Asked if they ever get reminded that girls sports have accounted for 85 percent of Minster High School’s 27 state titles, senior Adam Niemeyer and junior Ethan Wolf instantly grinned.
“Our girls basketball coach (Nann Stechshulte) used to tease me all the time in junior high gym class about it,” Wolf said. “She always used to ask me ‘When is there going to be another black banner up there?’”
Said Niemeyer: “We’ve certainly caught flack.”
Nowadays the Wildcats field praise.
While Minster’s girls haven’t produced a state title since 2010, the baseball team is trying to win its third straight in Division IV. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the Ohio Prep Baseball Report JJHuddle.com and No. 2 in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association D-IV state poll.
“Good natured fun,” baseball coach Mike Wiss said of the state-title disparity. “I will tell you this – there’s a lot of pride in this town. We think highly of what we do here.”
Minster is no ordinary team.
Fueled by what Wiss calls “a special kind of kid,” the Wildcats feature multiple three-sport athletes that have raised recent community stock in boys sports. Minster has been to the D-VI football playoffs three years in a row (regional finalists twice) and won a D-IV district basketball title in 2011.
Then there’s baseball.
“During a game when our guys are in the field, there’s a lot of 6-foot-plus players out there that fill out a uniform pretty well,” Wiss said. “I don’t want to say that in my previous years of coaching here there weren’t athletes, because there were, but this group is extremely talented.”
“Last year in the state semifinals, when we took the field we walked past some Defiance Tinora guys and their jaws dropped,” Niemeyer said. “I don’t think they realized we were that big.”
Niemeyer and Wolf form an imposing battery.
The reigning Midwest Athletic Conference baseball player of the year and Minster’s all-time leading passer in football, Niemeyer (6-3, 190) will play baseball at Ohio State. He’s batting .552 with 14 runs and 10 RBI. On the mound he’s 2-0 with 17 Ks and one walk.
Last year Niemeyer had 76 strikeouts, nine walks and zero earned runs (0.00 ERA) in 45 innings before a sprained URL ligament in mid-May forced him to DH the final three and a half weeks. He reached base five times in two state tournament games and scored five runs.
Wolf (6-6, 232) might be Ohio’s biggest catcher. He’s definitely one of its top football prospects.
Batting .519 with 12 RBI and 10 runs, Wolf, arguably the state’s top 2014 tight end, committed to Tennessee last week. He had 20 offers including Nebraska, Michigan State and Arkansas.
Additional catalysts are seniors SS/P Devon Poeppelman (.452, 2-0, 10 Ks), 2B Andrew Knapke (.438) and CF Jay Eilerman (.400) and junior INF/P Brandon Hoying.
“There have been some tense situations in games (during our run) where maybe in previous years we didn’t get that hit or out we needed,” Wiss said. “These guys have delivered. They don’t get too tight too quick.”
Said Wolf: “Our confidence level is through the roof.”
A loss to Botkins – that Wolf said “set us straight” – is Minster’s lone blemish.
“We’ve had a lot of success here, but the last several years this group has made baseball more important in Minster,” Wiss said. “They’ve had a huge impact on all boys sports.
“When they think about what they’ve done here later in life, they’re going to have a lot to look back on.”
And up to.
Two black banners and counting.