Now that the 2014 Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic is behind us, it’s time to turn the page and prepare for the 2014-2015 school year.
The Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic this year featured a high school baseball and a high school softball all-star game featuring over 70 of Northeast Ohio’s top players. The two games featured many big-time individual performances and left the participants with memories that will last a lifetime.
The games also raised $500 for the Wounded Warrior Project. The softball game generated $108.49 in gate donations and the baseball game collected $116 for the WWP. OhioVarsity.com donated $1 for each ticket sold and pitched in a few extra dollars to push the total donated to the Wounded Warrior Project to an even amount.
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Finally, here’s a look at OhioVarsity.com’s Top 10 moments and individual performances from the games.
1. Mentor’s Sam Vilk becomes the first player to homer in an Ohio Varsity all-star game
It took 15 2/3 innings, dating back to last year’s Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic, but Vilk became the first player to go yard in the OhioVarsity.com All-Star Classic. Vilk hit a 2-1 pitch over the fence in right center to give the Marines All-Stars a 4-1 lead they held onto until the game was called due to lightning midway through the eighth.
2. Madison’s Amanda Mangelo dominates on the mound
Mangelo did a little bit of everything for the Army All-Stars in their 6-1 win over the Navy. She was most dominant in the pitching circle, where she struck out six of the 11 batters she faced in her three innings of work. She also scored two runs for the Army, including one on a steal of home.
3. Cuyahoga Heights coaches/players sweep the OVASC
Cuyahoga Heights had a very successful spring sports season with the softball team winning the Division IV state championship and the baseball team advancing to the regional championship game. Softball coach Christy Zawadzki and Brianna Galang-Swanson then represented the Army All-Stars in their 6-1 win over the Navy and baseball coach Marc Lowther and players Zac Lowther and Dylan Denner helped the Marines run their winning streak to two games over the Air Force with a 6-1 win. Adding to the Heights flavor, the softball team was honored prior to the softball all-star game and even threw out the first pitch.
4. “Practice? We Talkin’ About Practice”
Allen Iverson may hold little regard for practice but West Geauga shortstop Brianne Sexton certainly takes a different approach. During the Army squad’s practice session at Kirtland Recreation Park, Sexton dove for a ground ball in the hole and came up with the ball. It isn’t often you’ll see a player make that kind of effort in any practice session, let alone an all-star game practice.
5. How far we’ve come
From 1999-2001, I coached softball at Orange High School. That was a period of time when most area high schools transitioned from slow pitch to fast pitch. Let’s be kind and say the level of play had potential. After watching the quality and intensity of play in the Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic, it’s safe to say Northeast Ohio is closing in and becoming one of the state’s best areas for the sport.
6. Not everyone can throw a Knuckleball
Cuyahoga Heights pitcher Zac Lowther, a Xavier recruit, opened the baseball all-star game by throwing a knuckleball to friend and summer ball teammate Colin Hites of Fairport Harding. To say Lowther missed the strike zone is an understatement. Lowther nearly threw the pitch over Kenston High School’s Major League backstop. It’s safe to assume the Division I Musketeers recruited Lowther for his low-90’s fastball and not his junk.
7. Big hit from small fry
Geneva’s Jamie Verno wasn’t the tallest player on the Army squad but she did come up with the biggest hit of the game. Verno’s bases loaded hit gave the Army a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning and was at the time the first clutch hit of the contest.
8. “Wear it; we’ve got ice.”
Covering high school sports, I often hear some funny things coming from the team benches and dugouts. Midway through the Marines’ 4-1 win over the Air Force, Chagrin Falls’ Brennan Morrell barely avoided being hit by a pitch. A teammate shouted out, “Wear it; we’ve got ice.” It was a funny moment in a lighthearted game.
9. Productive day for North’s McKinley
Eastlake North shortstop Halle McKinley was one of the Rangers’ most productive two-sport athletes. McKinley was one of the area’s top basketball players and she ended her career as one of the school’s top softball players. She also holds the record for most hits in a single Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic. McKinley was 3-for-4 with an RBI in the Navy’s 4-1 loss to the Army.
10. Ken Goodman’s live rendition of the National Anthem
As a veteran, I’m always moved by the playing of the National Anthem. Hearing it played live takes that feeling to another level and Ken Goodman’s live version on the trumpet, coupled with the presence of the Army Color Guard, definitely hit a nerve.
OhioVarsity.com would like to thank Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, DesignWorks, Funds2Orgs.com, Mentor Kia and Mentor Mitsubishi for their support of the Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic. A special thank you goes out to Mike Mezgec of Adler Team Sports for donating the game balls and to Sarah Neumore of NuThreadz for her efforts in putting together the team jerseys.
Photos from the 2014 Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic: