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South Central keeps going after district final win

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:44 PM

GREENWICH - South Central turned back Crestline to win the Division IV North Robinson district May 18, avenging a loss to the Bulldogs at the same spot in 2006.

But the Trojans haven't stopped from that point and now find themselves in the state tournament for the third time in school history.

"The kids wanted to get back to the district game,'' South Central coach Darren Hunt said. "They've played on emotion and they've played with heart. They're riding the wave right now.''

South Central, 22-7, is scheduled to play Newark Catholic, 24-9, at 4 p.m. Thursday in the first of two state semifinals at Cooper Stadium in Columbus.

The second game has Fort Loramie going against Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic.

The state final is at 1 p.m. Saturday, also at Cooper Stadium.

The Green Wave are seeking their fifth state championship in six years and seventh since 1988. They edged Tipp City Bethel 3-2 last season for the title.

"They bring a lot of tradition,'' Hunt said. "We have to find a way to settle the kids down early in the game."

Newark Catholic topped Danville 12-2, Berne Union 14-4 and Worthington Christian 10-7 to win the Pickerington district. Once in the regional, the Green Wave notched wins over Racine Southern 8-6 and Berlin-Hiland 9-8 for the regional crown.

The Green Wave led by five runs, Hiland charged ahead with a five-run sixth inning and NC scored single runs in each of the last two innings to win.

Berlin-Hiland swept a doubleheader from New London, 11-2 and 12-2, in the regular season April 14.

"There's no sense worrying about Newark Catholic,'' Hunt said. "If we play the way we're capable of playing, then let the chips fall where they may.''

The Trojans reached the state semis in 1972 and were state runner-up in 1995.

"There are a lot of good teams in the area,'' Hunt said. "We feel fortunate in the history of the school to have been to state three times.''

South Central has found a way to win in this postseason.

The Trojans smacked Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic 13-3 and Wynford 12-3 in their first two games, but has found the road much tougher.

South Central beat Crestline 7-6 on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh, Kinsman Badger 7-6 with a run in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at 6-6 and one more in the ninth for the win and Cuyahoga Heights 7-5 with a four-run fourth and three-run sixth.

"We've done some things we haven't seen all year, like hitting with two outs, hitting late in the count and we've had some guys step up defensively,'' Hunt said. "Catcher Jordan Smith has shot down the running game. The pitching staff has been solid all year. We're concentrating on the mental game and playing with enthusiasm.

"We've definitely put up some crooked numbers. We've needed some luck, but you also need to create some of your luck."

Hunt is receiving production on different fronts.

Senior shortstop Zac Osborn leads the team in runs scored with 49, home runs (seven), walks (37), stolen bases (55), RBI (24), slugging percentage (.676) and on-base percentage (.643). The stolen-base mark is a school record.

"It's nice to have had a couple of guys step up,'' Osborn said.

Senior pitcher RJ Ringer has a team-leading nine wins, including the last three in the tournament. He is 18-4 over the last two seasons. Junior Tom Parcher is batting .383, which tops the Trojans. He also has a team-leading eight doubles and 31 hits.

"It's been amazing for our senior year,'' Ringer said. "We have high expectations."

South Central has plenty of experience with the coaching staff as Hunt (Findlay) assistant coaches Doug Dendinger (Ohio State), Ty Dendinger (Mt. Vernon Nazarene) and Jeremy Anderson (Akron/Lakeland Community College) all played college ball.

"I have three other coaches that do an exceptional job of getting the team prepared,'' Hunt said. "The community has really supported this team in the tournament."

Osborn said the experience has been invaluable.

"They've been there,'' he said. "They know how to make us feel.''

But Hunt, for one, isn't satisfied with just reaching the state tournament.

"It's good to get to this point, but let's try to win the state championship,'' he said. "One of the reasons I played and coach is to win a state championship.

"We have eight seniors, seven that play a lot. It's kind of an intangible we try to use to our advantage. We're not going to quit. I tell the kids to play every play like it's your last. We definitely have some kids that love to compete and love baseball. We still have to limit walks, make the routine plays and hit with guys in scoring position.''

Likewise, Ringer has unfinished business.

"Once you get in the regional, anybody can win at anytime,'' he said. "We want to go as far as we can. Everybody is going to play ball.''

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