yet and someone mentioned Fenwick. Most said let’s not bring that up.
“It’s there. These kids know what it feels like to lose.”