Monday, May 20

    Baseball Preview: Grand Valley Mustangs

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    After a strong finish to the 2022 season, Grand Valley returns just two starters in 2023.

    The Mustangs finished last season with a 15-7 record overall and a 9-3 mark in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

    “After losing the majority of our starting lineup from last year, we are looking to improve every day in practice, gain experience, and be in a position to be competitive as the season progresses,” said Grand Valley coach Zach Sirrine. “We only return two starters from 2022, so we expect to get better every day and be more competitive as we gain experience at the varsity level.”

    Overcoming their inexperience will come with time and reps.

    “Our inexperience has been a challenge so far, but we’ve shown promise in some scrimmages and as we gain more varsity experience we’ll continue to improve,” Sirrine said. “Our biggest strength as a team will be our work ethic and effort that we put in every day to improve as a team.”

    Senior Casey Turner is one of Grand Valley’s returning starters and he’ll be counted on to not only lock down third base and anchor the pitching staff but also to provide leadership for the younger players.

    “Casey is one of our two returning everyday players from last season,” Sirrine said. “We are looking forward to him being a quality leader, and a strong point in not only our rotation but also in the middle of the lineup and at third base.”

    Junior right fielder Eric Ellsworth also is a returning starter. He’ll also pitch for the Mustangs.

    “Eric is our other returning starter from last year and we look for him to play a little bit of everywhere, including being one of the top guys in our rotation,” Sirrine said.

    Grand Valley’s projected starting lineup also includes freshman catcher Blake Taylor, sophomore first baseman Lucas Henry, senior second baseman Logan Jones, freshman shortstop Payton Pligza, junior left fielder Kam Cottrell, junior center fielder Aidan Baker, and junior DH Justin Hagan.

    Pligza has been impressive in the preseason.

    “Payton is an incoming freshman and we look for him to contribute at the top of the lineup and at the top of the rotation,” Sirrine said.

    The pitching rotation includes Turner, Pligza, Hagan, Ellsworth, Taylor, Baker, and Henry.

    “In order to be successful this season, we’ll need to throw strikes consistently as a pitching staff, make the routine plays on defense, and contribute some timely hitting on the offensive side,” Sirrine said.


    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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