Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 5 - Fisher Catholic


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 5 - Fisher Catholic

LANCASTER - Success this season has not surprised Lancaster Fisher Catholic head coach Jared Stewart.

Only one loss since March has Fisher Catholic standing at 14-3 record after play last week and with it the honor of being the Prep Baseball Report Division IV Team of the Week.

“We knew coming into the season that we had quite a bit of talent and could potentially have a good season,” explained Stewart, whose team lost their first two games to begin the year. “We went through our scrimmages without much of a challenge and even beat a traditionally very good Athens team with ease 11-3 in no-hit fashion. However, our heads swelled a little bit and we were humbled in a hurry in game one at Fairfield Union (11-1 in 5 innings). Our next game was a dog fight with Liberty Union in which we lost 2-1 in 8 innings.

“Starting 0-2 was not what any of the players or coaches foresaw but I think it actually was a good thing.  We saw that we weren't invincible and that we couldn't just step on the field and beat anyone we wanted.  We were going to have to battle. We used those losses as a learning experience mentally and physically.  We improved on our weaknesses and built on our strengths, all while believing we still had a long season ahead of us.”

The result has been 14 wins in the last 15 games prior to this week, including a 1-0 win over DeSales last Thursday.

“What has stood out is the calmness of this team,” noted Stewart, whose squad added Grove City Christian to the win total on Monday with a 12-1 five-inning victory. “We have been in four extra-inning games (winning three) and we have been down in several games and this team stays calm and resilient and continues to battle.”

Stewart pointed to pitching and defense as surprises thus far.

“Our team ERA is 2.166 and we have two guys with ERAs below one,” Stewart said. “We’ve only given up 43 total runs in 18 games and we have scored 162. Our pitchers have been outstanding so far. We have four guys whom we’ve been able to spread the innings out which has helped us tremendously.”

Nick Krooner is 3-0 with a 0.488 ERA while Chase Springer stands 3-1 with a 0.73 ERA pitching in most big games for Fisher Catholic, the lone defeat coming in a 2-1 eight-inning loss to Liberty Union.

Krooner, the 34th-rated senior outfielder in Ohio and a Marymount University commit, has been a major contributor with his defense in center field while hitting .492 with 19 RBIs. Mitchell Santino, a senior committed to Rio Grande, is another plus on the D at catcher.

“He isn’t having the kind of offensive year that he would hope for, but his work behind the plate has been phenomenal,” Stewart said. “He blocks everything which gives our pitchers confidence to mix up their pitches in any count. He also has such a quick release and strong arm that teams think twice about running on him.”

Aidan Harris has been a big addition to the team after missing five games with an emergency surgery for appendicitis.

“In his first game back just two weeks after his surgery, Harris was on base four times with a walk, HBP, and two hits including the game-winner in the eighth inning to drive home the winning run,” noted Stewart, who is closing in on 100 overall wins as a head coach after starting this season at 79-76.

Riding a 36-game Mid-State League Cardinal Division winning streak, Fisher Catholic can wrap up a title this week.

“Honestly, I had high expectations for this team,” Stewart said. “Having lost out on the 2020 season not many people knew what to expect from my team. The 2019 team was loaded with seniors and the 2020 team had only one senior, so varsity experience was lacking with this team. Couple that with a limited roster (13 total players in the program) and nobody thought we would be any good. But since I took this job prior to the 2020 non-season, I knew we had something special. We have several players who play high-level travel baseball all summer and fall and we knew that experience would be beneficial to us.”

Now Stewart is thinking about even more from a program which has not won a district title since 2005, a year the Irish lost to Gibsonburg in the state championship game.

“The key has been getting the team to just BELIEVE they can win big games,” Stewart said about this year’s success. “In 2019 the team went 12-0 in league play but 5-11 in non-league play and they haven't won a district title since 2005, losing almost every year to Newark Catholic.

“Prior to our first game I invited coach Nate Conrad (former coach who led the Irish to the state tournament in 2003 and 2005) and one of his players, Tyler Welch, to speak to the team. Coach Conrad asked the boys a simple question, ‘How many of you believe you can win a state championship?  Stand up if you believe you can.’ At that point one player (Nick Krooner) stood up immediately without hesitation while some others looked around and slowly started to stand up.

“Coach Conrad told the team that every single person should have jumped up with that one player who didn't hesitate.” Stewart continued. “He said if you don't believe you can win a state title then it will never happen. If you don't believe you can beat Newark Catholic then it will never happen. He said there have been more talented teams at Fisher Catholic than the ones he had in 2003 and 2005 but the difference was he had a group of players who believed in each other and believed they could win it all. Coach Conrad's words have stuck with the team throughout the season and has been a constant reminder.”

A Look Back At What Would've Been The 2020 Season:

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A Look Back At The Last Decade:

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A Look Back At The 2018 Season:

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A Look Back At The 2017 Season:

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