Matt Loescher called Preston Phillips a five-tool player back in the preseason, and we printed the Open Door coach`s assessment of Phillips in our baseball preview.
“Someone said to me, â€˜Are you sure (the reporter) didn`t misunderstand you?`” Loescher said. “Was â€˜a 5-2 player` what you really said?”
OK, Phillips isn`t very tall. He is, in fact, 5-foot-3. But Loescher said “five-tool” and 14 games into the season there has been nothing to make him want to retract that.
“Preston is an outstanding young man,” Loescher said. “He`s a great student and a three-sport star. He`s an excellent soccer player, and by the middle of the basketball season he was playing point guard. Height doesn`t limit him in any sport.”
Nor age. Phillips is a freshman, yet he has emerged as a leader for the 8-6 Patriots. He`s been the shot of Red Bull his team has needed, according to the coach.
“It doesn`t sound right calling a freshman a team leader,” Loescher said. “But Preston is one. He wants to win and he approaches everything with a great attitude. He doesn`t feel overpowered in any situation. The seniors have taken notice.
“We graduated nine players from last year. I thought this will be one of those years where we take it on the nose. But here we are sitting at 8-6 and we`re the No. 2-seeded team in the (Akron) district. A lot of that has to do with the work ethic Preston brings.”
Statistics don`t lie. Phillips is hitting .486 with a .642 on-base average. He has 11 runs batted in and is 9-for-9 in stolen bases. He has 12 walks, five extra-base hits and has committed only one error playing shortstop and second base.
Phillips began the season batting leadoff, but was switched to the No. 3 spot in the order in an effort to generate more runs.
“We were .500,” Loescher said. “The change in the team started when we moved Preston to the 3-hole, and when we moved him from second to short.”
Open Door begins Division IV sectional play Thursday at 4:30 against the winner of today`s Oberlin-Kidron Central Christian game at Kidron. The site of Thursday`s game is to be determined.
Under the radar
Phillips isn`t the only Lorain County freshman having a banner year.
Clay Wright has been a pleasant addition to the Wellington Dukes this spring. He`s just a couple of official at-bats short of being listed among the area`s statistical leaders, having just 33 as of Sunday. But he had played in 15 games and had made 55 plate appearances, having reached base 39 times.
Wright led the 10-8 Dukes in batting (.455), on-base average (.667), walks (18), doubles (six), slugging average (.697) and times hit by pitches (three). He was second in total bases (23), tied for second in runs (17) and hits (15), third in stolen bases (six) and tied for third in RBIs (13).
Yet another one
Vermilion has been like a finishing school for left-handed high school pitchers. The Sailors have produced a boatload of them, and Cory Fox looks like the next in line.
Fox, a sophomore, got his first varsity victory Saturday when first-place Vermilion topped West Shore Conference rival North Ridgeville.
Fox allowed no runs and three hits over five innings. He is 1-0 with a 2.00 earned run average and 18 strikeouts in 171/3 innings.
Tyler Mazzei has been one of the few bright spots in a subpar season for Admiral King. The Admirals were 4-12 as of Sunday, but Mazzei, a junior shortstop-pitcher, was hitting .349 (15-of-43).
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Player of the week
Paul Kubuski, Elyria Catholic
POSITIONS: Pitcher-first base
LAST WEEK: Struck out 15 in a six-hit shutout of North Coast League rival Villa Angela-St. Joseph. Kubuski walked two as the Panthers improved to 4-3 in the NCL.
OTHER SPORT: Basketball
FREE TIME: Enjoys hunting – all game. “Deer, rabbit, squirrel – it doesn`t matter what, I`ll hunt it.” Other than that he enjoys the company of friends and his brothers (older brother Ben and younger brother and EC teammate Andrew).
SUMMER TEAM: Midview Hot Stove
FUTURE PLANS: Will attend Lorain County Community College next year. Isn`t sure what he`ll study or whether he will play for the baseball team. “I`m just looking forward to going to college and making a fresh start.”
PARENTS: Tom and Marti