Ryan Alexander is well on his way to building a baseball juggernaut at Grove City High School in suburban Columbus.
The 1999 St. John Central graduate, who enjoyed an exceptional collegiate career at Muskingum College, is coaching a Greyhounds' baseball team that is ranked in the USA Today poll.
In its most recent poll, which was released Wednesday, Grove City was ranked third in the Midwestern Region of the poll and it's just one of two Ohio squads ranked. Strongsville's Mustangs are ranked one spot behind Grove City.
In typical coach speak, Alexander kind of wishes his team hadn't seen the rankings because his squad lost its first decision of the season that day during a spring break trip to Vero Beach, Fla. to take part in an event at Dodgertown.
"I told our guys it didn't mean a thing," Alexander said during a phone interview as his team made the lengthy bus trip back to the Buckeye State Friday afternoon. "Obviously, we want to peak and do well at the end of the season when the tournament starts."
After he took off his coaching hat, Alexander did admit that it was pretty neat seeing his club in the regional rankings.
"It's great for our program and our school to get that kind of recognition," Alexander said. "Actually, it's great for baseball because sometimes it can be tough to get fans to come out and support the team, but whenever people see that kind of recognition, they take notice."
During the Florida trip, the Greyhounds finished 4-1 and capped the trip with a 10-0 victory on Friday.
"We're heading back to Ohio happy," Alexander admitted. "We played well as a team. We've pitched well, we've gotten some timely hitting and our defense has been really solid."
The event Grove City played in was rather open ended. However, OHSAA rules only allow 27 games during the regular season and Grove City is locked into 14 Ohio Capital Conference games.
"It was a nice trip because on top of the games we played, we were able to take a lot of extra batting practice," Alexander said. "On the way down, we stopped three times to take batting practice and break up the trip. We hit in Lexington, Valdosta, Ga and Gainesville."
The Greyhounds, who took on two major fundraisers to help offset the cost of the trip, return to the diamond Monday against Lancaster.
"We've got to get some rest," Alexander said. "We threw it around a lot, and we've got some arms hanging."
ST. CLAIRSVILLE High product Jamie Garbash was named Most Improved as a member of the Ohio Northern University swimming team. She helped lead the Lady Polar Bears to another Ohio Athletic Conference championship. She swam on the conference-winning 200 medley relay. The 400 medley relay not only won the conference title, but it also set the OAC and school records. Jamie is a 2010 graduate of St. Clairsville.
OHIOANS DEFINITELY love the prep football tournament, which accounts for approximately 33 percent of the OHSAA operating budget. It turned a profit of $1,762,206 according to financial records released during the OHSAA's Board of Directors Meeting last week.
THE OVAC baseball playoffs get under way with the semifinals Saturday. The title games are scheduled for the following Friday and Saturday. Due to the lack of lights, for this season, at Vacarro, the OVAC has opted to play the 2A title game at Bridgeport on Friday, April 27.
THE OHIO BASKETBALL Coaches Association released its stat leaders for this past season. Shadyside junior Karli Bonar ranked third in the state in three-point shooting percentage at 47.19 percent.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth