Carey coach Joey Roark earns top Ohio coaching honor

When the season started, Carey’s goals were simple: set a school mark for season wins and win the Northern 10 Athletic Conference title.

The Blue Devils did that and more, and Tuesday they gained some recognition.

Joey Roark was named the Division IV coach of the year, Trey Bame earned first-team honors and Easton Roark and Brayden Wentling picked up honorable mention honors when the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association released its All-Ohio list.

A handful of other area players gained All-Ohio status, including three other first-team picks, but the Blue Devils made sure Roark got the top coaching nod.

“I would consider that more of a program award than a coach award. The kids I had … I couldn’t ask for better kids,” coach Roark said.

He and the Blue Devils entered the year looking to better the school mark of 14 wins. They smashed that by going 23-2, winning their first 18 in a row to set another school mark, and wound up with a district runner-up trophy. They also shared the Northern 10 Athletic Conference title with Seneca East by going 15-1

“We had some expectations this year. I had a pretty veteran group,” coach Roark said.

“We were just playing. We weren’t putting any pressure on ourselves,” he said. “What kept us focused was Seneca East undefeated in the league too.”

The lone N10 loss came to Seneca East just a few days after Carey beat the Tigers to secure at least a share of the title.

“They didn’t hang their heads when we lost,” coach Roark said. “We just played game by game and whatever happened, happened. All the credit to the kids. I had a great group of kids.”

His All-Ohio players were examples of that.

Bame went 11-0 with 100 strikeouts and 1.06 ERA while walking just 13 in 66 innings. He was also a threat with a bat, hitting .476 with 10 doubles, 29 RBIs and 18 runs.

“I’ve coached him since he was 8 years old. He was very dependable,” coach Roark said.

“He threw a lot of strikes. The defense was always on their toes, and we also had a good defensive team,” he said. “He knows that when they do put the bat on the ball, we’re going to make the play.”

Wentling and Roark the player also contributed for the Blue Devils.

Wentling went 7-2 as a pitcher with 63 strikeouts and a 1.24 ERA, and added a .359 average with 33 runs and 17 steals at the plate.

Roark, coach Roark’s son, hit .373 with 26 runs, 18 RBIs and 16 steals.

“They do everything you ask of them,” coach Roark said of the All-Ohio senior trio.

“They don’t get flustered if we’re down a few runs. They don’t get down,” he said. “It’s good having kids with their baseball skills and fundamentals and knowledge.”

Hopewell-Loudon’s Zach Kreais and New Riegel’s Alec Zoeller also landed on the Division IV first team, Kreais as a first baseman and Zoeller as an outfielder.

Kreais’ inclusion came after suffering a season-ending injury in the first football game of the year last fall and putting in a lot of offseason rehab work, H-L coach Tony Swanagan said.

“It’s exciting. It’s good to have good news for the program,” Swanagan said. “We didn’t have a good year last year, and we made strides this year, so it’s extra icing on the cake.

“He had an average season last year and he was a little disappointed. He just worked his butt off in the weight room and played Legion ball,” he said. “With him getting hurt the absolute first play of football, he was just crushed. Instead of moping around, he got in the weight room in the winter.”

Kreais hit .500 with 19 RBIs, 35 runs and 18 steals, and ended just two hits shy of the school record for hits in a season while helping the Chieftains go 14-9. And even with the season over, Swanagan said Kreais is still a serving as an example for the program.

“The best thing is, he’s a great kid. Last night he came to a pony league game,” Swanagan said. “He was trying to be supportive of kids coming up in the program. When that All-Ohio guy is showing up at a pony league game just to support kids, that’s what your program’s all about.”

Zoeller earned his first-team award one season after two teammates did the same last year.

New Riegel coach Gregg Hughes said Zoeller took their examples to heart, and others in the state noticed this year.

“For us being as good as we were last year, people got to see Alec play. This year, he performed very well. He played center field for us and hit third for us,” Hughes said. “Great kid, humble kid. Sometimes you don’t know how good he is, but obviously he must be doing pretty good.”

Zoeller batted at a .475 clip with 17 RBIs and 22 runs. He also pitched, going 4-2 with 76 strikeouts and 3.38 ERA.

“It was nice to have him there every year. He was solid every year; pitching wise, and offense and defense every year he’s gotten better. He’s a great kid,” Hughes said of the four-year letterwinner.

“He’s been there four years for us. It’s all about senior leadership,” he said. “What we lost last year …, he was the leader of our team this year and came out and had a great year. That’s what you need.”

Area second-team picks were Seneca East’s Bo Smith as a pitcher (10-1, 84 K, 0.11 ERA), and Calvert’s Grant Vera (.425, 16 RBIs, 13 runs) and Old Fort’s Jacob Webb as infielders.

Other honorable mention players included Buckeye Central’s Josh Dentinger (.276, 12 runs, 14 steals; 6-5, 105 K, 1.58 ERA) and Seneca East’s Rickie Lacy (.370, 15 runs, 19 RBIs).

The area’s other All-Ohioan was Bellevue’s Bryce Ray, who capped his career as a Division II first-team infielder.

He ends as the first Bellevue player to be a three-time All-Ohioan after gaining second-team honors as a sophomore before making the jump to first team last year.

“First time in our program we’ve had anyone do that,” Bellevue coach Andy Dennings said of his three-time All-Ohioan. “He’s a great kid, works extremely hard at the game. He handles the highs and lows of the game very well. He’s really been a joy to coach.

“To be three-time All-Ohio is pretty darn special,” he said. “It speaks volumes about the kind of player he is.”

Ray hit .457 with 13 RBIs and 25 runs as a full-time shortstop this year to help the Redmen go 17-3 overall and share the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division crown with Clyde at 11-1.

“He was our best player and we put him in there and he ran the show, and it worked out pretty well,” Dennings said.

“We’ve had some really good players in the 10 years I’ve been here. For a young many like that to get three-time All-Ohio, … without question, he set the bar pretty high (for the program),” he said. “He’s been a great role model for us. He has a lot of integrity and character. He’s been a blessing.”