For some players, being named first-team all-state by the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association is a nice footnote to their high school careers as they head to college to play at the next level.
For others, it’s a final honor as the curtain closes on their competitive baseball careers.
For Lake Ridge Academy’s Jack Spellman, earning Division IV first-team honors got him thinking about what could have been.
Spellman is headed to the University of Michigan to study in one of the top chemistry programs. However, after hitting .692 for the Royals this year, he wonders if maybe he didn’t give baseball enough of a chance.
“I’ve always put academics before athletics,” Spellman said. “This season was a little bittersweet because after making All-Ohio it got me thinking about what
I could have done if I would have taken baseball more seriously earlier in high school.
“What if I would have worked hard during the offseason when I was a freshman, sophomore and junior? I worked, but definitely could have worked harder.
“I know the level of competition at a Division I school like Michigan is really high, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship … but could I have walked on?”
Spellman came a long way this season. The outfielder started the year with just one hit in his first six at-bats before making some changes. Once he did, the hits kept coming.
“At first I was trying to swing for the fences every time I was up,” he said. “After I changed my approach and tried to just make contact the hits started falling in and the power actually fell into place.”
Spellman had 36 hits in 52 at-bats with 17 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. He only struck out three times all season.
“This means a lot,” Spellman said of earning first-team honors. “I put in a lot of work during the offseason and this was really rewarding.”
Avon Lake’s Brad Hamilton has always worked hard, and a baseball scholarship to Kent State University is his reward for a superior high school career. The 6-foot-3 catcher hit .544 this season in earning first-team Division I honors.
Hamilton, whose brother, Nick, played at Kent State and was drafted by the Indians, credited his offseason work for this year’s success.
“The off-season is critical for any player to get better,” Hamilton said. “I played basketball at Avon Lake, but every time I got the chance I would work to become a better baseball player. It takes a lot of work in the offseason.”
Hamilton enjoyed his time as a Shoreman.
“It meant the world to me to be a part of the Avon Lake program this season,” he said. “We had a great year and it was a fun ride. I’m proud to have been a part of this program and represent my community, with my teammates, as well as I could. And I enjoyed every second of it.”
The unassuming player didn’t even know he made All-Ohio.
“Wow, that’s a big honor,” he said when informed of the honor. “I’m really humbled because I could not have gotten here without the coaching staff and my teammates. I’m very thrilled and very blessed.”
Keystone’s Tyler Gullett was named first team in Division II for the second consecutive year. Gullett, who will play at The University of Toledo next season, said he got a lot of help along the way.
“I have to thank my parents for pointing me in the right direction, and for paying for summer ball,” he said. “I also want to thank my teammates and coaches at Keystone, who were always very supportive and taught me a lot. Also Mark Fables, my trainer, who helped me to develop more power in my swing.”
Gullett said he will miss some of the local competition when he moves on to Toledo … especially going up against Kent State recruit Eli Kraus from Buckeye.
“My best memories from high school will be going up against Kraus,” Gullett said. “He’s a great pitcher and we got to go against him twice this season. He’s going to Kent and since I am going to a Mid-American Conference school it’s good to have a book on him.”
Elyria’s Jacob Csizmadia, Midview’s Cody Callaway, Amherst’s Justin Mott and Westlake’s Kent Axcell made second team in Division I, while Elyria Catholic’s Joey Begany was a second-team pick in Division II.
Honorable-mention honors went to Olmsted Falls’ Ryan Hanna in Division I, Keystone’s Kendle Stiner in Division II and Elyria Catholic’s Lukas Redmond in Division III.