Chemistry sparks Northwood (05-29-13)
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 08:27
NORTHWOOD - Northwood coach Dave Russell is the first to say his team may not be the most talented in Division IV baseball. But when it comes to team chemistry, Russell would put his guys up against any team in the state.
|Evan Perkins (22), and Northwood celebrate their district semifinal win over North Baltimore. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
It's that chemistry - the type where the seniors don't make the freshman carry their equipment bags and the guys meet up for a game of tennis court baseball for fun - that has propelled Northwood to the regional semifinals.
"It all goes back to chemistry. Even though we aren't the best team out there, we play as one," said senior Nick Russell.
But coming together as a team and getting to regionals has been a bumpy road.
The Rangers, after returning its core group of starters from a team that went 17-9 last season, started off 2-7.
"We got a little ahead of ourselves, which is probably pretty common when you have a veteran group like this," Dave Russell said.
To add to that, the team struggled with some player issues to begin the season.
"We turned a corner then and got rid of some of the distractions. We started playing baseball like we know how to do," the elder Russell said.
After the rough start, Russell turned the season over to his six seniors. From that point on, the change in team dynamics, leadership and work ethic was immediate.
"The junior varsity guys really look up to the seniors. The seniors will go to a JV practice and help them out," he said.
"They aren't the type of kids who make the freshmen carry the equipment. They carry it themselves."
Many of the seniors have been playing together since T-ball.
"And I've had the pleasure of coaching all but one of them since they were six years old," Russell said. "They are basically like my own kids. It's going to be rough losing them. That's another reason we want to keep this going."
"We have been going game-by-game and giving everything to each game," Russell added.
The Rangers (17-10) play Delphos St. John's Thursday at Patrick Henry High School starting at 2 p.m.
Scouting Delphos St. John's, Russell expects their ace, Curtis Geise, to be on the mound. He throws hard and has a good curveball.
"They are solid one through nine. They put the ball in play and we are going to have to play well to beat them," he said.
Nick Russell will get the start on Thursday for Northwood. Russell is 6-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
Northwood also boats a solid lineup of its own with five players batting .350 or above: Nick Russell had led the way with a. 506 batting average (44 hits, 39 runs scored, six home runs, 38 RBI and 10 stolen bases); John Segura is batting .427 (38 hits, 31 runs, a home run, 20 RBI); Rohrs, .395 (38 hits, 23 runs, four home runs, 28 RBI); Myles Habel, .392 (31 hits, 15 runs, 13 RBI); and Evan Perkins, .353 (30 hits, 28 runs, 13 RBI and nine stolen bases).
Russell, Segura and Rohrs have consistently been top hitters for Northwood all season.
Perkins, however, "has really stepped up his game the second half of the season," the coach said.
Habel, who was the junior varsity catcher last season, worked hard in the off-season to become the starting varsity catcher.
"He has been the real difference maker," Russell said. "The catching spot for us has been huge. I can't say enough about Myles."