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Middies thinking big: Eric Lauer, Cody Callaway feature the best 1-2 pitching combo in area
MORNING JOURNAL FILE PHOTO Midview’s Cody Callaway, from his shortstop position, scoops up a ground ball against Vermilion last season.
For the past couple of years, the Middies have been building towards this season. Last year wasn’t bad at all with the Middies winning the West Shore Conference and reaching the district semifinals. But they are looking to get even better and farther.
“This year is the most anticipated year since I have heard of in a while,” Midview senior Tyler Stephenson said. “I’m excited to see what we can do this year. We have to play together and stay strong.”
One of the main reasons why the Middies can hardly wait for the season to start is their pitching. Leading the way is senior Eric Lauer. The Kent State University recruit was outstanding last season. He was 5-2 with a slim 1.13 ERA with 103 strikeouts in just 49 2/3 innings to earn All-Ohio honors.
Lauer isn’t just a pitcher. He batted .370 with five home runs and 27 RBIs. Teams who don’t face Lauer probably will see junior Cody Callaway. Callaway was 5-1 with a 2.37 ERA. Four other players, who all throw over 80 mph, solidifies Midview’s depth.
With two of the area’s best arms and having nine seniors on the roster, new coach Scott Jalowiec takes over an experienced and talented team. When he was given a chance to coach the team, he didn’t hesitate.
“Our pitching is going to be strong,” Jalowiec said. “We go six guys deep and we have our whole infield coming back. This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with this group. These kids have been playing together since they were 6-7 years old.”
With the pitching staff in place, getting good at-bats has been a priority at practice for the Middies. Jalowiec, who played at Ashland and holds several offensive records, is making sure they improve in the batter’s box. Last season, he felt there were too many strikeouts by them.
“We haven’t had too hot of a hitting team the past couple of years,” Lauer said. “I don’t know why ... maybe we don’t see the ball. But we haven’t hit the ball as well as we should have.
“He (Jalowiec) is more of a hitting coach. He knows what he is doing to help us improve.”
Along with the hitting, Jalowiec has been working on making sure the mental aspect of the game is taken care of. Whether it is putting them in the cage with a 1-1 count or what play needs to be made in the field; he wants to make sure his team is prepared for everything.
“A lot of baseball is mental,” he said. “Everyone can run or throw fast, but it is the little things which will help you win games. They have played with each other a long time, but I want them to be ready mentally and communicate better with each other.”
Being prepared physically and mentally is just part of the whole picture for Midview, it is also the maturation they have experienced from last season to this one. Knowing this is their last opportunity, they have a sense of urgency and single-mindedness to get what they want to achieve. Seeing Westlake, who defeated Midview in the district semifinals, have a magical run in the post-season allows the Middies know it is possible.
“After seeing what they (Westlake) did last year,” senior Brett Gerbec said, “we really saw how far a team can go.”
To help the preparation in all aspects is a daunting non-conference schedule which includes the likes of St. Ignatius and Mansfield Madison along with future Southwestern Conference foes Amherst and Avon Lake.
With all the preparation, the Middies know it all comes down to them.
“We have to play with heart,” Stephenson said. “Being seniors gives us an extra edge on the field.”
Last Updated: 3/30/2013 9:29:53 PM EST