COLUMBUS, OH- 11-15 is the Record that the South Range Raiders Baseball Team had entering the playoffs. Teams laughed. Reporters scoffed. South Range was the punch line to a joke that their team was overrated, an easy target, and sitting ducks for ‘an underdog’ to make a name off of with a win.
The reactions were progressive over the past month or so. The joke of the record was told again and again. It went from being a knee-slapper in the District Championship in Cene Park to a head-scratcher in Massilon, and finally hands to the hips, and head-down moment in Columbus.
Look who’s laughing now.
At 18-15 The South Range Raiders rolled through Madeira on Thursday (7-0) on the arm and bat of Freshman, Jake Gehring. On Saturday, the Burgandy and Gold stole the show in Columbus. Beating a state-ranked, heavily favored Coldwater team that boasted 21 trips to the State Finals over the history of the program (Winning 10.) A gem of a game by Sam Brooks, an unbelievable grab by Senior Brandon Youngs, and a selfless sacrifice bunt from one of the state’s hottest hitters in Ben Rivera all added up to the first-ever OHSAA State Championship in South Range history in a 3-2 victory over the Cavaliers.
This isn’t just a team on a mission. It’s a team of destiny.
Well documented are the successful teams that have come before this team. Full of stars, and talent that the stars just never aligned for. This team, though. This team believed in one another as much as they believed in themselves. They truly wanted each other to succeed. Headlines didn’t matter. A true “we before me” mentality. We interviewed first-year Assistant Coach Ryan Miller, a member of some of the most talented South Range teams in history, his younger brother Brendan is a Senior this year and serves as manager for the Raiders. He explains in the interview what makes this team so special.
This team had so many storylines this season- it could be a Disney Movie. Maybe it will be one day. Right now, though, the Raiders will gladly let the gold hang from around their neck, and look back on the season that took them from being the butt of a joke to the Kings of the Diamond.
We only have one question for all those who doubted at every turn: “You like that?”
From all of us at Your Sports Network- Congratulations South Range! The Colors are hoisted higher than ever before!
Head Coach Jim Hanek
Brendan Miller and Coach Ryan Miller