Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.


Off to an impressive start, the Minster Wildcats are reaping the benefits(?) of being the reigning Division IV champs in baseball.

Minster’s Mike Wiss smiled at the question:  How was his team adjusting to playing as the returning champs in Division IV baseball this spring?

And, how are opposing teams adjusting in terms of their focus and effort against the reigning champs?

On the occasion of their game Sunday with Bradford at Fifth Third Field in downtown Dayton, Wiss and the Wildcats were sitting on a 10-2 record, running at the head of the pack in the MAC conference with the likes of Versailles and Delphos St. John, and generally enjoying the feeling of respect and attention they get from every team they play.

Typically a good-hitting team with impressive junior Adam Niemeyer as an anchor on the mound, the Wildcats got their hacks in early Sunday against the Railroaders, aided greatly by seven Bradford errors.  Brandon Hoying turned in a creditable starting effort.  Niemeyer delivered the coup de gras blow with a two-run homer in the fifth inning, and Devon Poeppelman pitched an impressive three innings of relief for an 11-4 win, their 11th of the season.

“It’s been a good spring thus far,”  assured Wiss.  “As far as the business of being the defending champs, we had a meeting early with the team and talked about it…about how to carry ourselves in a manner that showed we played with confidence and an edge, but without being arrogant about it.  We had that one meeting, and that was it.  The kids have done a great job, and I think they’re enjoying being the returning champs.”

An 11-2 record is a pretty good indicator in that regard, notwithstanding the fact that Wiss concedes that everyone they play is coming after them with everything they have.

“We started the season hitting very well, and I think maybe some people overreacted to that.  I think we’re a good fastball hitting team, but I don’t think we’re ‘that’ good, pertaining to the way people have been pitching to us for the past week or so.  We’ve been seeing a lot of 40 mile-per-hour pitches.”

They are talented, they’re young and talented at key positions on the field (Poeppelman and Niemeyer), there is experience back from last year’s team, and with the versatility of Niemeyer, who played a flawless third base Sunday besides homering to first row of seats in left field, the Wildcats have what some consider to be the best all-around player in area Division IV baseball.

Even with the new “dead” aluminum bat being used this spring, Niemeyer’s blast looked like little more than business as usual.

“I didn’t even feel it off the bat,”  he smiled afterwards.  “I hit it pretty good.”

Good news, certainly, for Wiss and the Wildcats…bad news for those on Minster’s immediate schedule, including Ft. Recovery on Friday of this week and next Saturday’s Ft. Loramie Invitational Tournament.  You can hear those games, Friday and Saturday, on Press Pros streaming audio.

They’ve taken it seriously at Minster, Auglaize County’s first-ever title in baseball from last June’s state tournament at Huntington Park, in Columbus.  Their record speaks for itself.  The ‘Cats are playing like champions…still.  Again!

From the looks of things they’re having the time of their young lives.  They’re kids, you know.  They should.

The 40 mile-per-hour fastballs are a sign of respect from opposing teams.  Soon enough, they’ll see another kind of respect…the real thing.   Someone will make them prove…that they are a good fastball hitting team.

And don’t be surprised if there isn’t another team meeting along the way.  They’re allowed.

They are the champions!