The Diamond League is entering its 21st season in 2018. The Diamond League, founded in 1997 for the 1998 season by Brian Sliwinski, has provided an avenue for top players from Northeast Ohio to play against top level competition. The league is run to the highest level, and is known across the United States as one of the top summer baseball leagues.
Below is a preview article written by Andrew Gilkey for the 2018 Connie Mack 18u division.
The Diamond League embarks on its 21st season in 2018. The pinnacle of the Diamond League is its Connie Mack division comprised of the top high school players in Northeast Ohio. The Diamond League Connie Mack division has a tradition of future college and even pro prospects. These teams play a competitive league season and participate in some of the top tournaments on the weekends. This season, there are 18 teams in the Connie Mack division split into two divisions. Here is a preview of some of the top 17 & 18 year old progams in the Diamond League:
Returning American Division champs Premier Ohio are looking to repeat this season. Coach Doug Cicerchi’s team contains some of the league’s most powerful hitters as well as impressive defensive players. “We have been one of the better hitting teams around the last few seasons and I don’t anticipate that changing” said Cicerchi. Premier Ohio’s 18U players have earned the attention of several outstanding colleges including Marshall University and Ohio Northern. The 18U players’ leadership both on and off the field will be an important factor in the team’s success.
Coach Aaron Debord’s Ohio Longhorns will be facing off with their American League rivals with a hardy pitching staff. Many of their players were named varsity impact players in previous seasons. The Longhorns’ roster is being bolstered by last year’s 16U Diamond League championship players that are rising to the senior team. Though the team fields top tier players and is projected to be successful, this season will still be challenging. “No one is a ‘cupcake’ on the schedule and our tough weekday games will get us ready for our national events” said Debord.
The Golden Spikes are looking to be top competitors in the National Division with their talented squad of high school seniors and juniors. Many of these seniors are already committed to solid college programs such as Kenyon and Muskingum. The team is focusing on defensive consistency this season to overcome their most challenging matchups. “The league has always had standout pitchers and if you match up on the mound you have success, if you don't you usually end up on the short end of the score.” said Coach Jay Murphy.
The Diamond League Tournament will be the main focus for the National Division’s Ohio Hit Club. “The Diamond League Tournament will certainly be tough, playing 4 games in 3 days. I believe that will set the stage for the rest of the regular season” said Coach Kevin Brubaker. The Ohio Hit Club are hoping that the added hitting and pitching staff will help them make a splash in the tournament. These players are rising to the senior team after winning the 16U Ohio Prospects League in 2017. “There are multiple top tier teams in the Diamond League which will make the competition good. We look forward to the opportunity to play” said Brubaker.
The National Division Ohio Longhorns are aiming to move into the top spot this season. The team has a wealth of talent both on the mound and at the plate. Many of the Longhorns’ players are committed to high quality college programs like Notre Dame College and Mount Union. According to Coach Jerry DeMarino, the key to being successful in such a tough league is to eliminate mental mistakes. “Every opponent on the schedule is tough, but we plan on winning every game and it's up to our execution and mental toughness” said DeMarino. Having a consistent offense will be a crucial aspect in maintaining the focus necessary to stay on top.
Coach Dave Borgia’s Premier Ohio team have their sights set on a top three finish this year--the high-water mark set by Borgia and the squad’s many veteran players. This season’s team consist of 12 players who will be continuing their baseball careers into college. Borgia states that the Diamond Boys will be his team’s biggest challenge this season.
To check on the 2018 Diamond League season, go to www.diamondleague.org and also check out the Diamond League Twitter account @diamondleaguebb for more information on teams and individual players.
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