Amelia Defenders sweep knothole tournament titles

By Garth Shanklin - Sports Editor
The Amelia Defenders pose with the championship trophy earned after defeating the NKY Shockers in the city tournament earlier this summer. -

The Amelia Defenders recently pulled off a nifty tournament title sweep this summer.

Thanks to a 14-1 win over Williamsburg in the Clermont County Knothole Baseball tournament in Milford on July 9, the Defenders finished the season with a pair of tournament titles, adding that trophy to a win in the city tournament earlier in the year.

In the city tournament, the Defenders defeated the District 5 Eagles and the District 5 Storm to advance to the quarterfinals. They then picked up a win over ST. Bernard and another win over the Eagles to advance to the championship game, where they earned the title with a victory over the NKY Shockers.

The Defenders continued winning in the county tournament. The team defeated the Milford Firehawks and Williamsburg Wildcats to advance to the finals. Williamsburg knocked off the Milford Blue Devils in the consolation bracket to earn a rematch, which the Defenders won to earn the title.

Head coach Bill Rapp said pitching was one of the keys for the team this summer.

“Our pitching was very deep this year,” Rapp said. “We had four pitchers, and we could put any one of them out at any time.”

In addition, Rapp added the team’s training facility aided greatly in their play.

“Our indoor training facility and batting cage helped sharpen our skills both at the plate and in the field,“ Rapp said. “Offensively, we run ruled both of our opponents in the championship city and county games. We also turned two traditional double plays in the county championship game, which you don’t see at this age very often.”

The Defenders’ offense also was important, as evidenced by the two run-rule victories. The city tournament in particular provided a bit of a different challenge for the team, as the championship format switches to a best-of-three series.

“You make it to the city and it’s two out of three,” Rapp said. “Will Rapp led the team in on-base percentage and batting average, and he was five-for-six.”

Rapp also noted the team’s growth throughout the season.

“It was a heck of a run,” Rapp said. “These boys just excelled and improved. We had a good squad.”

Rapp finished by saying how proud he was of the team for their play on the field this past season, and added that he hoped they would eventually realize just how important the two championship victories are.

“I couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments,” Rapp said. “I think the boys may not realize what they accomplished, but over the next 30-40 years they’ll come to appreciate these championships even more.”

Two other Clermont County teams can accomplish the sweep with wins in the knothole baseball tournament. The Milford Scorpions won the Class B Sr. city tournament over Avondale, and the Goshen Gators won the Class A title over the Amelia Mustangs. The county tournament in both of those classes is still ongoing.

As for the Defenders, they will take their game to the Southwest Ohio League next season. The team is holding tryouts on July 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and July 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Batavia Township Park and Sports Complex.

Any 2019 U13 players are welcome to attend, according to Rapp.

The Amelia Defenders pose with the championship trophy earned after defeating the NKY Shockers in the city tournament earlier this summer.
https://www.clermontsun.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Defenders.jpgThe Amelia Defenders pose with the championship trophy earned after defeating the NKY Shockers in the city tournament earlier this summer.

By Garth Shanklin

Sports Editor

Reach Garth Shanklin via email at gshanklin@clermontsun.com or by phone at 513-732-2511 ext. 112.

Reach Garth Shanklin via email at gshanklin@clermontsun.com or by phone at 513-732-2511 ext. 112.