SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — For first-year Shawnee ACME baseball coach Tim Morgan, coaching at the upcoming state tournament will be exciting because not only does he have his team playing for a state title, but he’s doing it with son at his side.
Morgan, a Shawnee graduate, coached the 2007 Shawnee Junior ACME team that made it to the state tournament.
Now, Morgan — along with his son Luke Morgan — will guide the Shawnee varsity ACME team at the state tournament at Coldwater’s Memorial Park beginning Saturday.
Shawnee (18-4) will open play at noon Saturday against Coldwater. The double-elimination tournament runs from Saturday to July 27. Shawnee played in last year’s state tournament as well.
The eight teams at the ACME state tournament include Shawnee, Coldwater, Vandalia, Anthony Wayne, Ottawa-Glandorf, Crestview, Bellefontaine and Defiance.
“It (2007) was the last time I coached baseball at this level,” Tim Morgan said. “We ended up getting a berth to state. We got beat twice when we got down there, but we at least made a run. Then of course, these guys made it to state last year, and now here we are.”
Luke, a 2010 Shawnee grad, played baseball throughout high school and was part of the 2007 Shawnee team that finished second at the ACME state tournament. Also on this year’s coaching staff is Cody Hull, who was a teammate of Luke’s in high school.
“What an opportunity. …I’ve coached him (his son, Luke) since Little League,” Tim Morgan said. “When the opportunity came up (to coach), I had to think about it a little bit. But once I realized that you usually don’t get that opportunity to coach with your own son, then it was a no-brainer. He knows baseball and he grew up in Shawnee. So, it’s been a really good opportunity.”
Luke tasted success first-hand, while playing baseball at Shawnee.
“I played on the (ACME) team that got second at state (2007),” Luke said. “We talked about it a little bit and we wanted to make sure we got Cody (Hull) on board too. Once we got that, it was a no-brainer.”
Shawnee battled back in the losers’ bracket to eventually defeat Bath in the district championship game, 3-1, to garner a state berth. The Indians have been successful this summer, for the most part, because of their pitching and defense.
“We’ve struggled hitting. That’s what got us behind a little bit,” Tim Morgan said. “The defense kept getting better, but the pitching held us all year. As far as the hitting, we were struggling. We started to come out of that in the last few games.”
Shawnee’s strength lies in its defense.
“That middle holds us. …That’s what I’ve preached since I’ve been here and that’s what the coaches (in spring ball) expect,” Morgan said. “At third base, we’ll go with (Chase) Wilder or (Taylor) Fickel. At shortstop, we got Trevor Anderson. (Jake) Sevitz at second. (Zach) Peake plays first and (Landon) Demoss plays first. Wilder catches too, but our main catcher has been (William) Kleffner. We’ll have some guys fill in, like (Tobie) Azeez and (Alex) Lehman.”
On the mound, Shawnee has three pitchers they rely on heavily — Peake, Justin Fullom and Austin Brachok.
“Brachok is all about location,” Morgan said. “Really, all three of them (Brachok, Fullom and Peake) are that way. After what we graduated this past year, these guys have really stepped up. They work the plate well.”
When it comes to pep talks, Morgan said he doesn’t need to get too vocal.
“There are a lot of things that you can put in their heads. But, there’s been tradition here, as far as baseball. At this point, we have to make sure we have our shirts buttoned and our pants put up the right way, if you know what I mean. We want to get in that winners’ bracket and that will set us up a little easier.”
As far as facing a very solid Coldwater team in the opening round, Shawnee is ready for the challenge.
“We already lost to them (during the summer),” Brachok said. “We have to get revenge.”
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS AT THE STATE TOURNAMENT: Ottawa-Glandorf plays Crestview at 5 p.m. Saturday. Defiance will take on Bellefontaine at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Shawnee headed to state ACME tournament