High School baseball: CBC champion Kenton Ridge ready to make postseason splash

Cutline: Kenton Ridge High School senior Evan Houseman pitches during their scrimmage game against Oakwood on Monday, March 22 at Tom Randall Field in Springfield. Michael cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Cutline: Kenton Ridge High School senior Evan Houseman pitches during their scrimmage game against Oakwood on Monday, March 22 at Tom Randall Field in Springfield. Michael cooper/CONTRIBUTED

SPRINGFIELD — The Kenton Ridge High School baseball team accomplished its first goal — winning its fifth Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title in six seasons.

“We’ve put a nice little run together and been able to sustain it,” said Cougars coach Aaron Shaffer. “It’s been nice. The guys buy in, see the success and they want to keep it going. They put pressure on themselves to keep it going.”

Now, the Cougars, who ranked 13th in this week’s Division II state coaches poll, are setting their sights on the postseason.

Kenton Ridge (18-6) earned the No. 1 seed in the D-II, Dayton 3 sectional draw last weekend. The Cougars earned a bye and will play the winner of fourth-seeded Bellefontaine and No. 6 Northwestern (4-18) on Thursday, May 20. The Warriors will travel to Bellefontaine on Tuesday, May 18.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 3 Graham and No. 5 Urbana will play on May 18 with the winner traveling to D-II fifth-ranked Tippecanoe on May 20.

The district semifinal is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, at Tecumseh High School.

After a 6-1 loss on Shawnee on April 26, the Cougars have won seven of their last eight games — a streak that included six complete games and five straight shutouts by their pitching staff.

“The defense and pitching just came together,” Shaffer said. “We’ve been swinging the bats really well all season. We finally turned the corner. Our pitchers have been more consistent.”

The Cougars beat Tippecanoe 9-7 in a non-conference game on Saturday afternoon. The Red Devils were then ranked No. 1 in the state.

Kenton Ridge has advanced to the district finals each of the last three seasons. In 2019, the Cougars fell to Hamilton Ross 1-0.

“The idea is always — and we say it every year — to be playing your best baseball by the end of the year and that’s where we’re at,” Shaffer said. “It’s been fun to be a part of. The guys are confident. We feel like we can play with anybody.”

The championship is even more special for the senior class after missing the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaffer said.

“It was tough on everybody when you didn’t play last year,” Shaffer said. “Those guys missed their junior year but they’ve stepped right in and been leaders from the start. That’s kind of what it takes. We’re happy for the guys. We had a really good team last year and l felt like they missed out on that. It’s great to see them have the success this year that they did. The seniors can go out champions.”

Division I

Springfield (10-10) is the No. 11 seed in the D-I Dayton 3 district and will host No. 15 Xenia at 5 p.m. on May 18. The winner will travel to second-seeded and D-I fourth-ranked Vandalia Butler at 5 p.m., May 20. The Wildcats have won six of their last seven games.

The other side of the bracket includes No. 6 Miamisburg, No. 8 Sidney and No. 14 Fairborn. The Dayton 3 district semifinal game is scheduled for 5 p.m., May 25, at Beavercreek High School.

Tecumseh (15-8) earned the No. 9 seed and will host No. 13 Northmont at 5 p.m. May 18. The winner will play the winner of No. 19 Belmont and No. 4 Centerville.

The other side of the bracket includes top-seeded Beavercreek. The district semifinal is scheduled for May 25 at Butler High School.

Division III

Northeastern (16-8) earned the No. 3 seed in the D-III Dayton district and will host the winner of No. 14 Bethel and No. 16 Dixie at 5 p.m. May 19.

No. 6 Shawnee (14-8) will host the winner of No. 11 Greeneview and No. 12 Preble Shawnee at 5 p.m. May 19.

The winners of those games will meet in a district semifinal game at 5 p.m. May 24 at Fairborn High School.

No. 2 seed Mechanicsburg (25-0) will host the winner of No. 16 National Trail and No. 18 West Liberty-Salem (9-12) at 5 p.m. on May 19. With a victory, the Indians would play the winner of No. 7 Arcanum and No. 9 Anna at 5 p.m. May 24 at Eaton High School.

No. 17 Greenon (8-14) travels to No. 15 Covington at 5 p.m. May 19. The winner will likely face top-seeded and D-III top-ranked Benjamin Logan at 5 p.m. May 24 at Tecumseh.

Division IV

No. 7 Southeastern (5-9) will host No. 9 Legacy Christian at 5 p.m., May 17, and the winner will travel to No. 4 Twin Valley South at 5 p.m., May 19.

No. 10 Emmanuel Christian (3-16) will host No. 11 Catholic Central (6-11) at 5 p.m., May 17, and the winner will travel to No. 4 Troy Christian at 5 p.m., May 19.

The winner of those games will play in a district semifinal game at 5 p.m., May 24, at Troy Market Street Field.

No. 6 Cedarville (13-11) will host No. 12 Yellow Springs (1-19) at 5 p.m., May 17. The winner will travel to No. 3 Tri-Village at 5 p.m., May 19. The district semifinal will be held at 5 p.m., May 24, at Troy Duke Park Legion Field.

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