Posted Online: April 07, 2013, 8:23 pm
Spartans' continued diamond resurgence has them battling for LTC baseball lead
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By Terry Duckett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year's Ridgewood baseball team was among the surprises of the Lincoln Trail Conference, winning 23 games and contending for the LTC pennant, ultimately taking third in a tight race.
This year, the Spartans appear to have taken the next step in their diamond resurgence with nine wins in 11 games to open the 2013 prep campaign, including a 6-0 start to league play that once again has Seth Spivey's club tied for the LTC lead in what should be another tight race.
"It's exciting for them, knowing there's good competition out there,'' said Spivey, in his eighth year at the helm of the AlWood-Cambridge and (since 2010) Ridgewood co-op programs. "They've had since the end of 2012 to prepare themselves for this, and we have a lot of experience back.''
The junior trio of pitcher/infielders Noah Shannon and Andrew Steider and catcher Blayne Street all were key contributors last year.Sophomores Nate Humphrey and Ridge Greenman also swell Ridgewood's pitching ranks when not playing the outfield and infield, respectively.
"That's one thing for us,'' said Spivey. "Our pitching staff is fairly deep. We've got a variety of guys we can count on and so many guys who can do the job that we feel we don't have to rush certain guys out there on short rest. Our main concern (going in) was how we were going to score runs.''
So far, offense has not been in short supply for the Spartans, who returned two of their top hitters in Ragan and senior outfielder/pitcher Dusty Werner. Ridgewood scored 23 runs in Saturday's doubleheader sweep of Stark County, with Ragan and junior Andrew Steider combining for a five-inning no-hitter in the nightcap.
Golden Eagles also perched at the top:Ridgewood isn't alone atop the LTC standings, as Mercer County (7-1) also stands at 6-0 after sweeping ROWVA on Saturday behind a big day at the plate from junior shortstop Tyson Nylin, who had five hits and seven RBIs in the sweep.
The Golden Eagles and the Spartans sit a full game ahead of Annawan-Wethersfield (6-1), which is also spotless in conference play with a 4-0 ledger.
Future dates that could determine the ultimate LTC champion are April. 16 and 18, when Ridgewood takes on A-W and Galva faces Mercer County; and Saturday, April 27, when the Titans welcome the Golden Eagles to Annawan's Howes Park for a twinbill and the Spartans trek to Galva to play two with the Wildcats.
Sherrard grabs early WCC North lead; TRAC-9 getting started: So far, the Sherrard Tigers have taken the early advantage in the West Central Conference's North Division. With the bulk of the league having played only one or two games, the Tigers (6-3) have already have in two of their WCC North doubleheaders.
The Three Rivers Conference is just getting its league schedule up and running after being delayed by the combination of weather and field conditions.Winners in their TRAC-9 openers included Erie-Prophetstown, Fulton and Morrison.Both E-P and Morrison sit at 2-0 in league play,