City League baseball, softball races heating upWritten by David Gatwood | | email@example.com
Springtime weather in Toledo is unpredictable and this often has a profound effect on the baseball and softball title races in the City League. Spring this year has been like a roller coaster ride at Cedar Point and as the season winds down in the next three weeks, it will be interesting to see how the weather-related cancellations impact this year’s races.
On the softball side of the ledger, the top of the league is as well balanced as it has been in many years. Last year, the Clay Eagles surprised everyone and broke through to end the string of St. Ursula and Notre Dame titles. The Clay ladies did it with a young line-up and were picked by the City League coaches to repeat, but the Eagles have discovered repeating is a tough road.
As City League play begins in earnest, four teams appear posed to challenge for league supremacy. As the defending champion, Clay still must be considered the favorite, but the loss of starting shortstop Amanda Watson, who decided to concentrate on soccer, has been a difficult adjustment. The Eagles must fight back from an early season loss to St. Ursula and win out against challengers such as Start and Whitmer to grab that No. 1 seed in the City League Championship tournament.
As always, the St. Ursula Arrows are in the mix. The Arrows are not as strong as in past years, but the arm and hitting of Laura Schultz make St. Ursula a contender. The Arrows’ 2-1 victory over Clay looms as a huge feather in their cap, but that victory must be balanced against the Arrows’ subsequent loss to another potential contender, the Start Spartans.
The Lady Spartans are in rarified air. Their program has been among the also-rans in the City League for many years and it has been only in the past few years that they have been respectable. Not coincidentally, the arrival of Start starting pitcher Lauren Orban, on the Start campus marked the Spartan upswing. Orban keeps her team in most games and as Orban goes, so go the Spartans. If she can remain steady, Start will likely challenge for the title.
Of the remaining City League teams, Whitmer appears to be in the best position to grab the fourth spot in the championship tournament. Although weather-related cancellations have limited the Panthers’ city league play, their non-league play indicates they are probably a bit stronger than any of the other potential finalists. Whitmer is a young team but are improving. Look for them to be among the City League’s final four.
On the boys’ side, it has come down to a two-horse race. Non-league play has shown that the overall play of the City League is way down this year. Usually strong programs such as Central and St. Francis have struggled while Bowsher is young and Whitmer has been inconsistent.
The three big programs so far this season have been Start, Clay and St. John’s Jesuit and of these, St. John’s or Clay will ultimately grab the regular season title. Start has virtually played itself out of contention for the No. 1 spot by virtue of having already suffered losses to
St. John’s and Clay. This sets the stage for next week’s contest between Clay and St. John’s as the mini-title game. The winner of that game is undeniably in the driver’s seat.
For more high school sports news, visit David Gatwood’s Web site, www.nwoprepsports.com.