Kenton Ridge High School’s baseball tradition reads like a Who’s Who in Clark County: Dave Burba, Rick White, Dustin Hermanson, Adam Eaton and Derek Toadvine to name a few.
Whose next? How about Mitchell Schneider.
The Kenton Ridge junior added to the Cougars’ accolades as Clark County’s player of the year, determined by a vote of county coaches. Schneider was a triple threat for KR with an uncommon combination of hitting, pitching and defense.
“You don’t see a lot of those guys anymore,” Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer said. “Sometimes they can be a No. 1 (pitcher) and be your 3-hole hitter. I think him being able to do that put him over the top. … He’s definitely one of those guys that has a chance to play at the (college) level. Not a lot of guys get to do that.”
Offensively, Schneider led KR with a .375 batting average and 24 runs batted in. Defensively, Schneider flashed a stellar glove up the middle splitting time at second and shortstop. On the mound, Schneider was the staff ace with 42.1 innings pitched. He went 4-1 with a save, 2.32 earned-run average and 34 strikeouts.
“Being a Kenton Ridge grad myself, it’s kind of nice seeing that tradition continue,” said Northeastern coach Chad Fyffe, who was voted coach of the year after leading the Jets to their first league title in 30 years. “We weren’t giving him much to hit, I can tell you that. He’s a special ball player when you think what he can do in the field, what he can do on the mound and what he can do at the plate.”
What impresses Kenton Ridge coach Aaron Shaffer about Schneider is his ability to place the ball all over the field.
His location with his pitches off the mound is equally as impressive.
“He’s not going overpower you with his fastball,” Shaffer said. “He mixes up his pitches, he’s got a nice curve ball, a change-up he throws. In high school, if you can mix up speeds and hit your spots, you’re going to be successful. He throws strikes.”
Schneider’s most memorable outing came in a no-hitter against Benjamin Logan in the Division II sectional tournament. Schneider even drove in the game’s only run in a 1-0 victory. Even more amazing about Schneider’s no-hitter — the first at KR since 1996 — is it came with no strikeouts. Every out was put in play and fielded flawlessly by the Cougars’ defense.
“Going into the last inning, I kind of realized it. Other than that, I didn’t really think about it,” Schneider said. “I didn’t have any strikeouts and I felt like there had to be a hit somewhere. It was pretty special. My teammates came running from the dugout. Then someone came up from behind me and grabbed me. … It was a heck of a team game there. We have a solid defense that’s pretty quick, a really good middle infield.”
With the high school season behind him, Schneider plans to relax with a little vacation time this summer. What’s vacation mean to him?
“Baseball is vacation,” Schneider said, adding he’ll be visiting Atlanta and Nashville among other stops with his Elite Ohio traveling team. He plays with the Elite until Aug. 1, then it’s football conditioning for the two-year starting quarterback.
The two-sport star plans to play baseball in college and said he’s getting attention from Xavier, Morehead State and Marietta among others. When he makes his choice, he’s well aware he’ll add another name to KR’s list of college-bound baseball players.
“You see it every time you step on (Kenton Ridge’s) field. You have the banners of the pro players on the fence, the recent one being Adam Eaton,” Schneider said. “It’s a special feeling. We’ve put a lot of players into college and the pros.
“I was honored (to be the player of the year). I know there are a lot of good players in the county.”