Cardinals, Rangers seek to finish in upper division

J. Patrick Eaken

For Cardinal Stritch baseball coach Mike McGee, the past year has been one challenge after another. 

Not only did he have to deal with no 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was fighting cancer, too. Now, there is light at the end of the tunnel for McGee, and he credits his baseball players for staying by his side.

“My team rallied around me on my darkest days. This team means the world to me,” McGee said.

In four years at Stritch, McGee’s teams have gone 32-32, but he also coached at Waite one season (12-12), DeVilbiss one season (12-6), and in four years of coaching Clay summer baseball, his teams went 32-10 and qualified for a national youth World Series tournament.

However, in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference where everything seems to go through Ottawa Hills under veteran coach Chris Hardman, there is a new man at the helm — Eastwood grad and former Bowling Green State University football coach Clay Rolf takes the helm at Northwood.

For Stritch, McGee and assistant coach Ryan Adams believe their team can finish in the league’s top three because of “chemistry between teammates and experience playing together,” McGee says. The Cardinals opened the season winning one of four games, but two of those losses were in extra innings.

“It will be very competitive because the top four teams have the ability to beat anyone in the league,” McGee said. “We have chemistry, senior leadership, and offensive power. Most of my players have played together for four-plus years and some even back to grade school,” adding that the issue remains inexperience due to the impact of COVID-19.

For Rolf, it was tough getting wins early as the Rangers opened by dropping three non-league games to Woodmore, 7-2, Genoa, 18-7 and Oak Harbor, 10-0, but then won two in a row, downing Bowsher, 14-9, and Swanton, 6-2. 

The streak ended there as Eastwood took down the Rangers on Monday, 8-0 as junior Lake Boos tossed a no-hitter, striking out 16 and walking one. It was the second no-hitter pitched against Northwood this year as Oak Harbor hurler Gunner Gregg struck out nine and walked three in the Rocket’s 10-run win.

Rolf says it is a matter of getting his seniors used to playing again and the underclassmen varsity experience.

“We have a big senior class that needs playing experience and we look to see them improve through the year,” Rolf said. “We have a good sophomore class that needs playing experience and we look to see them improve through the year.

“Our only expectations are to compete and get better each day. It will be interesting with a year off last year. Our strengths are our senior leadership and youth athleticism. Our weakness is our lack of game playing experience.”

The Rangers turned it around, opening TAAC play with a 13-2 five-inning mercy ruled victory over Maumee Valley on Tuesday. On Wednesday, despite getting outhit just 8-7, Northwood fell to Lake 11-5 to begin the season 3-5.


Strong senior class

Two years ago, Stritch went 4-12 overall and 5-5 in the TAAC and the Cardinals have four returning letter winners, but seven key seniors.

Seniors include shortstop Brayden Asman, catcher/outfielder Michael McGee, infielders Logan Terry, Brennan Kennedy and Travis Mattos and outfielders Austin Sheaves and Logan Moon. 

Key juniors are outfielder Leo Hayden and right-handed pitcher Bobby Heskett and joining the mix is sophomore outfielder Brenden Revels.

Michael McGee, the coaches’ son, was first team All-TAAC two years ago, batting .345 (20 for 58) with six runs, 14 RBIs and four stolen bases. 

Asman, a second baseman who batted .345 (10 for 29) with six runs, six RBIs, and three stolen bases two years ago, and Terry, who batted .327 (17 for 52) with six runs, eight RBIs and four SB, earned second team all-league honors. 

Coach McGee expects his son and Asman, who are both committed to playing at Lourdes University, to be his top hitters, but adds that Terry, Mattox and Sheaves have “increased strength,” Kennedy brings speed on the base paths, and Revels, a multi-sport athlete, brings “athletic ability.”

The coach adds that Revels has good velocity on the mound, Heskett brings “a unique pitching style,” Asman has a “variety of pitches and location control,” and McGee has “location control and the ability to throw strikes.”

In the field Asman has an “ability to track the ball,” McGee has “arm strength and ball control,” Revels has “quickness and intelligence” and Matthew Hoersten beings “pure fundamentals of baseball” to his game.

The Stritch coach adds that Kennedy was his most improved coming into the young season “due to his hard work and dedication to the game.” Also expected to contribute are Tyler Bohnsack, who brings “athletic ability and a mature nature,” and Leo Hayden, who has “versatility and the ability to play multiple positions.

Other expected to contribute include freshman catcher Nate Bennett, senior third baseman Travis Mattox, senior first/third baseman Matt Hoersten, sophomore utility player Colin Fitzgerald, and freshman outfielder Tyler Bohnsack. Team manager is senior Trevor Gose.

(Press photos of head coaches by Doug Karns/ and Harold Hamilton/









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