A.J. Ewing couldn’t shake the thought of going south after high school.
Before the start of his freshman season on the Springboro baseball team he committed to Wright State. But two years later, in the early spring of 2022, he changed his mind. He didn’t know where he would go to college, but his goal was the Southeastern Conference. A month later, a few games into his junior season, Ewing committed to Alabama.
“I did not know where I wanted to go,” he said. “I just knew I wanted to go on a bigger stage, see better competition. They were one of the first teams to reach out, and I could tell that they really wanted me there and they think I can make an impact early on.”
An unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa sealed Ewing’s decision.
“The first time I went down there, when I walked in the locker room, saw the guys there, it looked like they wanted to be nowhere else except in that locker room,” he said. “That’s what stood out to me.”
Springboro coach Mark Pelfrey, who has led the program since 1994, sees all the things in his shortstop that Alabama does.
“He’s a hard worker, he’s very athletic, all the tools are there, runs extremely well, he’s got a plus arm, and his hit tool is really his calling card,” Pelfrey said. “He always thought that was possible. He always wants to challenge himself as much as he can. And he thought going to an SEC school was going to give him a bigger challenge.”
Ewing is rated the No. 3 prospect in Ohio by Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. Perfect Game ranks him No. 53 nationally and PBR ranks him No. 107. The 20-round Major League Baseball draft July 17-19 could also be a factor in Ewing’s future.
“I’m hearing good things from the scouts. They’re showing up to the games,” Ewing said. “I can tell there’s a little bit of buzz there. It all comes down to what I think the right decision in the moment is. I know I’ve got two great options either way I go.”
GWOC: Springboro, Centerville and Miamisburg figure to battle for the league crown as they did last year.
“We’re hopeful,” Pelfrey said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out. But we think we have some pieces that give us a chance to be competitive this year.”
Ewing and his teammates want to duplicate what the 2019 team did when it went to state.
“If that’s not the goal for the team, then you don’t have the right goals,” he said. “If you’re not shooting all the way, then you’re going to fall short.
“We’re a really offensively advanced lineup. Everyone in our lineup one through nine is able to go over the fence. We’re not a station to station team. We’re going to hit a lot of extra-base hits and get guys moving.”
The Panthers have a strong 1-2 starting pitcher punch with juniors Luke Burroughs and Joseph Mossbarger. Centerville has four regulars back and four experienced pitchers led by shortstop/pitcher Nic Bruder. Miamisburg is led by catcher Nathan Ennis, pitcher/infielder Teagan Williams and outfielder/pitcher Preston Barr. Beavercreek is young, Farimont has experience and Wayne made progress last year with a young team.
Lebanon star: Pitcher Colton Hartman is PBR’s No. 2 player in Ohio and headed to Louisville. Hartman’s fastball is in the mid-90s. He threw 61 innings last spring, struck out 114 and compiled a 1.61 ERA. The Warriors, ranked No. 15 in the coaches preseason Division I poll, are an experienced team looking to get back to regionals where they lost last year in the semifinals.
Troy expectations: The Trojans return almost their entire team coming off a 23-win season and are ranked No. 11 in the preseason. They are led by Ball State commit senior Connor Hutchinson (infielder, reliever) and Virginia Tech commit junior Ryder Kirtley (middle infield).
State poll: Russia, last years’ Division IV state champions, returns most of its team. However, in the state coaches association poll, the Raiders are unranked. The team the Raiders beat in the final, Van Wert Lincolnview, is ranked No. 1.
Ranked in the D-IV top 20 are No. 7 Fort Loramie, No. 9 Minster, No. 10 St. Henry and No. 17 Fort Recovery.
In Division III, Coldwater is 13th, while Valley View and Carlisle are two of three teams tied at No. 19. Tippecanoe is tied for No. 18 in Division II. Also in Division I, Centerville and Butler are tied for No. 19.
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