Cincinnati high school baseball gets early season showcase boost from Reds.
By KEVIN GOHEENFS Ohio
Lamont Ford is like a lot of high school coaches. Calls from parents are taken with some hesitation. Twinges of “Uh-oh” typically course through the body as “Hello” is vocalized.
The baseball coach at North College Hill has had a different experience in recent months, a change he attributes to the Trojans being part of the second annual Reds Futures High School Showcase.
The schedule for this year’s event was announced Tuesday afternoon at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. A total of 64 teams from Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana will play games over a two-week period beginning March 25 at 13 venues around the Tri-State area, including three fields that have been renovated as part of the Reds Community Fund: Brian Wilson Field in Batavia Township, Brandon Phillips Field in Winton Terrace and Roselawn Park.
Conner and Lawrenceburg play in a matchup of Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana at Northern Kentucky University to kick off the event. Defending Ohio Division I state champion Moeller will play Greater Cincinnati League South rival La Salle on April 11 at Prasco Park in Mason.
“Normally calls from parents are not as warm and fuzzy as you would like but in this particular case the calls were really encouraging and they wanted us to be a part of it,” said Ford.
Ford is in his first season at North College Hill, a small suburb of Cincinnati. He has previously coached at Winton Woods and has been a supervisor with Greater Cincinnati Knothole for the past 15 years, he said. NCH has had successful football teams and basketball teams – it won three consecutive Division III state basketball titles from 2005-07 with current NBA players O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker being a part of the program – but its baseball program has been to just one state tournament, in 1938.
“Baseball numbers are down so we needed something to excite the program and this Reds showcase has done it for us. My signups have been great,” said Ford. “If you can walk, if you can throw the ball from here to there then come on out and try-out for me. I do tell kids it’s going to be a difficult challenge if you haven’t played before to learn it at this pace at the high school level but I want them all to come out and be part of it and see the process.”
NCH will play Hughes on March 30 at Roselawn Park. That is also to be the site where the Reds Community Fund is planning on building the P&G MLB Urban Youth Academy.
Charley Frank, executive director of the Reds Community Fund, said $5.4 million has been raised already for the project and the goal is to add another $1 million. The academy is scheduled to open in the spring of 2015, according to Frank.
Prasco Park will host games on five straight days beginning Monday, April 8 with Glen Este against Turpin. Besides NKU, the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and Miami University will also host games. Last year’s event had 50 teams playing in 25 games. Twenty schools are new to the event from last year’s inaugural showcase.
“We try to play a good schedule and play everybody around the city but this event truly brings that tournament atmosphere and flavor to our kids,” said Moeller coach Tim Held.
All players and coaches from the 64 teams will be invited to participate in a pregame parade before the Reds host the Miami Marlins at Great American Ball Park on April 21. The MVPs of all 32 games will be recognized as well.
“There are far fewer kids playing baseball today than when I grew up,” said Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini. “This is a good thing to not only get kids playing sports in general but selfishly to get them to play the game of baseball.”
Tickets for Futures Showcase games are $5 and are good for all games that day. The tickets also include a voucher for a free View Level ticket at select Reds games this season as well as a coupon for a free Skyline Chili cheese coney.
FOXSportsOhio.com will stream select games of the Futures Showcase online. The schedule of games to be streamed online will be announced later.
The full schedule of games for the 2013 Reds Futures High School Showcase presented by PNC:
Monday, March 25
Conner vs. Lawrenceburg, 5 p.m. (Northern Kentucky University)
Tuesday, March 26
St. Henry vs. Simon Kenton, 5 p.m. (St. Henry High School)
Thursday, March 28
Covington Catholic vs. Newport Central Catholic, 2 p.m. (Northern Kentucky University) **
Ryle vs. Scott, 5 p.m. (Northern Kentucky University) **
Saturday, March 30
Beechwood vs. Campbell County, Noon (Northern Kentucky University)
Cooper vs. Holy Cross, 2:30 p.m. (Northern Kentucky University)
Taylor vs. Walnut Hills, Noon (Roselawn Park)
Hughes vs. North College Hill, 2:30 p.m. (Roselawn Park)
Purcell Marian vs. Riverview East, Noon (Roselawn Park)
Tuesday, April 2
Reading vs. Seven Hills, 4:30 p.m. (Western Hills High School)
Western Hills vs. Wyoming, 7 p.m. (Western Hills High School)
Clark Montessori vs. Winton Woods, 4:30 p.m. (Brandon Phillips Field)
Saturday, April 6
Indian Hill vs. Ross, 1 p.m. (Miami University)
Edgewood vs. Hamilton Badin, 3:30 p.m. (Miami University)
Monday, April 8
Glen Este vs. Turpin, 5 p.m. (Brian Wilson Field)
Tuesday, April 9
Colerain vs. Oak Hills, 4:30 p.m. (Prasco Park)
Hamilton vs. Sycamore, 7 p.m. (Prasco Park)
Wednesday, April 10
Madeira vs. Mariemont, 4:30 p.m. (Prasco Park)
Cincinnati Christian vs. Summit Country Day, 7p.m. (Prasco Park)
Amelia vs. Bethel-Tate, 5 p.m. (Brian Wilson Field)
Thursday, April 11
La Salle vs. Moeller, 4:30 p.m. (Prasco Park) **
Elder vs. St. Xavier, 7 p.m. (Prasco Park) **
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy vs. Withrow, 5 p.m. (Xavier University) **
Anderson vs. Milford, 4:30 p.m. (University of Cincinnati)
McNicholas vs. Roger Bacon, 7 p.m. (University of Cincinnati)
Friday, April 12
Lakota West vs. Princeton, 5 p.m. (Prasco Park) **
Lakota East vs. Mason, 7 p.m. (Prasco Park) **
Fairfield vs. Middletown, 7:30 p.m. (Prasco Park) **
Goshen vs. New Richmond, 4:30 p.m. (New Richmond High School) **
Batavia vs. Clermont Northeastern, 5 p.m. (Brian Wilson Field) **
Monday, April 15
Kings vs. Loveland, 4:30 p.m. (Kings High School)
Harrison vs. Talawanda, 4:30 p.m. (Harrison High School)
**Reds mascots and the Reds Rover events team willl appear at these games. Additional appearances will be announced at a later date.
Note: FOXSportsOhio.com’s Prep Zone page will stream select games of the Reds Futures High School Showcase online. Details are forthcoming.