Experienced hitters Noel, Rable, Knisely to lead Rangers

J. Patrick Eaken

Two years ago, Northwood baseball went 10-10 and 3-5 in the league. In 2021, first-year coach Clay Rolf has six returning lettermen. 

That includes five seniors — pitcher/outfielder Cameron Noel, first baseman/outfielder A.J. Rable, pitcher/third baseman Nolan Knisely, catcher/infielder Jonah Robles and pitcher/outfielder Espen Singlar. The Rangers opened the season 3-5, including 1-0 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.

Rolf says Noel, Rable and Knisley are expected to be his hitting leaders. Two years ago, as a sophomore, Knisely batted .364 (20 for 55) with 10 runs, 19 RBIs, three stolen bases and a .470 on-base percentage.

As a sophomore first baseman, Rable batted .411 (23 for 560 with 17 runs, 23 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and a .521 OBP. Rable had a double in a 7-2 loss to Woodmore and Singlar went 2-for-3.

On the mound, Noel, Kniseley and Singlar bring experience and will lead the rotation.

Singlar got the win on the mound as the Rangers defeated Bowsher 14-9, striking out eight, walking two and giving up seven hits and one earned run in six innings while throwing 108 pitches, 74 for strikes. Rable, playing first base, went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs.

Singlar also got the win in a 13-2 TAAC victory over Maumee Valley, pitching a complete game, striking out four and walking none. He allowed three hits and one earned run, and only needed 59 pitches, 44 of them strikes. In defeating Maumee Valley, Noel had a triple, three RBIs and scored twice. 

Knisely pitched a complete game in a 6-2 win over Swanton, striking out three, walking two while giving up seven hits and two runs while throwing 114 pitches, 74 for strikes. 

In that game, Northwood had eight stolen bases, including two each by Northwood sophomore starting shortstop A.J. Cruz and second baseman Braden Alore. Northwood also had eight stolen bases in the Swanton game, including three by Cruz and two by Alore. 

Against Swanton pitching, Cruz went 3-for-4 with a double and scored twice, plus he also pitched a scoreless seventh in the win over Bowsher. Cruz also went 2-for-2 with an RBI and Knisely belted a double in an 18-7 loss to Genoa, and Cruz went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI in the win over Maumee Valley.

On Wednesday, in an 11-5 loss to Lake, Cruz and Noel went 2-for-4 at the plate and Alore belted a double. The Rangers were leading 4-1 until the Flyers scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Cruz has been a nice addition to the squad, Rolf says.

“He is playing very well on both sides of the ball,” Rolf said. “Very good kid as well, works hard, quick learner, and wants to do well. He has been the catalyst of our offensive for the first week-plus of games.” 

Defensively, Rolf says that Jonah Robles is an experienced catcher who “can help lead our fielders”

Kalib Ruch, a pitcher and infielder, has committed to play college baseball but is currently out with an injury. Rolf says Ruch “has been a good leader for us and is contributing in other ways.”

Others expected to contribute on the field include Mason Smith (P/3B/SS), Austin Schroeder (IF), Nathaniel Warfel (OF), Isaac Hoffer (C/IF), Sean Kovacs (P/IF), Drayyn Luna (1B) and Logan Bouk (1B).




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