Lakota East baseball team wins school’s first state title
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For the first time in school history, Lakota East High School captured a state championship in a varsity sport.
Accomplishing that feat was the Lakota East baseball team, which played the title game at the same time fellow classmates were attending graduation ceremonies at Miami University’s Millet Hall.
The club’s 12 seniors didn’t mind missing their graduation.
“We were all excited. We didn’t really care (about missing our graduation). We would rather win the state championship than attend some boring two-hour long graduation,” senior pitcher Evan Hills said.
Instead, Hills bored Perrysburg batters in a 119-pitch complete game performance in the state championship June 4. Lakota East won the game and its first-ever state title by the score of 6-2.
“Hands down, it was the best day of my life,” senior shortstop J.D. Whetsel said of the day his team won the state championship. “Coach talked to us while we were up there and said, ‘there are not a whole lot of people who can end their baseball career with a win.’ We were able to be that handful of 12 guys who get to play their last baseball game and win it.
“To be able to hang a banner for a state championship in a team sport and to win for coach Ham (Ray Hamilton), who has been coaching for 23 years, and finally take him there and win it for (principal) Dr. Kiline, (athletic director) Mr. (Richard) Bryant, all of them – they all really deserve it. It is really cool to be the guys to bring it to them.”
Besides winning the state title, the East baseball team’s accomplishments this season include the program’s best-ever overall record (24-7), its third Greater Miami Conference title, along with sectional, district and regional titles.
East’s 2011 state championship is only the second Lakota team to win an OHSAA Division 1 State Baseball title (Lakota West 2007). East joins five other GMC schools, Hamilton (1983,1997), Fairfield (1985,1991) and Lakota West (2007) who have state baseball titles.
Head Coach Ray Hamilton earned his 374th career victory with East’s title victory.
On the following Monday, June 6, Lakota East parents, fans and state champion ballplayers filled the Hawks Nest at Lakota East High School to celebrate the school’s first state championship and to give the team’s seniors a brief graduation ceremony.