It’s been 84 years since the Centerville Elks reached the high school baseball state tournament, which they also won. Senior Nick Bertram figures it’s been long enough.
“Most seasons end with a loss and I think that’s a failure of a season. No one wants to end their season like that,” said Bertram, a senior left-hander. “We’ve talked and that’s our goal as a team. We want to be in Columbus the first week of June. The last state championship won at Centerville was 1928 so we’re hoping to bring back the title.”
Centerville opens the high school season, which officially started Saturday, as the top-ranked team in the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association pre-season poll. The Elks were the poll champs in 2012, but were upset by Beavercreek 3-1 in the sectional final.
With that memory still fresh, the Elks attacked the off-season workouts a little harder this winter. A week-long trip to Florida — the Elks left Saturday at midnight — could also give the team a boost this season. When Centerville scrimmaged Thursday night it was just the third time this spring they’ve able to get on a field because of the cold, wet weather.
The Elks return one of the top pitching staffs in the Greater Western Ohio Conference, led by Bertram (6-1, 0.88 ERA, 58 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched) and fellow senior Brian Mroz (4-0, 0.55 ERA, 46 K/38.1 IP). Senior Derek Hendrixson will also see time on the mound.
Seniors Jake Holland (.384 average, 24 RBI), Sean Murphy (.373, 16 RBI) and Bertram (.354, 24 RBI) pace the offense.
“We have a lot of good pitchers, a lot of kids who can throw if we get in trouble,” Bertram said. “The defense is going to be tremendous and behind the plate we have an awesome catcher (with Murphy). Offensively we’re going to be strong, too. … We have so much confidence on everyone on the team. It doesn’t matter whose on the mound or at the plate. Everyone wants to make the play.”
That starts today for Centerville, which opened with a doubleheader against Middletown. It’s a first step toward the goal of state and putting that sectional loss behind them.
“My thing was if you’re going to get somewhere you’ve never been before, you have to do the things you’ve never done before,” Centerville coach Terry Dickten said. “That’s been our motto all winter.”
Zach Beckner, sr., Lebanon: Kent State-bound shortstop led Warriors in average (.438), hits (35), runs (28), homers 94), RBI (25) and stolen bases (13), extra-base hits (11). Good hands and fluid on defense.
Nick Bertram, sr., Centerville: Miami recruit went 6-1 with 0.88 ERA, 42 strikeouts; hit .354 with 24 RBI, 18 runs for Elks team expecting to make deep D-I run.
Ty Black, sr., Waynesville: Standout shortstop hit .476 for Spartans; taking talents to Ohio University.
Tony Evans, sr., Tecumseh: Infielder is threat to win CBC triple crown after leading Arrows in average (.512), RBI (29), doubles (9), runs (33) and stolen bases (11).
Sean Kennedy, sr., Springboro: Versatile infielder hit .370 for Panthers with team-leading 30 runs and four homers; added six doubles and 19 RBI. Ball State recruit.
Travis Lakins, sr., Franklin: The SWBL Southwestern Division player of the year and Ohio State recruit used high 80s fastball and strong breaking ball for 10-3 record, 1.35 ERA and 100 strikeouts; hit .411 with 15 doubles.
Carter Langdon, sr., Tippecanoe: Tied for CBC lead in wins (9-1), had 1.08 ERA with 61 strikeouts and five shutouts; hit .368 with 27 RBI and nine doubles.
Doug Lowe, jr., Triad: Lefty led Cardinals on the mound with 9-2 record, 0.87 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 72 innings.
Connor McVey, sr., Mason: Shortstop and Cincinnati recruit was named GMC player of the year after hitting .393 with 16 RBI, 27 runs scored, six doubles and 13 stolen bases for Comets.
Adam Niemeyer, sr., Minster: MAC player of the year and Ohio State recruit went 5-0 with 0.00 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 45 innings for two-time state champ Wildcats; hit .438 with 27 RBI.
Austin Rieman, sr., Badin: GCL Central player of the year led league in RBI (32) and led Rams in doubles (14), triples (2) and stolen bases (19); also hit .446.
Tom Stoffel, sr., Northmont: GWOC Central player of the year had league-leading 39 RBI; hit .402 with 36 runs, eight doubles, three triples and four home runs. Logged three saves with 2.53 ERA; struck out 35 in 19.1 innings. Virginia Tech recruit.
Jonathan Stone, sr., Middletown: Injury derailed promising season for catcher that included .344 average, 10 RBI, three homers in 12 games.
Alec Turner, jr., Carlisle: Third baseman hit .487 with 58 RBI, 17 doubles, six homers and 38 runs scored for Indians.
Andrew Zellner, sr., Valley View: Fastball that hits in high 80s and hard breaking ball has him heading to Cincinnati; hit .426 with 12 RBI and 17 stolen bases for Spartans.
Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association pre-season poll:
Division 1: 1. Centerville, 2. Lebanon, 3. Northmont, 4. Springboro, 5. Butler
Division 2: 1. Tippecanoe, 2. Bellefontaine, 3. Valley View, 4. Alter, 5. Carroll
Division 3: 1. Triad, 2. Fenwick, 3. Waynesville, 4. Versailles, 5. Miami East
Division 4: 1. Fort Loramie, 2. Lehman Catholic, 3. Southeastern, 4. Covington, 5. Troy Christian