Leadership will be key for another Comet state run
Matthew Smith | Staff Writer
Unifnished business. That’s how senior slugger J.P. Sponseller feels after coming up short a season ago in the state final four.
With the team ready to kick off the 2019 season, the Comets have some big shoes to fill from a season ago but a roster of talented players are ready to step into that leadership role to help the Comets continue their climb.
“Even with all the success last year, we didn’t achieve what we ultimately wanted to achieve,” said Sponseller. “We’ve been paying attention to everything we didn’t do right last year to fix those things, and now we’re looking to go win a state title this year.”
Even though last year’s seniors are gone, there’s still is a lot of experience returning from 2018. Head coach Curt Bly said that last year’s final four run can be beneficial to the returning players, but it won’t define the team.
“From an experience standpoint, it certainly will help to know what it takes to go far (in the tournament),” said Bly. “But this year’s team will have to find their own identity. They can’t rely on last year’s success to just carry over.”
With a lot of success for this team, there comes a lot of expectations right with it. Sponseller said that even with high expectations the team doesn’t feel any pressure to repeat the outcomes.
“I don’t feel any pressure to be as good as we were (last year),” said Sponseller. “I feel a lot of excitement and positive energy from the team, and I know we’ll have the city supporting us as we give it one last shot.”
Coming into 2019, the team has to replace the likes of Boston Red Sox draft pick Nick Northcut, Ohio State bound Will Pfennig and several players who dot college rosters across the midwest. Sponseller, an Elon University commit believes the key component to another successful season is leadership and he hopes to step into that role vacated by last year’s talented group of seniors.
“Leadership is always important,” said Sponseller. “Last year the senior leadership was phenomenal, and this year I’m looking to step into that role in order to give the team the best chance to win.”
The Comets concluded last season with 26 wins and a Greater Miami Conference championship. Once gain the league promises to be deep but the Comets are also going to challenge themselves with a tough non conference schedule that includes the likes of Centerville, LaSalle and a trip to Tennessee to face some of the Volunteer state’s top baseball programs.
The Comets should have an explosive offense with University of Cincinnati commit Cole Harting, U.C. commit Joe Powell, and Ohio University commit Harrison Johnson but as with all successful teams it’s going to come down to pitching.
When Bly goes to make his rosters he’ll be looking for pitchers Evan Kemp, Dade Hensley, Kenyon Abbot, and AJ Kraus to throw strikes and keep opponent’s hitters at bay.
“I don’t think we have much time before the season starts, it’s very very limited,” said Bly. “We’re trying to get our arms ready and get our timing down. We have a lot of things we need to install, and we need to take advantage of the time that we do have.”
Photo by Tanner Pearson.