Orion High School baseball celebrates season

Mindy Carls

Orion’s varsity baseball team finished the 2022 season as Three Rivers West co-champions with an 11-1 record. The Chargers were tied with the Riverdale Rams.

Overall, Orion was 23-7. The boys reached the Sherrard regional championship game, only to lose 15-7 to the hosts — a team they had beaten twice.

“The season ended with an unexpected loss that left a lot of pain,” Smith said at awards night on Monday, June 6, in the Orion High School gym. “A type of pain that only goes away one golf swing at a time. But the pain of the ending gets trumped by the success that we accomplished this year on and off the diamond.”

Off the diamond, the success came in the classroom and in the community.

Smith noted the varsity team had a grade point average of 3.29, over 20 points higher than in 2021. The Chargers qualified for the IHSA’s Team Achievement Award (3.00 or higher).

“The community service work we were able to do this year was incredible,” Smith said. “We were able to donate a monstrous cart full of toys for less fortunate children in our community for Christmas. We also raised over $900 in our Strike Out Cancer Game, all of which was donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.”

On the diamond, the Chargers exceeded the goals for the season.

“If you would've offered me a 23-7 season and conference co-champs in February, I would've happily accepted,” Smith said. “The improvements that this team showed from 2021 is remarkable. We got astronomically better in our three phases of the game: offense, defense and pitching.”

Award winners were Chance Stropes and Cole Kratzberg, Most Improved; Andrew Meiresonne and Alex Edwards, Newcomers; Gavin Awbrey and Connor Green, Bounce Back; Blayden Murdock, Jared Mohr, Dathan Moore and Ty Comer, Teammates; Chance Stropes and Cole Kratzberg, Offensive Players of Year; Quinn Hoftender and Stropes, Pitchers of the Year, and Drake Gunn, Defensive Player of the Year.

“As for next year, we have a large amount of talented players returning as well as some players with potential incoming,” Smith said. “I'm excited for the future of the Orion baseball program.”

The junior varsity team finished 3-10 overall. Coach Ryan Dunbar was very pleased with how much the players improved during the season, Smith said.

“He made a lot of players get out of their comfort zone and play positions they may not have played in the past,” Smith said. “The players came to practice with great attitudes, grinded it out and performed to the best of their abilities regardless of the situation.”

Aiden Fisher received the Most Improved award for the junior varsity team.

Varsity letters were awarded to Gavin Awbrey, Chance Stropes, Jared Mohr, Dathan Moore, Quinn Hoftender, Payton Weaver, Ty Comer, Cole Kratzberg, Andrew Meiresonne, Connor Green, Alex Edwards, Kile Johnson, Drake Gunn, Derek Dykeman, Anthony Clark, Kaden Edmunds, Nolan Buchen and Blayden Murdock.

Junior varsity letters went to Jackson Peer, Parker Larson, Airik Boos, Joe Faulkner, Aiden Fisher, Lane Johnson, Kellan Ossian, Kameron Weaver and Ethan Hamerlinck.

Orion High School baseball diamond at Love Park.

SEASON GOALS

Offense

Team total in 2021: 41 extra-base hits plus 81 stolen bases.

Team total in 2022: 86 extra-base hits plus 209 stolen bases.

Individual goal: Extra-base hits plus stolen bases total 30 or more. Achieved: Cole Kratzberg 68 (20 extra-base hits plus 48 stolen bases). Chance Stropes 40 (17 + 23). Drake Gunn 36 (6 + 30).

Team goal: 140 stolen bases (4 per game). Achieved: 209 in 30 games (7 per game). Individual totals: Kratzberg 50 (second in state, 1st in Class 2A), Gunn 33 (8th in 2A), Stropes 23 (18th in 2A), Andrew Meiresonne 22 (21st in 2A), Jared Mohr 15, Blayden Murdock 12, Dathan Moore 10.

Defense

Team fielding percentage in 2021: .884.

Team fielding percentage goal in 2022: .995. Achieved: .996.

Pitching

Individual goal: Under 3 bases on balls per seven innings pitched. Achieved: Quinn Hoftender, Stropes.

Team average in 2021: 3.89 bases on balls per game.

Team goal in 2022: Under 2.86 bases on balls per game. Achieved: 3.79 bases on balls in 28 regular-season games.