Division III regional baseball: Madison feeling strong in preparation for Mustangs

Madison’s Jake Edwards puts down a sacrifice bunt during an April 26 game against Carlisle in Madison Township. The host Mohawks won 3-1. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Madison’s Jake Edwards puts down a sacrifice bunt during an April 26 game against Carlisle in Madison Township. The host Mohawks won 3-1. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

There is a feeling of looseness and confidence as Madison High School’s baseball team strives to make history this spring.

Sound familiar?

It should. The Mohawks had this kind of experience last fall by advancing to the Division V state football semifinals, and some of those players are now on the diamond.

“It really just reminds me of the football season how the community’s coming around and just rallying behind us,” said senior shortstop Reid Davis, also a member of the football team. “I expected to be pretty good. Maybe not this far, but right now I’m excited to just keep going and keep winning.”

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Madison is 23-4 and headed to the Athletes in Action complex in Xenia on Thursday for a Division III regional semifinal against Madeira (18-6) at 6 p.m.

Blanchester and Bethel-Tate will meet in the first semifinal at 2:30 p.m. The regional final is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, though if the Mohawks make it that far, the game likely will be moved to 2 p.m. because of graduation.

“These guys are absolutely resilient. They believe in each other,” Madison coach Matt Morrison said. “We are so looking forward to this opportunity. We feel that the only team right now that’s going to beat us is us.”

The Mohawks have never won a regional game. In fact, Madison has only reached the regional level one other time, and that was in 1975.

Morrison doesn’t expect his team to have regional stage fright.

“Not too much really bothers them,” he said. “I think that starts with a senior, Jesse Jones. He does a very good job of keeping our team loose. It’s a serious loose. We tell them if you’re going to make a mistake, make it 100 miles an hour and there’s not going to be any repercussions.”

“It was really the same in football. We’re all loose,” Davis said. “We know when we need to take it seriously. We’re just keeping it fun because that’s really what we’re here for.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Madison High School senior shortstop Reid Davis talks about the 2018 season Tuesday at practice in Madison Township.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Davis is hitting a team-best .521 with 14 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 31 stolen bases, and junior catcher Cameron Svarda is hitting .450 with 43 RBIs and 17 steals.

The Mohawks’ last two wins, 4-3 over Greenon and 1-0 over Versailles in eight innings, ended on walkoff hits by Svarda.

Sophomore left-hander Tristan Sipple threw a 105-pitch shutout in the district-final conquest of Versailles, a victory that struck a blow for the Southwestern Buckeye League against the Midwest Athletic Conference.

“Getting a win over a program with that caliber of athletes was fantastic for our program,” said Morrison, in his first season at the Madison helm. “It really made our guys open their eyes to what the reality could be.”

He said the Mohawks showed their toughness in March during an overnight session of Navy SEAL-style workouts at the school. It proved to be valuable team building.

“That was the toughest challenge I’ve ever seen a group go through in a 12-hour time frame,” Morrison said. “We found out how tough those dudes really are, and there’s a lot in the tank.”

Sipple has been lights out on the mound and will get the start against Madeira, the Cincinnati Hills League runner-up behind Taylor. He’s 8-0 with a 0.24 earned run average and 85 strikeouts in 59.1 innings.

“He’s unreal,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t want to face him. I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Fifth-year Mustangs coach Scott Stocker, who coached Davis in summer ball a couple years ago, said he’ll counter with junior right-hander Tyler Sullivan. He’s 3-1 with two saves, a 1.24 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 34 innings.

“Tyler has really come on,” Stocker said. “He was at 80 miles per hour last year. He sits at 84-87 this year with good breaking stuff. I think he’s got a real chance at a college scholarship in the future.”

Madeira has an experienced team that’s taken a major jump offensively in 2018. Last year, the Mustangs hit .288 with two home runs and 44 stolen bases. This year, they’re hitting .368 with 12 homers and 91 steals.

“These guys started out as freshmen and sophomores playing varsity a couple years back, and we took our lumps. But they’ve really improved across the board,” Stocker said. “It’s a very close-knit group. We really felt this was a year we could do something special if we just did the little things right.

“We worked very hard in the offseason and went very big on speed and power this year. We’ve got three guys (Matt Megois, Patrick Thatcher, Nick Schroeder) dead lifting over 500 pounds, and we’ve got five or six guys running under a 7-flat 60, which is basically college-range speed.

“We show good speed 1 through 9 and have good pop 1 through 9. Maybe not all with home-run power, but at least the idea of putting a charge into the baseball and hitting the gaps.”

Megois, a junior left fielder, has a .500 batting average with five homers, 38 RBIs and 14 steals. Thatcher, a senior third baseman, is hitting .458 with 23 RBIs and 16 steals.

Two Mustangs have committed to play at the next level: Senior pitcher Sam Wirsing (4-1, 1.87, 40 strikeouts in 30 innings) is going to Wright State, and Thatcher is going to Otterbein.

Madeira made it to the state tournament in 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2011, winning the Division III title in 1999. The Mustangs’ last regional appearance was 2011.