Despite no seniors, Segura’s Rangers set goals high

J. Patrick Eaken

After serving as head baseball coach at Waite for the past four years, John Segura returned to Northwood, where he was an assistant for six years (2008-13) and head coach in 2014.
        At Northwood, his team won Toledo Area Athletic Conference championships in 2010 and 2011 and was district champions in 2013. At Waite, he was Toledo City League Coach of the Year in 2016.
        Last year’s Northwood team was 9-14, but he has six letter winners returning to help him improve on that. Nearly halfway through the season, the Rangers are 6-8 and 2-3 in the TAAC.
        “Coming into this season, my coaching staff and I realized that we had an athletic but young group of ballplayers to work with,” Segura said. 
        “Every game we've played has been an opportunity to mature and understand the game better and we've done a great job of doing that. We have high expectations for our guys and this program not only for the rest of the season but for seasons to come.”
        Segura says his team’s goals are always to win a league championship, and they are still striving for that end result.
        “Northwood will battle for the TAAC title. We set our goals as high as we can and work hard to achieve them,” Segura said.
        “The TAAC is and always has been a very tough small school conference. We always have a team in the regional finals. I expect this season to be no different. That’s what I signed up for,” Segura continued.
        “We have the talent to play at a high level. Our talent will show as well as our inexperience. With no seniors and a new coaching staff, this team will get better as the year goes on. Our key to success will be patience and buying into this process.”
        Top returning letter winners include four juniors in utility player Cayden Schober, shortstop/pitcher/outfielder Kaleb Berry, outfielder/designated hitter/pitcher Tyler Hughes, pitcher/designated hitter Trevor Knisely and junior cather/outfielder/third baseman Dalton Dempsey.
        “Cayden Schober is a disciplined hitter who will wait on a good pitch to hit,” Segura said.
        Schober batted. 281 with 14 stolen bases and Hughes batted .267 last year, but this year he is at .351 with 10 runs, a triple and 10 stolen bases. Dempsey is batting .316 with nine runs and six SB.
        Top sophomores returning include first baseman/pitcher/outfielder A.J. Rable, shortstop/pitcher/second baseman Kalib Ruch and outfielder/pitcher Cameron Noel.
        Rable batted .355 with 16 RBIs last year as a freshman and this year is hitting .333 with four extra base hits, 10 RBIs, 13 runs, and 11 SB.
        Noel is hitting .294 with eight runs, three extra base hits and nine SB, and sophomore Nolan Knisely is batting .323 with eight RBIs and eight runs.
        “A.J. Rable has good hand eye coordination with power,” Segura said.
        On the mound, Segura has a deep rotation and bullpen, but they are young. Berry is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA and eight strikeouts in 14 innings.
        “Kaleb Berry is our No. 1 right now. He keeps the ball around the strike zone and pitches to contact,” Segura said. “Cameron Noel throws a hard fast ball and has a good curve to go with it. The slider will be ready soon. Trevor Knisely, (sophomores) Nolan Knisely and Kalib Ruch will all see varsity starts. Sophomore Espen Singlar is our crafty lefty who has pitched in three of our first four games already this year — primarily in a clean-up role.”
        Trevor Knisely has one win with a 0.66 ERA and five strikeouts in 10.2 innings, Nolan Knisely is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 11 innings, Ruch is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings, Singlar has no decisions with a 2.28 ERA, 16 strikeouts, a 1.000 save percentage in 15.1 innings, and freshman Eli O’Connor is 1-0 with a 3.82 ERA and seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
        There are other aspects of the game that Segura is witnessing improvement.
        “Our defense is a work in progress,” Segura said. “Cayden Schober has done a great job catching, playing both second base and outfield. He is fast, athletic and reads the ball well.
        “Nolan Knisely has done a great job at third in the first four games with five put-outs in five chances. Cameron Noel plays a tough center (field) and Rable is learning first and has done a great job there.
        “Our middle infield of Berry and Ruch are getting better and better every game. Junior Dalton Demspsey will see time at catcher, outfield and third base. Tyler Hughes will be in left field when not DHing. In right field we will platoon freshman Joshua Laesch and junior Ethan Swartz. Sophomore Jonah Robles will do some of our varsity catching also.”
        Despite being young, Segura is seeing his team work hard to improve themselves, and that includes in the offseason.
        “From the summer when I took over till now, Nolan Knisely has worked his tail off and has become a real good fielder. Espen Singlar has been a huge surprise on the mound with four innings pitched and five strikeouts, despite no varsity innings last year. Hughes is hitting the ball real solid.”
        Segura says there is another element which he believes will lead the program to success.
        “We have a very experienced coaching staff that has worked really hard with these young men,” Segura said. “The players have given us 100 percent up to this point and I don’t see that changing. I believe that this team’s work ethic will pay off. The bonus is, we bring everybody back next year.”


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