Baseball: 11 players to watch this season

Apr. 2—LIMA — Baseball season is well underway despite several weather cancellations, and the showcase of area talent on the diamond is already on full display.

With conference play set to get going this week, let's take a look at some players to watch as the season heats up.

Grant Jolly (SS/RHP) and Taylor Echols (RHP/SS) of Wapakoneta

Wapakoneta has perhaps the most formidable one-two punch in the area between Grant Jolly and Taylor Echols.

Jolly, the 2023 WBL Player of the Year, has picked up right where he left off last season as a two-way threat for the Redskins. In four games, he has four hits, four RBI and a home run, while making two appearances on the mound, throwing seven scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts.

Echols, a 2023 WBL first-teamer, is 6 of 12 at the plate in his four starts with six RBI. He's 1-1 on the mound, allowing two earned runs in six innings and recording 13 strikeouts along the way.

Both players are committed to playing baseball at the next level, Echols at Miami University in Oxford, and Jolly at North Carolina State.

Billy Bourk (RHP/1B) of LCC

Speaking of college athletes, Billy Bourk of LCC definitely meets that criteria after announcing his intentions to play both baseball and football at Adrian College next year.

Bourk, fresh off the T-Birds' run to the state basketball tournament, fared well in his team's season-opening win over Lima Senior last week with a pair of hits, one RBI and a stolen base out of the cleanup spot in the lineup.

As one of LCC's top arms, Bourk's pitching arsenal includes a fastball that sits 83-85 mph and two offspeed pitches, a changeup and a 67-72 mph curveball.

Skyler Lhamon (RHP/OF) of Bath

Skyler Lhamon bats out of the leadoff spot for Bath. In four games this season, he's hit .250 with one RBI and a pair of stolen bases.

Lhamon and the Wildcats are 2-2 with a 9-7 win over Waynes Trace, a 10-3 victory against Allen East and losses to Bellefontaine and Liberty-Benton.

Lhamon, an Olney Central Junior College commit, forms a solid first three hitters in the order with a pair of future college athletes in Tyson McGee, a Terra State Community College commit and Quintin Collins, who's set to join the baseball team at Madonna University.

Jackson Thomspon (C/3B/RHP) of Allen East

As a freshman, Jackson Thomson was named to the NWC's second team. Through four games this year, he's turned that positive momentum into a strong start for the 2-2 Mustangs.

In three starts behind the plate, Thomson has thrown out five base runners in 11 attempts, while allowing just two passed balls.

He got the start against Arlington on March 28 and went 6 2/3 innings, allowed two unearned runs on three hits and struck out 12 batters to pick up the win.

Thomspon, who bats in the three-hole for Allen East, has four hits, two RBI and four runs scored in eight at-bats.

Jarron Swick (RHP/OF) of Fort Jennings

Swick earned a nod to the Putnam County League's first team in 2023 along with teammate Bryce Gasser.

Coming off an all-state season on the basketball court, Swick has gotten off to a bit of a slow start on the field with a batting average of .182 and a loss on the mound in three innings pitched against Miller City.

The good news for Swick is that Gasser is batting .385, Carson Gilchriest is hitting .357 with a home run and six RBI and Owen Cavelage sports a .444 average in a deep lineup for the Musketeers.

In the cleanup spot, Swick should benefit from his teammates' fast starts and see plenty of opportunities to drive in runs with Cavelage, Gilchriest and Gasser in front of him in the batting order.

Quin Schroeder (C/UTIL) of Leipsic

Quin Schoeder is the only player on this list to earn first-team honors in two leagues, the Northwest Conference and the Putnam County League.

The 5-9 catcher/utility infielder is committed to playing football next season at Ohio Wesleyan University, but he's equally as important to the Vikings on the diamond.

Out of the leadoff spot, Schroeder has hits in each of Leipsic's first two games, a pair of runaway victories over Hardin Northern and Continental. He's also 2 for 2 in stolen base attempts.

Brent Koenig (OF/RHP) of Miller City

Koenig is a three-year starter for the Wildcats. He's a member of the Putnam County League's first team and he leads a highly experienced group for Miller City this season that also includes three-year starters Ethan Barlage, Brendan Barlage and PCL second-teamer Carson Lehman.

Koenig hit .340 at the plate in 2023 and he bats out of the leadoff spot for the Wildcats, followed by Lehman and Brendan Barlage in the top three.

Koenig has just one hit in three games so far this season, but he pitched Miller City to a 10-2 win over Fort Jennings after limiting the Musketeers to a pair of unearned runs on four hits.

Hunter Scott (1B/LHP) and Brady Shively (INF/RHP) of Perry

Both Hunter Scott and Brady Shively were Northwest Central Conference first-teamers in 2023.

Shively mans the shortstop position and bats out of the leadoff spot for the Commodores. During his team's 3-0 start, Shively has set the tone on offense, batting .333 with four runs, three stolen bases and one RBI.

Scott is Perry's top arm, and he's backed up that notion with nine innings over two appearances where he's limited opponents to one unearned run ad struck out 17 batters.

Scott also hits cleanup win the order behind Shively, Marcus Hill and Brody Douce.

Cameron Elwer (SS/RHP) of Delphos St. John's

As impressive as Cameron Elwer is on the basketball court, his talent on the diamond also stands out above others.

A stellar freshman campaign where he batted .351 and recorded a team-high six wins on the mound earned him a first-team all-MAC selection.

He has yet to get going this season due to an injury sustained at the end of basketball season, but once he's healthy, he'll bat in the top half of the order for the Blue Jays and serve as one of their top arms in the rotation.

Reach Chris Howell at 567-242-0468 or on Twitter at @Lima_Howell