The Cincinnati Enquirer Division I Baseball Preview
Tom Groeschen reports
Lakota East coach Ray Hamilton is a classic old-school, hard-nosed baseball man who loves the game. Hamilton also got a bit choked up last year when reporters asked him about winning the Division I state title, the school’s first in a team sport. Having been a head coach for 23 years overall (including 11 years at Ross), Hamilton always will savor the memories of his first state title. Hamilton also knows he faces one of the toughest challenges in sports, trying to repeat as a champion.
“Our goals don’t change a lot,” Hamilton said. “We’re not playing for June. We just focus on the task at hand, and winning a GMC (Greater Miami Conference) championship is on top of the list.”
Lakota East won the GMC last year and finished 24-7 overall. The program lost 12 seniors but returns nine key players, and coaches again rate the Thunderhawks among the top area teams.
Senior pitcher Michael Conrad was named Enquirer Division I player of the year as a junior. The left-handed Conrad was 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA last year, with 115 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. Conrad has signed with the University of Cincinnati.
Senior outfielder Alex Corna, senior pitcher Blake Wilder and junior catcher Jarret Rindfleisch are among other top returnees for Lakota East.
The state champs will get plenty of competition from teams including Moeller, Mason, Milford, Elder and others, according to area coaches.
“On paper, Moeller is the team to beat,” Elder coach Mark Thompson said. (more…)