Baseball

‘Our game’s good enough’ — Badin baseball seeks third state title

HAMILTON — Austin Buckle has some of the Badin High School baseball team’s historical postseason figures embedded into the back of his mind.

“Two teams have finished the job,” the senior second baseman said. “We want to be the third.”

Badin (26-6) is seeking its third state championship in program history as the No. 6 Rams face Parma Padua Franciscan (19-10-1) at 10 a.m. Friday in the Division II state semifinals at Akron’s Canal Park.

Badin won the state title in 1991 and 1996.

“We’re just trying to keep our minds into playing our game,” Buckle said. “Just not trying to get too big in the moment. Our game got us here. Our game can win games, obviously, so we’ve just got to stay in that mindset and play our game — because our game’s good enough.”

Badin is making its third trip to the state tournament in the past four seasons and 15th appearance in school history. The Rams fell to Chaminade Julienne 2-1 in last year’s regional final.

“We’ve just got to keep it simple, not do too much and have everyone buy in,” Buckle said. “Even our bench guys that aren’t dressing, they’re bought in. Everybody wants to be a starter. We have no dudes that come off the bench that are bench guys. So, everybody competes, everybody’s willing to do their job.”

Badin defeated Jonathan Alder 2-0 in the regional finals last Friday. Jonathan Alder was ranked No. 1 in the final state poll.

Pitching and defense haven’t budged all postseason long for the Rams, winners of seven straight and 10 of their last 11. They’ve outscored their tournament opponents 50-0.

“Great pitching is going to give you a chance to be successful, and we’ve received that,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said. “I would say all year pitching has been a strength. Early on, guys were kind of figuring out the varsity level, and a lot of guys got their first taste of varsity, their first innings.

“Guys have settled in, and we’ve received really good pitching for the most part all year,” Treadway added. “Our defense has played really well. So, there’s no secret to baseball — pitching and defense is going to win championships.

“At the end of the day, zero is what matters. Our pitching has done a phenomenal job. We’re getting jobs done on an offensive standpoint to put us ahead. You don’t give up runs, it makes it a lot easier to win.”

Badin this week held its annual baseball camp that brought in 230 youth athletes, and Treadway said it’s used to keep the team relaxed heading into the state tournament.

But the Rams aren’t short of liveliness when it comes to gametime.

“Just the electric energy that certain guys bring to this team really allows us to be free and play loose,” Treadway said. “There’s not one guy that’s carrying our team from an offensive standpoint. Everybody knows that it’s a collaborative effort to do some damage.”

Buckle said the Rams are unselfish and willing to do what needs to be done to win from a strategic standpoint.

“I know I would … if we’ve got the bunt sign four times in a game, we’d lay it down four times,” Buckle said. “Everybody just wants to win. It’s a fun environment.

“We’ve only pitched three dudes, too, which is insane. We play good defense, but they’ve got to fill up the zone, not give up a lot of walks. It’s fun. It makes playing the game easy. If you’re going through innings quick, and you’re able to hit, it’s fun. It makes it easy.”

Sophomores Caleb Driessen and Beau Chaney have been Badin’s go-to starting pitchers, while senior Tyler Verdin has been closing games out.

At the plate, anyone can produce for the Rams.

“The No. 1 goal that we want to do as a coaching staff is to help our players get better all around,” Treadway said. “The mental aspect, Coach (Eric) Cole does a tremendous job as our mental performance coach. From a fundamental standpoint, the coaching staff does a great job. From a physicality standpoint, Coach (Craig) Cheek, our strength coach does a great job.

“It’s just a lot of fun to coach these guys in all aspects of the game,” Treadway added. “We also want to maximize our time together. But doing that, this week is the final week that we can practice. We get to have camp, and then we get to go play in a Final Four game and hopefully for a state championship. You can’t go after that, and that’s our goal every year is to maximize our time together and take advantage of every opportunity we have to get better and to be together and to be the best team that we can be.

“This year has been a blast. We’re looking to cap it off.”

IN THE KNOW

Wintersville Indian Creek (20-6) plays No. 12 Beloit West Branch (27-6) in the other Division II state semifinal at 1 p.m. in Akron. The state final is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday. … Parma Padua Franciscan knocked off Napoleon 4-2 to reach the state tournament.

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