MOUNT VERNON — Area high school baseball and softball teams learned their postseason fate on Monday, and several were recognized for their efforts this season. Two area teams — the Fredericktown Freddies baseball squad and the Danville Blue Devils softball squad — were seeded No. 1 in their respective divisions.
Fredericktown (21-4) earned the No. 1 seed in Division III and will have a first-round bye. When the Freddies do see action on Thursday, May 13, it will be against the winner of River Valley and Bishop Ready.
“Anytime you are recognized as the No. 1 seed in the Central District in a division as tough as Division III is, it is a tremendous honor,” said Fredericktown coach Matt Smith. “Obviously, it is a feather in the cap of our program. These kids have done a tremendous job and put us in this situation. Other coaches in the district understand what we’ve been able to accomplish so far this year.
“I think we were worthy of the No. 1 seed. How teams ranked us showed that. We were the No. 1 seed for 19 of the 23 teams in the district, which speaks volumes. Having the most wins in the Central District in Division III certainly helped. Plus our level of competition that we play was good. We tried to play the best competition we could.”
Danville (17-7) was the No. 1 seed in Division IV, garnering 15 of the 16 first-place votes cast. Tree of Life received the other first-place nod. Getting the No. 1 seed is a big accomplishment for the Blue Devils, who won the 2008 State Tournament.
“This is awesome; it is a big honor,” said Danville coach Maryellyn Matheny. “It was a surprise when we kept getting voted No. 1. I feel very fortunate.”
Both the Mount Vernon baseball and softball teams were seeded in the top 10. The baseball Jackets (23-2) were the No. 5 seed in Division I, and will play in the middle bracket. Mount Vernon has a first-round bye, and will host the winner of No. 11 seed Tri-Valley and Central Crossing on Wednesday, May 12.
The softball Jackets earned the No. 10 seed, and they too took a Division I first-round bye. Mount Vernon (15-4) will host the winner of No. 12 seed Bishop Watterson and No. 37 seed Brookhaven on Wednesday, May 12.
Also earning top 10 seeds were the Highland Scots baseball and softball teams. The No. 6 seeded Highland baseball team will compete in Division II, and has a first-round bye. Highland will face either Hamilton Township or Licking Valley in the sectional final on Thursday, May 13 in Sparta.
The Highland softball team was seeded fifth in Division III, and will also have a first-round bye. The Scots had a second-round home date against either No. 11 seed London or No. 21 seed Grandview Heights.
Also in Division III softball action, Centerburg (No. 24 seed) will travel to No. 8 Fairbanks in the first round; No. 19 East Knox is at No. 7 Mount Gilead; and No. 17 Utica will travel to No. 15 Elgin. All of the games will be played on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
For the first time in several years, the Fredericktown softball team will compete in Division IV. The No. 7 seeded Freddies have a first-round home game against Fairfield Christian Academy (No. 13) on Monday at 5:30 p.m.
The Danville Blue Devils will host No. 16 seed Marion Catholic in the first round on Monday, and then face a second-round matchup with either No. 10 Madison Christian or No. 11 Gahanna Christian.
“The bracket worked in our favor as far as we won’t face any high seeds until we get to the district semifinals,” said Matheny. “The bad part about it is that we start against Marion Catholic, who is 0-6. They’ve only played six games, so it is hard to get better when you haven’t played much. The strongest teams in the upper part of the bracket are Tree of Life and Fisher Catholic. Newark Catholic, Millersport and Fredericktown are all in the lower part of the bracket, and I think we will see one of those three in the district final.
“It is hard to prepare for a team when you know they are not very strong and don’t have very good pitching,” added Matheny. “Your timing is usually way off, and then you have to face teams with good pitching. It can really throw you; it is an adjustment.”
In Division III baseball action, Utica, Centerburg and East Knox each drew a first-round home game. The Redskins will host Northridge; Centerburg hosts Amanda-Clearcreek; and East Knox brings West Jefferson to town. All three games are on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The Freddies won’t be taking anyone lightly. After winning the Mid-Buckeye Conference with a perfect 14-0 mark, Smith believes his squad is ready for whomever it faces. Having the first-round bye simply worked into their favor.
“To win a district title, you are going to have to play some great teams,” said Smith. “In our bracket, it is strong and we have quality opponents. It starts with the winner of River Valley and Bishop Ready. In the tournament, you can throw the records out. Whoever is playing the best will win.
“I think (the bye) is very vital to be able to position you pitching the way you want it. We’ve also played 12 games in the last two weeks, so it is kind of nice to have some time to work on some things and get the kids back into some of the fundamentals that you don’t get to with playing every day.”
In Division IV, the Danville baseball team completed the area sweep of home games. The Blue Devils will host Millersport on Monday at 5 p.m.