By Chris Chaney
The New Richmond and Batavia baseball teams not only took home league championships in the Southern Buckeye Conference during their respective 2014 campaigns, but also swept the postseason individual awards as two senior leaders and their coaches took home hardware at the annual SBC Spring Sports Awards Banquet at Hamersville School on May 27.
New Richmond senior catcher Levi Simpson and Batavia senior pitcher Kyle Schmitgen were named the Player of the Year in their respective divisions, Simpson in the American and Schmitgen in the National.
Lions head coach Brian Benzinger took home the American Coach of the Year honors and Bulldogs’ head man Geoff Carter was named the National Coach of the Year.
For Benzinger, the accolade came on the heels of the coach winning his 300th career game.
“Coaching high school sports, hopefully you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the kids,” Benzinger said. “When I was getting close to 300, it was clear to me that I wanted my 300th win to come this year with these guys.
“It’s an achievement for them, too, because it took 23 wins to get there and to have 25 wins, that’s a pretty good high school season.”
As for Simpson, he hit .441 with a .512 on-base percentage. Getting to the plate 102 times, among the most in the area, he was also top-5 in RBI with 37. He scored 30 runs himself, which becomes easier when he can get in scoring position so consistently. Simpson hit 15 doubles to accomplish that feat and when he did only manage a single, he stole 24 bases.
Similarly, Schmitgen for Batavia was a heady player who put himself in position to score a lot of runs. The senior pitcher and short stop hit .550 and scored 33 runs. Of his 33 hits on the season, more than a third of them were for extra bases and when they weren’t, he put himself in scoring position by stealing 18 bases.
“I’ve never seen a base runner at the high school level do so many little things and grab every base,” Carter said. “He’ll steal third, time pitchers home — he’s the smartest player, easily, that I think I’ve been around. He gets a single and it’s like a triple. He’ll steal second and third before I’m done giving the signs. I’ll look over and he’ll be standing next to me (on third base).”
Both Simpson and Schmitgen were joined by four other teammates on the First Team in their divisions.
In the American, Lion seniors Chris Lawrence, Josh Heiden and Jake Hauke and junior Daman Abner were First Team selections.
They were joined by Mike Diana and Jacob Helton of Amelia, Paul Collins, Kyle Decker, Isaac Hart and Jesse Peters of Goshen, Jared Peters of Norwood and Eli Crall, Trevor Lind, Nick Osborne and Devyn Wood of Western Brown.
In the National, Schmitgen’s teammates Dylan Glover, Austin Sammons, Collin Sammons and Ty Wolfe were First Team picks.
Also earning First Team honors in the National were Clermont Northeastern’s Trey Amann and Nick Tipton, Felicity-Franklin’s Trenden Young, Williamsburg’s Austin Horn, Andrew Smith and Zack Ward, Blanchester’s Brady Cain, Kyle Campbell, Elijah Elliott, Taylor Greene and Austin Rabon and Georgetown’s Clinton McElroy.
Second Teamers in the American were Amelia’s Gary Sunday, Bethel-Tate’s Blake Norris, Goshen’s John Ausec and Jordan Hunter, New Richmond’s Cole Goodnow and Dalton Henderson, Norwood’s Tre Bosch and Western Brown’s Josh Boothby and Tim Ward.
The National Division Second Team consisted of Batavia’s Conner Gabury and Kyle Grant, Blanchester’s Derek Barger and Tyler Muncy, CNE’s Brandon Mullins, Felicity’s Jesse Miles, Georgetown’s Christian Linville and Williamsburg’s Roger Helton and Austin Whisman.
For complete season results, standings and All-Star teams, log on the SBC website at sbaac.net.