During their respective Suburban Lakes League pitching careers former Genoa stalwart Chris Bassitt (2007) and former Woodmore sensation Charles Wooten (2007) dueled against each other just twice on the prep mound.
Bassitt and his former Comet comrades came out on top in both contests, once when pitted against each other as starters.
“Oh, we won both games,” said Bassitt with undeniable pride for his alma mater. The Comets went 48-6 overall during his varsity career.
The former SLL adversaries had no problem recalling each other during those high school days.
“He was one of the best in the league,” Bassitt said of Wooten. “It was always a great game between me and him. Both teams had the utmost respect for each other. You always knew it was going to be a close game.”
“Genoa always competed against us, and Chris was a great pitcher,” Wooten praised. “He never gave in to any hitters. It was always a battle.”
Perhaps Wooten will have an opportunity to get a slight measure of revenge- in the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference that is- when his Bowling Green Falcons host Bassitt’s Akron University Zips for a three-game series May 14-16 at BG’s Steller Field.
“It would definitely be great to beat him,” Wooten admitted. “Back in high school he was pretty much my only loss. It would be great to get that dagger out of my back.”
It’s been two years since the two squared off as members of opposing teams. Last summer they put down the proverbial gloves of combat to instead be teammates on the summer collegiate-ball Ohio Monarchs.
Now their paths cross again, opponents once more, but still progressing in an unwavering unison.
“It would be really cool,” said Bassitt. “Not many players ever get a chance to face each other in college after facing each other in high school.”
Each are former all-SLL First Team starting pitchers, but are now equally relocated to relief roles on their respective MAC collegiate teams.
Like in those duels of SLL lore, Bassitt has the better statistical end of the two, to date, in 2009.
Through April 22, Bassitt is tied for the Zips’ save lead with three, and also tops the Akron staff with a 2.92 ERA in 17 appearances over 24.2 innings.
“It’s exciting, but definitely much harder than pitching in high school,” said Bassitt, who was red-shirted with an injury in 2008. “In high school all I had to do was throw fastballs, but in college you have to understand strategy and know how to pitch to each batter.
“I didn’t really expect to contribute at this level this quickly.”
While Wooten currently boasts a 3-2 mark over 15 appearances and 26 innings for the Falcons, and is second on BG in saves with a pair, he has been struggling with a 10.04 ERA, lowest on the staff. He said that is merely an aberration.
“I just recently got my slider back, and my fastball has more pop lately,” Wooten explained about his progress as a sophomore. “I’m satisfied, but I know I can still get much better, and figure out how to get to the next level.”
That Bassitt and Wooten are even making the contributions they are in a Division I conference is something each agrees reflects on the quality of SLL baseball.
“I think it just proves that the SLL is one of the best baseball conferences in Northwest Ohio,” Bassitt stated.
“It says a lot about the SLL. It has a lot of good players come out,” said Wooten.
The series will end the regular season for both programs while wrapping up the 2009 MAC slate. Both in the East Division, BGSU is currently fourth at 8-6 (18-16 overall), and Akron is struggling overall at 12-26 but fifth in the division right behind the Falcons at 6-7.
Both Bassitt and Wooten still believe their teams can make waves in the postseason.
“We want to win a championship, and that’s what we’re going for this year,” Bassitt said.
“I think we have a really good chance in the MAC tourney,” Wooten offered. “We just battled (perennial MAC titans) Kent State real well and we beat Michigan. We feel like we can compete with anybody.
“We’ve just got to find the right medium and put it all together.”
By the time the Akron-BG series rolls around, maybe both will see their teams peaking. Maybe not.
One thing is certain. Two of the best hurlers to ever fling the rawhide in the SLL will be reunited yet again on their similar paths- and perhaps in a direct, competitive fire, at least once more on the flatlands of Northwest Ohio, just miles away from where high school diamond memories still remain fresh in the communities from which they ascended.
Pitch versus pitch.
Comet versus Wildcat.
Zip versus Falcon.