Prep Baseball Report

Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 1 and 2 - Lucasville Valley

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

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Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 1 and 2 - Lucasville Valley

LUCASVILLE - With the one-two pitching punch back from last year’s state Final Four team, Lucasville Valley is looking for big things this season. The Indians have lived up to the expectations in the early going this year and are the Prep Baseball Report Division IV Team of the Week.

“Our strength is definitely pitching and defense,” noted head coach Nolan Crabtree, whose team entered this week at 5-0 on the season and is ranked number one in the state in D-IV. “Last year in 24 games we gave up three runs or less and in the stretch to make the state tournament we only had one error in our last 11 games.”

That type of play has continued, highlighted by a 6-5 nine-inning victory over Minford in game two this season, a team which beat Lucasville Valley twice in extra innings a season ago.

“It’s a huge rivalry and always a battle,” Crabtree said of the matchup with Minford, which returned seven starters from a regional participant in 2021.

Trailing 5-4 heading to the last of the ninth, Lucasville Valley got a leadoff single from Jaekyn Rideout, who moved to third on a wild pickoff attempt. An infield single and intentional walk loaded the bases before Chris Quinn hit a two-run double to center for the win.

“Our guys realize how good they can be,” Crabtree said of how making it to state is having an affect on this year’s squad. “It’s not just a pipedream, they know they can compete and win a state title.

“Last year we had mostly sophomores and one junior starting. Our confidence built along the way and that carried over to the tournament. This year they’re knowing what they’re capable of and expecting to do a good job. They’re battling to live up to the expectations.”

Better hitting than a year ago is helping the cause according to the seventh-year head coach, who took over for Hall of Fame coach Dean Schuler.

“Two of the biggest things that’s helped are returning players Chase Morrow and Hunter Edwards,” pointed out Crabtree.

Morrow, a senior left fielder, is hitting .562 with a 1.275 OPS while Edwards, a junior right fielder who threw a runner out at the plate and had a double in the seventh inning of a 2-1 state semifinal loss to Lincolnview last year, is averaging .385 with a .991 OPS.

Junior DH Chris Queen, with seven RBIs and a .294 average, is another top producer on a team that is getting big production from a pair of freshmen, Tate Queen (no relation to Chris) and Rideout. A third baseman, Queen is batting .500 with a 1.238 OPS and nine RBIs hitting in the three-hole while Rideout, a shortstop/outfielder depending on who is pitching, is averaging .357 with four stolen bases.

But it is pitching that stands out for the Indians, in particular two juniors, George Arnett and Carter Nickel.

Arnett, who went the distance in the state semifinals last season, threw in the win over Minford and stands at 2-0. Arnett, who is batting .400 and plays short when not pitching, was also the winning pitcher in a 12-6 victory over Portsmouth West this year.

Nickel, who beat Berlin Hiland in the regionals last season, is currently 3-0. Nickel went six innings and combined with Chris Queen on a two-hitter in a 6-0 win over McDermitt Northwest in the season opener. Nickel, who plays center field when not on the mound, also went four innings in a 13-2 run-rule victory over South Webster and threw two shutout innings in a 12-0 beating of Eastern Pike.

The Indians have a big week ahead in league play with games Wednesday and Friday versus Wheelersburg in a matchup of the lone league unbeatens.

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