Having three Madison County high schools all in the same Mid-State League Division (Ohio) adds a little something extra to all-league recognition. Because not only are those who are earning postseason honors doing so against stiff competition, they’re often doing it against rival schools and against players and athletes they’ve competed against for years.
The MSL recently revealed its all-league teams for the 2014 spring sports season and a large collection of county standouts picked up honors.
West Jefferson (17-9, 10-4) had the best finish among the county schools placing third behind co-league champions Bexley and Columbus Academy (12-2). London finished fifth (9-18, 5-9) and Madison-Plains (4-19, 2-12) finished in last place (eighth).
A trio of Roughriders infielders were named first-team all-league, including Caleb Ferguson, Logan Stepp and J.D. Miller. Ferguson (first base) and Stepp (third base) are seniors, while Miller (shortstop) is a junior and will be counted on to be a leader next spring.
London’s Zac Carey (P/SS) was also a first-team pick. The Bowling Green State University-bound talent was the best player on a team that struggled with consistency.
The league’s second team included London senior catcher Roger Pack, Madison-Plains junior catcher Matt Jeffers and West Jeff seniors Austin Murry and Zach Thomas. The Ohio Division honorable mention players included the Red Raiders’ seniors Levi McClellan and Brok Bennett, Golden Eagles’ juniors Kenkade Snyder and Hunter Butin and West Jeff sophomore Shelton Stanley.
Although his team finished last in the league standings, first-year Plains’ coach Zach Durban is encouraged by the fact that his group of postseason recipients are all slated to come back next year.
“I am happy for our players being recognized with postseason honors,” he said. “I look forward to having them all back as seniors next year.”
All three of the county softball teams finished in the top half of the league standings. West Jefferson (18-6, 12-0) had a perfect league mark while winning the league title outright. London (10-11, 7-5) and Madison-Plains (13-10, 7-5) had solid seasons in tying for third.
The Roughriders also swept the individual awards as junior pitcher Annie Haenszel was the league’s Player of the Year and coach Jim Stevens was the Coach of the Year.
The scary thing for the rest of the MSL Ohio is the fact that every one of the players from Madison County on the first-team all league are scheduled to return next season.
Haenszel (pitcher) was joined on the top squad by junior teammates Taylor Bowman (catcher) and Madison Gatley (shortstop), as well as by sophomore first baseman Emily Stevenson.
Plains’ sophomore Tori Bevington (second baseman) was her school’s only representative on the first team, while London’s Lauren Miller, a junior pitcher, and Baylee Semler, a sophomore outfielder, also made the team.
The second team also featured a number of county players who are expected to be back next year, including Golden Eagles’ sophomores Shelby Puckett (third baseman) and Courtney Davis (pitcher/infielder), as well as junior Maria Grabill. An additional collection of West Jeff juniors were also on the second team with Josie Hume (third base), Taylor Kauser and Kennedy Campbell (both outfielders). The only Madison County all-league player on either of the first teams that will graduate is the Red Raiders’ Rachel Long.
“All of these girls deserve the honors that they were nominated for by the coaches,” West Jeff coach Jim Stevens said. “They prove themselves on the field with the way they play the game and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”
The list of local players earning all-league honorable mention included London’s Taylor Melillo (senior), Aliyah Hiram (senior) and Talia Frye (sophomore). Madison-Plains’ senior Liza Watson (catcher) and freshman Macy Long (outfield) and West Jeff senior Leanna Henry were also honored.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or on Twitter @MadPressSports.