Every season we dish out our Golden Ticket Awards for that round of sports. First up is Dave Mast with his spring honors. We’ll also have an end of the year overall Player of the Year and also a male and female athlete of the year from each school. Paul Money’s Spring Golden Ticket awards will be release Friday night. Congrats to all the athletes, coaches, administrators and officials for another exciting season of sports in Holmes and surrounding counties.
Male Athlete of Spring
Jordan Stutzman – West Holmes Baseball
Was Stutzman as great of a talent as Yoder? No, and he would be the first to tell you that. But sometimes it is nice just to pay homage to a kid who works his way up through the system, goes to work every day with his lunch pail and makes himself a better ball player. In the process, Stutzman stepped up and made his team better, and helped them turn around a struggling season and make it all the way to district finals. As Rudy would say from the Fat Albert Show, “AC: All Class.”
Female Athlete of Spring
Amber Immel – Garaway Softball
Amber Immel is far from an imposing player. Yet, one might get a sense that she is a replica of Bugs Bunny in the famous cartoon where he plays every single position. You never knew where Immel might wind up in Dennis Koshmider’s defense, but you could be rock-solid sure where to find her in the batting order. Immel was a force at lead-off for the Lady Pirates, who again found their way to regionals. Immel was a big part of that. Always on base, always a threat to run and a supremely intelligent player, Immel showed great leadership. In many ways, she and West Holmes shortstop Cassie Thomas are carbon copies, so I am calling them 1-A and 1-B.
Best Team of Spring
Because the Hawks didn’t make it to state, I don’t think many people will recognize this team as one of the all-time greats, but they were. This pitching staff was as dominant as any I’ve ever seen. Defensively it was terrific. It wasn’t a big-hitting group, but with one timely hit in the regional final during any number of opportunities, I honestly believe it would be the Hawks’ name etched on the D-IV state trophy.
Spring Game Changer
Michelle Hostettler – West Holmes Track
It is rare to see a student-athlete pour themselves into their sport like Hostettler does. A relentless worker, Hostettler has blossomed into a force in the 1600 and 3200, and isn’t a shabby final leg in the All-Ohio Lady Knights 4×800 team either. I wish every athlete around would watch the way she approaches her practices, takes notes and follow suit. Maybe we can make a video, so people can see how to become a winner.
Spring Lifetime Achievement
Ciera Rose – West Holmes Track & Field
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” That well known phrase comes courtesy of William Shakespeare in Romeo & Juliet. Should Ciera Rose’s name be something different, she would still be that same, hard-working track hurdler that has captured a spot amongst the all-time greats at West Holmes. Although she was disappointed this year when she failed to reach the 100 meter hurdle finals, Rose was a three-time state qualifier and two-time All-Ohioan. Coach Patterson said that she is one of those self-made winners. That says all you need to know about Rose.
Spring Hustle Award
Jerrod Hunt – Garaway track
Hunt isn’t flashy, doesn’t force people to stand up and take notice, and is generally a quiet competitor. However, anyone who grabs a 15-foot pole and soars upside down more than 13 feet into the air has my respect. Hunt fashioned together quite a season in qualifying for the state track meet, where he held his own. When you’re that guy, the one running down the approach getting ready to set sail, you are on a island. Hunt held up well under the pressure and should be a really nice talent for the Pirates down the road.
Spring In Your Face Award
Seth Haun – Hiland tennis
To watch Seth Haun play tennis is to love Seth Haun playing tennis. There is nothing easy about his game plan. Haun’s approach is to hit it hard, and if he doesn’t win that point, hit the next one harder! Lighter on his feet than he looks, Haun hit some pretty amazing shots that went by opponents before they could even think about hitting them back.
Spring Good Sportsmanship Award
Andrew Rodhe – West Holmes Tennis
Quiet and unassuming, this West Holmes senior is never one to put an opponent in a bad light. In addition, he is well noted for his always-present smile on the court, something that belies his competitive nature and impressive array of tennis shots. He and partner Ethan Meyer worked their way to a state berth this year in Div. II doubles play.
Coach of the Spring
Jason Otto – West Holmes tennis
Somehow, some way, Otto managed to fashion a winning squad out of a couple of veterans and a whole slew of youth. What makes the Knights tennis season even more unimaginable is that they played down a man for much of the season, going to contests with just six instead of seven.
Play of the Spring
Kendall Borntrager’s diving catch versus Toronto
Yes, there are probably more memorable moments from this spring, and I wonder if people at this district tilt that eventually turned into a 5-1 win for Hiland even can recall the immense importance of Borntrager’s grab. At the time in the first inning, it squelched what could have been a major inning for Toronto. Instead, Borntrager went all Superman-and-all, making one of the most athletic grabs I have seen for some time.
Game of the Spring
Hiland vs. Newark Catholic regional baseball final
This was a game for the ages. I thought going nine innings last year in the Garaway girls district final tilt versus Harrison Central last year was engrossing stuff. This mammoth marathon was crazy. Full of excellent defense, outside of one monster first inning that saw both teams plate four runs, it was 11 innings of one-run ball. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it was the Green Wave that scored that lone tally to get the 5-4 win. What makes it tougher to handle is that Newark went on to handily win state 4-0 and 6-0. Regardless, this game was a masterpiece in so many ways, and a game that will not soon be forgotten.
Madison Kandel – West Holmes Track and Field
Kassidy Reidenbach – Garaway Softball
Natalie Martin – West Holmes Softball
Brayden Chaney – West Holmes Track and Field