Division III Team Of The Week: Week 7 - CHCA

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/NW Scout

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Division III Team Of The Week: Week 7 - CHCA

CINCINNATI - With most of the team back from a state championship season in 2021, expectations were at an all-time high at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.

The Eagles have more than lived up to the forecast many gave before to them before the season with a 21-1 record, including a win over Division I state-ranked Centerville and a sweep of Norwood to earn honors as the Prep Baseball Report Division III Team of the Week.

“Our guys are embracing the target-on-the-back type role,” admitted CHCA head coach Tony Schulz. “They’re literally taking it one game at a time and not worrying about their record, the tournament or even last year.”

A 4-1 victory over Centerville made a statement for the top-ranked team in Ohio in D-III.

“Centerville is a really good win for us,” Schulz said. “It was a gritty win. Offensively, we had timely hits and our pitching was awesome.”

Cooper Robinson went four innings with Parker Hon coming on in relief before Joey Shafer recorded his fifth save of the season.

Robinson, the winning pitcher in the state championship game win over Archbold last season, is part of a big three pitching rotation for CHCA, with the senior Butler commit 6-0 on the year with a 0.98 ERA, recording 47 strikeouts. Will Murphy, a Depauw University recruit, is 4-0 with 30 Ks and a 0.80 ERA while Colin Ames, a Gulf Coast College signee who has been part of two no-hitters this season - one alone and the other shared with Brice Laudick and Shafer - is 5-0 with 48 strikeouts and a 1.24 ERA.

“A big difference about this team from last year, and we have a lot of pitching back, is that the offense has improved notably compared to last year,” Schulz pointed out. “They’ve made a lot of strides and we’re scoring a lot more runs. Our offense and our power numbers are up and we’ve had timely hitting. That’s the biggest difference for us.”

Amazingly, the first time CHCA did not score first in a game this season came last week in a 19-12 win over Norwood. The Eagles, whose lone defeat of the year was 12-6 to Badin in game three, defeated Norwood 9-2 in the other league matchup last week.

“I like their mindset right now,” Schulz said of his squad, which has a tournament game on Wednesday this week against North College Hill. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side … Centerville, Badin, Moeller - who we play this Saturday - or Norwood - who is last in our league. We haven’t had that trap game. They know they have to play against the game of baseball, respect it and play your game.”

Jack Vogele, a Cincinnati commit who Schulz believes is a Player of the Year candidate in Ohio, is batting .587 with 10 doubles, 10 triples, five home runs, 24 RBIs and a .644 on-base percentage batting leadoff for CHCA.

Another outfielder, junior Jonathan Russell, has a .480 average with five doubles, four triples and a grand slam to go along with a team-high 32 RBIs. Senior Ty Yelton is hitting .484  with six doubles, two triples and an inside-the-park home run while not committing an error at shortstop.

“The key for us is understanding that tournament baseball is much different than the regular season,” Schulz related. “You’re going to get their best pitcher. Nobody wants to go home, whether they’re a 21 seed or a one seed.

“Last year in the district final against Brookville they were a surprise team to even get out of sectionals and we trailed them in the sixth inning before getting a walk-off in the seventh. The tournament adds a whole new element to the game. Every pitch matters.”

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