Despite not bringing back the warm weather from its recent trip to Myrtle Beach, the Canfield baseball team did bring back some hope for the near future.
The Cardinals finished 2-3 on their southern sojourn, but put up some incredible battles against teams that have already played a great portion of their schedules.
“We played some fantastic competition,” said Canfield head coach Matt Koenig a day after his boys returned from the beach. “Each team had at least 20 games in. They were already starting their tournaments. We played really well all week and got the experience we need.”
That experience will go a long way when the Cardinals begin the Ohio tournament in a few weeks. Until that time Koenig’s kids can bask in some of the strides they made last week.
“Our pitching staff did well,” mentioned Koenig first when listing the things that went right on the spring trip. “Michael Wittman picked up a win versus the host team and Brad Smith threw a five inning one-hitter.”
In Smith’s near shutout, the senior struck out six and was backed by a barrage of Canfield hits and runs. The Cardinals, whose offense has been average all year in our less than perfect weather, waited for the heat and humidity of South Carolina to clobber the baseball.
“Our bats came alive,” said Koenig happily. “It’s difficult to get timing just hitting in the gym. We saw curves, sliders and off speed pitches on regular basis (during the tournament). We had eight or more hits in each game.”
Leading the way on offense was Smith who supplemented his superb pitching with a homerun and three doubles in Myrtle Beach. Wittman had three doubles of his own to go along with his terrific throwing. Josh Midgely, Brock McGivern and Joe Tuchek were also mentioned by Koenig as hitters who were huge last week.
“They were very solid throughout,” Koenig claimed.
The only bad thing about last week for Canfield is that it had to end. Although it was sunny and in the mid seventies when the local kids returned home last Saturday, the climate turned back to cool and wet in a hurry. Coach Koenig was keeping his fingers crossed this past Sunday night that three huge conference games against Howland, Niles and Beaver Local this week will be played instead of postponed.
“These are big games,” he said. “We also have an interesting doubleheader with Dublin Sciota and Cleveland St. Ignatius this Saturday at Eastwood Field.”
The contests with Howland, Sciota and St. Ignatius will pose tremendous tests for the Cardinals because all three of those opponents are Division I stalwarts. That is why the end result of the games the Cardinals just completed in the Mingo Bay Classic is basically irrelevant. The fact that the Canfield kids got on the field against some powerful schools is the true reward.
“The games against those teams in Myrtle Beach will help us tremendously,” Koenig commented. “We make our schedule tough to help us play these type games and games in the tournament.”