First basemen Hoffman, Witt will drive pitchers batty

J. Patrick Eaken

If you were a first baseman nominated for the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Baseball Team, you were in pretty good company.

Two senior first basemen, Genoa’s Seth Witt and Lake’s Cam Hoffman, tied in voting for Offensive Player of the Year and will share the honor.

Witt, the Northern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year, batted .500 (35-for-70) with 12 doubles, one home run, 22 RBIs, four stolen bases, 28 walks, four stolen bases and a .654 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage.

However, it is Witt’s keen eye at the plate, getting a hit in one out of every two official at-bats, that gives pitchers fits. 

Witt is solid on the mound, too, finishing 6-2 with 103 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 54 innings. He allowed 20 hits, 12 runs, including just five earned runs, for an 0.65 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. 

Genoa coach Gary Nissen said Witt had one of the best seasons in Genoa baseball history — in the batter’s box and on the mound.  He set school records for batting average, was second in school history in strikeouts and third all-time in ERA.  

“Seth is a team leader, excellent in the classroom (fifth in his class), a tough hard-nosed competitor, and he loves the game.  We think it’s just the beginning for Seth as he moves on to play at Ashland University.  We will miss him along with our other five seniors who lead this team to another successful season.”

The five seniors, including London Stuller, Brandon Hudson, Casey Laytart, and Bluffton University commit Will Nissen, led Genoa to a 19-8 season (9-4 NBC), including a No. 14 ranking in the Division III state coaches’ poll. The only team in the Comets’ way during Northern Buckeye Conference action was No. 3 Eastwood, which finished 26-2 (13-1 NBC), won a league title and reached the regional semifinals.

Hoffman, who will play college baseball at NCAA Division II Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, was one hit short of batting..500, getting 36 hits in 74 at bats for a .486 average. It is the second straight year Hoffman was voted Offensive All-Press POY.

Hoffman scored 32 runs with seven doubles, one triple, four homers, 29 RBIs, 10 SB and a .616 OBP. Plus, he too, is a solid performer on the mound.

“Cam is a very hard worker and spends a lot of time on his craft.  So, for him to have been selected for this honor is very deserving,” Lake first-year coach Casey Witt said.

“Cam was a lightning rod right in the middle of our order.  He was a guy we could rely on to help set the tone every game whether it was getting on base, seeing a lot of pitches, or driving in runs. Cam’s offensive abilities are very special, and some of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Eastwood junior Case Boos was second in Offensive POY voting and his older brother, senior Lake Boos and Cardinal Stritch sophomore catch Nathaniel Bennett also received votes.

Yet, despite Witt’s numbers on the hill, it was Eastwood junior Ethan Rapp who ran away with All-Press Pitcher of the Year honors.

Rapp was 8-1 with 76 strikeouts in 51.2 innings, allowing just one extra base hit. He gave up 22 hits and seven runs, but only three were earned, and struck out 76 in garnering an 0.40 ERA, which is a school record. 

“Ethan did an incredible job this season. He always worked ahead of hitters and attacked them with all pitches,” Eastwood coach Kevin Leady said.  “I am so proud of the effort Ethan showed us all season long. All of his hard work he put in during the offseason really paid off in the spring.”

Witt was second in Pitcher of the Year voting, Clay sophomore C.J. Boudreaux was third and Stritch senior Bobby Heskett was fourth. Coaches from 10 area schools in the Eastern Maumee Bay community and a host of media members from the community contribute to the vote.

For his efforts, Leady was overwhelmingly the All-Press Coach of the Year. Not only did the Eagles win a league title and reach the regional title, Eastwood mowed down three Midwest Athletic Conference teams, Rockford Parkway, Minster and Coldwater, in succession during the district tournament. 

That is not an easy task considering the MAC’s tournament success historically, crowning 145 state team champions in multiple sports.

Leady knew he had highly skilled players coming into the season. What he also had were guys who take care of business by properly preparing. He made a statement to The Press this season that is worth repeating.

“They are good athletes but the way they approach everything is incredible,” Leady said. “They don’t care about themselves. They care about the team. 

“Honestly, we haven’t talked about any stats with any of the kids other than them being (winners). Our message to the guys is that every day you play our record is 0-0 and your job is to get to 1-0. Then, that game is over and then on to the next one,” Leady continued.

“They don’t really care about the big hoopla. To be honest, they call it all ‘noise.’ As soon as somebody starts to talk about this or that, they shut each other down, like, ‘Nope, that is all noise,’ and we focus on today.”

All but two votes went to Leady, the others going to Clay coach Jim Phillips, who led his team to a Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship. One year ago, Leady and Phillips were tied in voting and shared All-Press Coach of the Year honors.

(Hoffman photo courtesy Innovations Portrait Studio/ and Witt photo by Harold Hamilton/





The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association