The West Jefferson High School baseball team is defining the odds this spring.
Cold, wet weather in Central Ohio has made playing games extremely difficult. But the Roughriders are not only playing, they’re excelling and have the look of a team determined to make some serious noise come the postseason. West Jeff improved its overall record to 9-0 (4-0 in Ohio Heritage Conference) with a hard-fought 1-0 shutout of Northeastern Monday.
“We feel like we have played good up to this point,” West Jeff coach Jason Bogenrife said. “We are just taking it one practice and game at a time. The kids know if we all continue to improve daily we will be were we want by tournament time.”
Perhaps more impressive than the fact that his team has yet to drop a game, Bogenrife’s squad has played a staggering nine games despite snow, rain and cold temperatures which have limited other teams from getting on the field.
“We have a great field and it seems to play well even with all the rain and snow,” he said. “We spent a lot of time practicing in the cold weather and again our players just show up and compete despite the poor weather.”
The team has proven itself capable of being able to in multiple ways, whether its being in high-scoring outbursts or behind dominate pitching and airtight defense.
“We have won a couple 1-run games and the rest have been by a larger run deficit,” Bogenrife said. “This group shows up to compete at an elite level and continues to live out their core values. This is a great group of guys who play with high standards.
“Our strength is our culture and leadership. This is a baseball brotherhood. The kids love to play the game and work hard to improve everyday. The bar has been raised here at West Jefferson. “
Another obvious strength lies in the abilities of staff ace Shane Gray, who has had a memorable start to the regular season. His gem of an outing Monday has become par for the course.
“Shane threw his second no hitter tonight against a very good Northeastern baseball team,” the coach said. “He just goes out and does what he does. He’s very consistent pounding the strike zone and he attacks hitters. His teammates have played great defense behind him as well. We have played error free baseball for several games.
The lone run Monday was scored when pinch runner Gabe Jones went first to third on a infield single and Hunter Braithwaite delivered the deep sacrifice fly.
“It was a great team effort,” the coach said.
West Jeff will play at Southeastern at 5 p.m. Friday. It will then travel to Newark Catholic Saturday for a doubleheader starting at noon. The ’Riders will host Greenon Monday, April 16, and play at Springfield Catholic Tuesday, April 17.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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