Thursday, September 23, 2021

2018 CVC Baseball Preview

The Chagrin Valley Conference always has competitive races in the spring and this season should be no different.

Despite the competitive nature of the league, the two defending champions are heavily favored to win their respective divisions.

Chagrin Falls won the CVC Chagrin Division last season while Hawken took home the Valley Division title. The league coaches overwhelmingly project the Tigers and Hawks to repeat this spring.

Here’s a look at how the CVC coaches expect the league standings to shake out (click on a team name for a more in-depth preview):

CHAGRIN DIVISION

1. CHAGRIN FALLS TIGERS

The defending CVC Chagrin Division champs return eight starters and a very deep pitching staff. That’s probably why the Tigers wear a nearly unanimous choice to repeat as conference champs. Head coach Michael Sweeney’s team won 24 games last spring but could be even better this year.

2. GENEVA EAGLES

After winning 17 games and finishing one game out of first place in the conference last season the Geneva Eagles are ready to take the next step. The Eagles return eight starters from the squad that finished the 2017 season 17-7 overall and 11-3 in league play and reached the Division II Jefferson District semifinals.

3. PERRY PIRATES

After finishing 9-14 last spring, Perry opens the 2018 campaign with high hopes and for good reason. The Pirates return six starters and have more depth and cohesion throughout the lineup.

4. ORANGE LIONS

Did not respond.

5. WICKLIFFE BLUE DEVILS

With just four returning starters and a host of new faces projected to start this season, Wickliffe head coach Phil Motta knows he’ll have to be patient with the Blue Devils as they find their way this spring but the reward could be worth the wait. The Blue Devils finished the 2017 season with a 15-13 record and an impressive win over Trinity, ranked No. 7 in Division III, to win a sectional championship.

6. BEACHWOOD BISON

Beachwood opens the season with a new coaching staff, a small roster and just three returning starters, but the Bison are eager to kick off the new season. Head coach Andy Pohl spent last year at Newbury and before that he won five regional titles with three different programs in the Chicago area before returning to Cleveland last winter.

7. WEST GEAUGA WOLVERINES

Did not respond.

8. FAIRPORT SKIPPERS

Did not respond.

VALLEY DIVISION

1. HAWKEN HAWKS

Hawken opens the 2018 season with a veteran lineup and lofty goals. The Hawks return eight starters from the team that won the CVC Valley Division championship and finished as the Division III district runner-up. Winning the league title and making a deep playoff run are among the goals the Hawks have set for themselves this spring. They also hope to win 20 games for the third straight season.

2. KIRTLAND HORNETS

Kirtland returns just four starters from last spring but the Hornets aren’t short on talent. Head coach Luke Smrdel is optimistic his players can make a run at a league and district title once the younger players gain the necessary experience on the varsity stage.

3. INDEPENDENCE BLUE DEVILS

Independence has made several runs to the regional tournament in Division III but the Blue Devils will play down a division this spring and they hope to find even more success in Division IV. Head coach Mark Echstenkamper has five returning starters and a large group of seniors to help guide the team to a long postseason run.

4. BERKSHIRE BADGERS

Berkshire opens the 2018 season with a young roster but the Badgers do have plenty of talent. Second-year head coach Brian Hiscox is excited about his team’s potential but he knows this youthful group will experience some growing pains. The Badgers, who finished 8-14 overall and 6-6 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division last spring, return just one starter and four lettermen from a year ago.

5. CARDINAL HUSKIES

Seth Klepper was a member of Cardinal’s 1996 team that finished as the Division III state runner-up and now in his first year as the head coach of the Huskies he’s hoping to restore that winning tradition to the program. To do that, Klepper filled his coach staff with other former players who played for Rich Driscoll, who compiled a 153-33 record during his tenure in the 1990s.

6. CUYAHOGA HEIGHTS REDSKINS

Did not respond.

7. HARVEY RED RAIDERS

Did not respond.

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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