Owens perfect fit for Mays, Cannon and Szymczak

J. Patrick Eaken

When you take in the fact that all five Clay baseball seniors signed to play college baseball, you have to give Owens Community College coach John Parisho some of the credit.
Three of the five, Skylar Mays, Brendan Cannon and Ty Szymczak, will play for Parisho and his assistants Craig Meinzer, Grant Peters, Nelson Menendez and Greg Nartker.
Szymczak was the last to sign, only because he was considering playing football at Trine University, but his senior baseball season getting canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic may have altered his decision.
“I started out wanting to play football — I was looking at Trine University to play some football, but especially with losing the season this year I just had that drive to go onto the next level and play baseball. So, I got my searching on, and (Clay coach Jim) Phillips and all my coaches just helped me a lot with that. They talked to Owens coach Parisho over there. I loved what they had going on over there and loved the connection between Coach Parisho and me. I feel like its the right decision for me moving on.”
On the mound his junior year for Clay, Szymczak was 3-1 with 18 strikeouts, 15 walks, one save and a 4.10 ERA in 29 innings. An Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press honorable mention selection as a junior, Phillips said he would have been in the starting rotation this spring.
“Ty was going to be our No. 2 — a three-pitch pitcher who is very complete for being a high schooler. For high school kids, very rarely is their No. 2 pitch a change-up. He was working that curve ball into it, so he’s a polished kid for a high schooler, and 100 percent, I think he’s got a high ceiling for himself on the mound,” Phillips said.
Szymczak believes this year’s Clay team would have been a strong contender for a Three Rivers Athletic Conference title and primed for a long tournament run. Last year’s team was 17-8 and reached the Division I regional tournament.
“It’s disappointing knowing what we could have done,” Szymczak said. “I just want to thank all my teammates and especially the five seniors for being the best teammates ever for the three years I was there. I’m just really disappointed about not getting the season in, and again, knowing what we could have done. I think we could have had a state title, and if not, a TRAC championship in our future for sure. It’s been a great run.”
Cannon added, “I definitely think a TRAC championship was what we were aiming for, or even higher than that. I think we were capable of it.”
“A powerhouse real soon”
Cannon said he made the decision to attend Owens a while back after visiting with Parisho at the Perrysburg Township campus.
“Over the summer, I was starting to email schools and see what I thought was best for me. So I took a visit to Owens and I knew right away that’s kind of where I wanted to be. I like Coach Parisho. He’s a really good guy, he knows about baseball. I think that program is starting on the up and will be a powerhouse real soon, in my opinion,” Cannon said.
Phillips said Cannon and Mays each brought their own set of skills to the program.
“Brendan was going to catch for us, play first base and pitch for us,” Phillips said. “We were looking forward to him being a middle of the order stick for us for sure. He’s one of those kids who had a really on-base for us last year and we’re looking for him to drive in a lot of runs as guys in front of him got on base.
“Skylar is that true utility guy. He would have played some outfield for us, he would have played some infield, he would have pitched for us a little bit. He’s one of those guys who is a great team player willing to do whatever we needed him to do, or whatever we asked him to do. He would attack it at 100 percent. He is a guy that can always find a place on a team just because he’s kind of that glue guy who just does anything to help the team win.”
Mays, Cannon and Szymczak are heading to Owens looking at the bigger picture. The hope is after playing two years at a community college, they will get picked up by a four-year NCAA or NAIA school.
“That was definitely part of it. It’s obviously my dream was to play Division I baseball, but I was only getting D-II attention, so I wanted to test my waters first because it’s a huge dream of mine and I’ve been working towards it since I was 8 years old. I just wanted to keep my options open and I think Owens is a great program and it’s only 15 minutes away from house. It was just a perfect fit.”
Szymczak and Cannon say they are glad he’s carrying on his baseball career with two of his lifetime friends.
“I think it’s big that I’m getting some of my teammates from school to go Owens with me,” Cannon said.
Szymczak added, “It’s definitely going to be nice playing with them two more years considering I’ve played with them all my life,” “I pretty much played with them all my life. If we didn’t play on the same team, they were always opponents of mine. We’ve always went to school together. We’ve always known our love for the game of baseball, playing with each other in the backyard. It’s always been a grind with them two and the other two — all five of us have been grinding baseball week-in and week-out and every day.
“Every day we text, call, and I still work out with Skylar every other day. We talk with Parisho a lot, and he lets us know updates and what we are going to do for schooling coming into the fall and when workouts are going to start.”
Cannon says he wouldn’t be playing collegiately if it weren’t for Phillips, and he was fortunate he got that opportunity.
“I would say that coach Phillips is a guy that it’s impossible not to get along with. He is so involved with us,” Cannon said. “He treats us like one of his kids, not to mention he’s also a very smart baseball guy. He’s a guy who will joke around with you, never too hard, but he definitely pushes us because he knows what we are capable of. I enjoy playing for him. I wouldn’t want to play with any other coach over my four years at Clay.”


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