2014 Class Could Be Moeller's Mightiest
March 26, 2014Cincinnati Moeller High School
by Tom Groeschen, Cincinnati Enquirer
2014 Class Could Be Moeller's Mightiest
Moeller fans proudly refer to their teams as "Mighty Moe," with multiple state titles in baseball, football and basketball. In baseball, the Crusaders rarely have been mightier than now.
Moeller has won two consecutive Ohio Division I championships, and the Crusaders enter 2014 ranked No. 1 in the Enquirer preseason coaches poll.
Moeller is ranked No. 17 nationally by USA Today.
"Moeller is loaded again this year," Lakota West coach Bill Dreisbach said. "Until someone knocks them off, they are the team to beat."
After Moeller, the top five includes No. 2 Mason, No. 3 Elder, No. 4 Lakota East and No. 5 Lakota West.
"Without a doubt, the most talented team is Moeller," Elder coach Mark Thompson said. "Their pitching staff is exceptional, and they may have the best all-around player in the city in (shortstop) Riley Mahan."
Moeller's top players also include pitcher Zach Logue (along with Mahan, a Kentucky signee), pitcher Gus Ragland (Miami University signee as a football quarterback), pitcher Nick Voss (Cincinnati signee) and junior pitcher Josh Hollander (Kent State commit).
Moeller coach Tim Held is 159-26 in six seasons, including state titles in 2009, 2012 and 2013. Held said his team is well aware of expectations for a three-peat in 2014.
"It is brought up from time to time, but all the players and coaches are focusing on getting better every day so we are ready for the tournament in May," Held said. "Defending our title is a long way away."
Mahan last year hit .406 with 27 steals. Logue was 8-1 with 56 strikeouts in 56 innings and also hit .455, and Ragland was 7-0 with an 0.69 ERA.
Moeller went 32-2 last year, and became the first Ohio Division I team to repeat as state champion in 17 years.
TOP TIER: Top local Division I players, according to Chris Valentine of PrepBaseballReport.com, include RHP/1B Zack Shannon of Anderson (Ohio State commit); C Jordan McDonough of St. Xavier (Ohio State); SS Mahan and LHP Logue of Moeller; C Ty Duvall of Lebanon (Vanderbilt); RHP/1B/C Rodney Hutchison (North Carolina) and RHP Chris Martin (Kent State) of Mason; OF Blaine Griffiths (Xavier) and LHP Grant Schuermann (Furman) of Lakota West; and pitchers Shane Smith and Kyle Koppenhoefer of Elder (UC commit).
NUMBER ONE: Anderson's Shannon is rated as the No. 19 player nationally by PerfectGame.org and No. 1 overall in Ohio. Shannon also is rated the No. 1 first baseman in the country by Perfect Game.
"This summer we saw him up to 94 mph off the mound," said Drake Browne, national director of the Perfect Game Super 25. "He has big power potential and the ball jumps off his bat."
COACHING CHANGES: New coaches include Bob Sherlock of St. Xavier and Curt Bly of Mason, with longtime coaches Bill Slinger (St. Xavier) and Ken Gray (Mason) having retired.
TITLE TOWN: How deep is Cincinnati baseball? Among the Enquirer top 10 teams, previous state championship winners include Moeller, Elder, Lakota East, Lakota West and Hamilton.
All of those schools own at least one big-school state title since 1980, as do St. Xavier, Oak Hills, Fairfield and Western Hills.
PLAY BALL: The first games of the season are Saturday. The sectional tournament runs May 10-17, districts May 19-24, regionals May 29-30, and the state tournament is set for June 5-7 at Huntington Park in Columbus.
NO GUARANTEES: While Moeller is the clear favorite to reach Columbus again, even the best can fall at tournament time. One hot pitcher, one bad inning, or any number of circumstances can end a season.
The 2013 Mason team, for instance, was one of the best in local history. The Comets were 26-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state before losing to Clayton Northmont, 6-1, in the regional semifinals.
Northmont took control with a four-run first inning that included three Mason errors, two walks and a hit batter.
Division I area coaches' poll
1. MOELLER (23) 230
2. Mason 176
3. Elder 124
4. Lakota East 121
5. Lakota West 112
t6. La Salle 68
t6. Milford 68
t8. Hamilton 62
t8. Loveland 62
10. Lebanon 53
Others: St. Xavier 49; Oak Hills 44; Anderson 41; Harrison 26; Kings 11; Fairfield 4; Glen Este 4; Turpin 4; Ross 3; Walnut Hills 2; Western Hills 1