Return to good American soil and sports

Shots in the Darke

Time to get back to the routine of life in West Central Ohio after a seven-day cruise of the  Rhine River from Switzerland to Amsterdam, two days in the capital city of the Netherlands,  and two long flights over and back—only took a little over a week to get used to Eastern Daylight Savings Time again! Not that there’s anything wrong with waking up at 2:00 in the morning and falling asleep at 6:00 in the evening! By the way, for those of you complaining about the cost of gasoline now that the “summer blend” has arrived, a gallon of regular in  Europe is going for between $7.50-8.00!! 

It was interesting trying to stay up with the NCAA Final Four for both men and women as the  games didn’t begin until after midnight in Germany. South Carolina’s women certainly earned a  place in history after an undefeated season and national title in handling the Caitlin Clark  phenomenon and Iowa while UConn’s men dominated the field in winning a second  consecutive championship. I appreciated the strategy used by Coach Danny Hurley in the title  game against Purdue as the Huskies conceded Zac Edey his 30-some points while shutting  down the Boilermakers perimeter game, allowing only seven three-point attempts. Here’s a  trivia question for you—other than the obvious answer of UCLA, what other schools have  claimed back-to-back Division One titles in men’s basketball? If you can name four of the six  you are truly a basketball aficionado! 

High school sports are trying to play catch-up with schedules that were riddled with  cancellations due to the weather. Here’s hoping for a stretch of nice days, not only for the  mental health of local athletic directors but also for farmers throughout the Miami Valley! 

Taking a quick look at high school baseball standings to this point of the season it’s obvious  that the Miami or North division of the Miami Valley League is definitely superior to the Valley  members. Piqua, Butler, Troy, and Tipp all have impressive records and will battle it out for  Miami honors while only Xenia and possibly Fairborn seem to be competitive in the Valley. Greenville’s young team with four freshmen starters has steadily improved at the varsity level  and promises to be a force in the coming years. 

In the WOAC Newton holds a one-game lead over Dixie, Arcanum, and Bradford as of this  Saturday morning. Brookville and Oakwood hold the early lead in the Buckeye Division of the  SWBL with Bethel leading Miami East and Troy Christian in the Three Rivers Conference. 

Softball action sees Greenville and Butler tied with 10-1 marks in MVL play with Piqua and  Troy both at 9-2. Once again the Miami division seems superior to the Valley thus far as only  Fairborn at 8-6 has a winning record down south. The Lady Wave seem well on their way to  another 25-win season and a long run in the tournament next month. 

In the WOAC Tri-Village and Tri-County North pace the pack with Arcanum and Ansonia  each a game behind while Waynesville and Carlisle head the Buckeye division in the SWBL and  Miami East and Covington have the advantage in the Three Rivers standings.

Track and Field continues in full swing—as the weather improves so do the times, heights,  and distances. Look for the usual complement of area athletes to make waves not only in  upcoming league meets but also district, regional, and state competitions.  

Golf courses around the Valley are shaking off the effects of inclement weather so let’s get  out those sticks and enjoy a round or two of frustration! 

After over three weeks of MLB action let’s take a brief look at who’s hot and who’s not—in  the AL the Yankees (love ‘em or hate ‘em), the young and talented Orioles, the Guardians  (Cleveland in case you forgot), and the Royals (yes, the Royals) have gotten off to great starts  while the injury-plagued White Sox and the Astros of all teams are struggling. Over in the NL  the Braves, Phillies, Brewers, and Cubs are all playing over .600 ball with the Marlins and  Rockies barely above .200. The Reds are 10-9 as of this writing and are trying to put the  pieces together as inconsistency has hampered both the offense and the pitching staff.  

For those interested the NBA playoffs have begun a two-month long run with Boston heavily  favored in the East while any of eight teams could realistically emerge from the West. If you  want to see traveling, palming the ball, and wholesale physical mayhem in action then tune in  the “pros” on the various networks! 

Here’s something to ponder—a report from Lixil Americas, maker of bathroom fittings and  fixtures, estimates that the US will be short about 500,000 licensed plumbers by 2027. I’m  afraid the same can be said about electricians, construction workers, and tradesmen of all  sorts. Sounds like a great opportunity for young people to earn a substantial income if willing  to learn and work!! 

Finally, here are the six schools other than UCLA to win consecutive titles prior to UConn’s  feat two weeks ago — Florida (‘06-‘07); Duke (‘91-‘92); Cincinnati (‘61-‘62, defeating Ohio  State in the championship game each time, something my late father, a Buckeye alum, still  refused to accept! The Bearcats would have made it three in a row but lost to upstart Loyola of  Chicago in the title game of ‘63); San Francisco (‘55-‘56, think Bill Russel and KC Jones);  Kentucky (‘48-‘49, think Adolph Rupp); and Oklahoma State (‘45-‘46, don’t know what to think other than Coach Henry Iba!). Have a great week, stay healthy and active!!