To this day, there have only been three coaches in the history of Clay baseball, one of the all-time winningest programs in Ohio prep baseball history. Coach Karl Knerim is keeping the tradition alive.
In his second consecutive season at Waite, Coach Danny Clayton is continuing to work on building the program back to where it was when he left.
In total, Clayton has been at Waite nine years, leading Indians baseball to a 122-62 career record. In the previous eight years, his Waite teams have reached the Toledo City League final four a total of four times, and won one CL championship.
But he left to spend four years at Genoa, leading the Comets to a 73-33 record and two Suburban Lakes League championships, before coming back to rebuild at Waite again, where he teaches.
Clayton also coached at Northwood, where his teams went 40-16 and won a district championship.
Last year, Clayton’s first season back at Waite after his four-year hiatus to coach at Genoa, the Indians were 10-11, 4-6 in the CL. He expects this year’s Waite team to finish in the middle of the CL standings in what he calls “always very good” competition.
Coach Knierim remains only the third coach in over three-quarters of a century of baseball at Clay, and after 12 years his teams have gone 218-96. His commitment to Clay remains strong, even though he once coached at Cardinal Stritch, too (34-17).
Under Knerim, teams have won district championships in 1984 (Stritch) and at Clay in 1997, 2006, and 2007. Last year, Clay was 17-8 overall and 10-1 in the Toledo City League. Knierim has five returning lettermen this year.
Key players are senior Drew Kuns (P.1B), senior Kyle Romstadt (P/OF), senior Mike Toth (P/SS), senior Paul Zalar (SS), and senior Jonathon Unsohn (C/OF). Kuns and Toth were First Team All-City last year, while Romstadt was honorable mention.
This year’s team returns senior pitcher/shortstop Joe Imm, a Second Team All-City selection last year.
Other top returning players are seniors Isiah Segura and Jim Cosgrove, juniors Frank Cruz Paddila, Phillip Hatch, and Jordan Rios, and sophomore Nick Wagner. Clayton believes his top first year players are senior Alex Zapata, junior Luke Murphy and Kyle Gloria, and freshmen Dylan Clifton and Jason Tedrow.
Coach Clayton expects senior Alex Zapata, junior Chris Hartranft, sophomores Dakota Hunter, Nick Wagner, and Zack Morales to contribute as well.