Prep baseball preview: Franklin grad hopes to raise Wildcats’ stature

Franklin High School baseball coach Kyle Wainscott

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Franklin High School baseball coach Kyle Wainscott

FRANKLIN — Kyle Wainscott believes he’s got the tools for a successful first season as Franklin High School’s baseball coach.

The 2008 Franklin graduate has taken over for Matt Current and has high hopes for the Wildcats, who haven’t had a winning record in Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division play since 2015.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t improve where we’ve been the last few years,” Wainscott said. “With the talent on this team, if we’re not in the hunt, I’m going to be disappointed in myself. We’ve got a lot of seniors and juniors, a lot of kids who have contributed already and are ready to take this to the next level.”

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Franklin was 12-11 last season and placed sixth in the Southwestern Division with a 4-8 mark. According to the SWBL website, the Wildcats haven’t won a league title since 2009.

Enter Wainscott, who’s just 29 years old. He played for Matt Kinser at Franklin and is now coaching his son, junior Aiden Kinser.

“I’ve been around a lot of baseball,” Wainscott said. “I’ve been privileged to play under some great coaches. I played under Tracy Smith when I was a little tot. Scott Googins was one of our coaches one summer. I’ve been around Ty Neal my whole life. I played for Steve Dintaman for three summers. And I had a great high school experience with Matt Kinser.”

He doesn’t have much high school coaching experience — Wainscott was a JV assistant at Franklin for two years and a varsity assistant at Madeira for one. He’s coached the Midland Braves 17U team for the last eight years.

Wainscott lives in Franklin with his wife Jessica and their 2-year-old daughter Harper, and son Larkin is due in August. He is a computer instructor at Schenck Elementary School in Franklin.

“This has been my goal since I started coaching at 19, 20 years old. I always wanted to come back and be Franklin’s head coach,” said Wainscott, who attended the University of Charleston briefly before earning a sport administration degree at Cincinnati. “I was a finalist when Matt Current got the job. They told me I was too young.

“We’ve had a great offseason, and we’re ready to go. Before Luke Kennard and basketball took over, baseball was traditionally the strongest sport at Franklin. We want to get back to that. I want our kids to go 100 miles an hour and not be afraid to make aggressive mistakes.”

The Wildcats only had one senior (Austin Gilbert) last year, so the 2019 roster is filled with experience.

There are six returning .300 hitters from last season — shortstop Kinser (.422, 11 RBIs, 10 steals), senior left fielder Aaron Blake (.394, 24 RBIs), junior third baseman Tytus Tussey (.343), junior catcher Zack Minton (.324, 15 RBIs, nine steals), sophomore first baseman Gunner Lakins (.323) and senior right fielder Drew Gescuk (.323).

Also expected to be starters are senior second baseman Cooper Daniels and senior center fielder Champ Howard. Wainscott said the outfield has other playing-time contenders as well, including juniors Logan Willis and Braden Woods, along with sophomores Tyler Woods and Casey Judy.

Freshman Pierce Bauerle is a highly regarded newcomer who figures to be in the lineup every day as the designated hitter or an infielder.

“There’s been a lot of hype around him, and so far it’s been pretty true,” Wainscott said. “We’ll see if he can transfer it to games.”

The Franklin coach said his squad isn’t blessed with a lot of speed. The plan is to hit the ball hard, hit it in gaps, and take extra bases whenever possible.

“I don’t know how many bases we’re going to be able to steal with just our foot speed,” Wainscott said. “But we’re going to drive some baseballs. We’ve got some guys that can leave the yard. This team hits more balls out in BP than I’ve ever seen, and our yard’s huge.”

Senior Clayton Black has one of those potent bats and will be the DH when he’s not pitching. The Miamisburg transfer and Tussey are expected to lead the mound corps.

Black can bring the fastball around 90 miles per hour and is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds.

“We’re pretty excited about those guys 1 and 2,” Wainscott said. “Tussey’s not going to overwhelm you with the fastball. He’s probably in the low 80s, but has a lot of stuff with it, a lot of movement.”

Senior Kyle Russell and junior Carson Bowling are also in the pitching plans, along with junior Zach Johnson, Judy and Braden Woods. Russell and Woods are the staff’s only two left-handers.

“I think we have some depth on the mound,” Wainscott said. “There’s no question we’ve got some arms, but we’ve been walking too many guys in the scrimmages. I think we’ll score a lot of runs, but it would be a lot easier on myself and everybody else’s heart if we could just throw the ball over the plate. We walked the bases loaded in a scrimmage and turned a triple play to get out of it. I don’t know how often we’re going to pull that one off.”

Three players have committed to play at the next level: Blake (Indianapolis), Black (North Carolina Central) and Daniels (Thomas More).

Franklin opens the season Saturday afternoon against Painesville Harvey at Wright State University.

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