Eastwood undefeated, ranked No. 1 in Division III

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Eastwood baseball – a program with a proud, decorated history, could be on the verge of reaching new heights.
Eastwood, which finds itself 22-0 and 12-0 in the Northern Buckeye Conference – good enough to win the league championship – is ranked No. 1 in Division III and is looking to accomplish great things in the tournament after finishing two games short of the state final four last season.
A combination of great pitching and hitting — plus speed on the base paths — has the Eagles on top. But it’s the team’s psyche that has them focused.
“Our team has been so successful because of how close our group is. We have a simple approach and take it ‘one day at a time,’” said Eastwood coach Kevin Leady, now in his 12th season coaching at his alma mater. “We focus more on the process than the outcome, (because) we believe if we focus on getting better on a daily basis, the rest will take care of itself.”
The Eagles have won 15 league titles and seven district championships, including five NBC titles and four district championships under Leady.
Shortstop Case Boos, one of 10 seniors, leads the way with a .484 batting average, 15 RBIs, 47 runs and 35 stolen bases, and two of his teammates — P/LF Jackson Bauer and P/3B Andrew Badenhop — are also hitting over .400. Bauer is hitting .460 with 24 RBIs, 28 runs and 23 stolen bases and Badenhop is hitting .412 with 24 RBIs, 24 runs and 10 stolen bases. The two other hitters near the top of the batting order are 1B Jordan Pickerel (.397, 11 RBIs, 24 runs, 11 SB) and CF Tristan Schuerman (.377, 31 RBIs, 30 runs, 22 SB).
Boos leads off with Schuerman, Badenhop, Pickerel and Bauer following him.
“The top of our order has done an excellent job of creating for the rest of our team. These five make it all go,” said Leady. “Boos and Schuerman are the catalysts of the (batting order), and when they get on, they create great opportunities for the rest of our lineup.”
The rest of the lineup includes 2B Colton Woodward, catcher Xander Gruelich, RF Kadyn Donnell and DH Isaac Reynolds.
On the mound, Badenhop is 7-0 with a 1.47 ERA, Donnell is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA, Ethan Rapp is 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA and Jarod Bonfiglio is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA.
Boos, known to many for his time playing quarterback for the football team and point guard for the basketball team, talked about what makes the baseball team so special.
“This team cares. This might be one of the hardest-working teams I’ve ever been on throughout my high school career. It may sound a bit cliché, but we show up and work every single day,” he said. “We know what we’re capable of, so our chemistry in our goals really makes us work well together. Those are my brothers.”
Last season, the Eagles lost, 5-1, to Ottawa Hills in the regional semifinals, for just the second loss of the season. The run to the district title was filled with close calls, so don’t expect this year to be any easier.
“It motivates us a ton. Almost all of us were a part of that ending and it was very bitter. We remember how we felt; we remember what happened, and we’re determined,” Boos said. “We did not go out last year playing our best baseball; we beat ourselves, and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. We’re going out playing our best ball.”
Boos is set to continue his football career at Northwood University, a Division II college, in Michigan. Rapp and Bauer will play baseball at Owens Community College.
“The others around me drive me, to be completely honest,” said Boos, an all-Ohio selection in football. “I know what we are capable of, and I want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure we get there. I’ve been trying to mentor a few of the younger kids, and they may look up to me, so I need to be able to understand how to handle things and get better every day with my teammates.”
Eastwood, seeded first in the Elida District, plays (11) Harrod Allen East or (12) Spencerville on Friday. If the Eagles win, they’ll likely face (3) Haviland Wayne Trace on May 25 in the district semifinals in Elida.


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