Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has an arts degree (music) from Ohio State University.

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Memorial Day and Father’s Day is past, and it’s time to wind down and appreciate the best moments of another great year.  And before you forget…here’s the ones we picked as best of show.

Even though the seasonal solstice isn’t for a few days yet…I’m declaring summer.

I decided officially on Saturday when a forgotten Snickers bar under the passenger seat of my car melted in the 94 degree heat…that it’s summer.

And, it’s summer when your right hand man (woman) is on the shelf for the next eight weeks because of neck and spine surgery.  And when she comes back, Associate Editor and photographer Julie Wright will be searching for a Nikon ‘Lite’ – lighter, and less stress on her new neck!  And double duty is a price I’m willing to pay for now…because I hear there’s a bumper hatch of pheasants and prairie grouse out west, and one of the best upland hunting seasons in years is projected for the fall.

But I’m also told there’s projected to be another bumper crop of area football and volleyball teams this fall that, likewise, will be title contenders.  So a man goes where a man’s gotta’ go.

But, the perfect opportunity for segue’, and thoughts on the top five events read on Press Pros during the past school year.  OK….maybe six.  And I’m going to declare boldly…that none of them had a participant older than 18. (Hint?)  Sorry about that…Reds, UD, Buckeyes, and Bengals.

#1)  Marion Local’s stunning win in the  boys Division IV state title game in basketball.  Why?  Because no one expected it, and seldom in the tenure of Press Pros have I seen so many players make big plays, make big shots, and be as large as the moment dictated…when there was absolutely no other choice.  Tyler Prenger’s three big ‘treys’  (3 for 8 three point shooting) that gave them an early lead and confidence.  Nate Bruns huge three-pointer from the corner that forced overtime, plus his 18 point and 14 rebounds.  And the cross-court pass from Collin Everman to facilitate that three-point shot.  Tyler Mescher’s two free throws that capped the win…and the offensive rebound of offensive rebounds by Justin Albers.  Football titles have become common at Marion, but this marked just the third basketball title since 1975 and then coach Irv Besecker.  So, never take any title for granted, but this one was special.  Someone at the time called it the moment of moments for a community with more moments than streets!

No one “died” after a critical mid-season loss at Versailles…instead the Minster girls just regrouped to sweep the Division IV title in basketball.

#2)  New Bremen’s title win in Division IV volleyball.  Special, because it marked the first team title in the history of the school.  Special, because the state got to see Paige Jones put on one of the truly amazing pressure performances in the history of the tournament, setting marks that will not doubt stand for a while, 72 kills, and an incredible 47 in the semi-final win over Buckeye Central.  And just the excitement of seeing that many people in cardinal and gold hugging each other – and rounds being bought back home in celebration.  And, on the heels of that win the MAC spoke again as Versailles topped Coldwater for the Div. III crown, with many of those same New Bremen fans who hung around to support kids from different schools, but the same conference.  Special!

#3)  Fort Loramie’s title win in Division IV baseball.  Admittedly, one could have seen this coming because the 2017 team under Bill Sturwold played as many as six freshmen and won 20 games.  But coaching changes necessitate some time for adjustment – kids to coach and coach to kids – and Jeff Sanders was masterful in putting the right people in the right places and at the right time.  Special performances by Dylan Albers, Jared Middendorf, Austin Siegel, Shane Hilgefort…and a very special 8-run inning along the way to get it done, their third title since 2007.  Regardless of where you stand on the past issues of Loramie baseball, it was enough to make anyone smile with appreciation.

These Redskins became red-skinned in the brilliant sun of Huntington Park, but didn’t seem to mind. They won their third title in baseball.  Exclamation point!

#4)  Minster’s girls winning the Division IV basketball title.  What made this so special is the calm and confidence shown by coach Mike Wiss after a mid-season conference loss before a packed house at Versailles.  His team didn’t play well that night, and Versailles did.  No problem.  Wiss faced reporters afterwards, obligingly answered the questions about poor shooting, turnovers, rebounding, etc., and then concluded matters by reminding everyone that, “Nobody died here tonight.  We’ll just go back to work tomorrow.”  Bingo, Mike.  Wish I had thought of that myself.  And the work paid off as they swept through the sectional, division, region and state tournament in masterful fashion.

Geron Stokes and the Wildcats completed the improbable turnaround as Minster ran the table from Oct. 6 to December 2 and won the Div. VII title.

#5)  Minster’s run to the Division VII football title after a four-game losing streak in mid-season.  It wasn’t just the fact of them winning a second title in four years, but rather the way in which Geron Stokes kept his team together for an eight-game win streak, Oct. 6 through Dec. 1, that culminated in a 32-7 mashing of Cuyahoga Heights for that title.  Nobody saw it coming, even though Stokes said he wasn’t concerned after losing to Coldwater on Oct. 6.  He rolled the dice, and came up 6’s.  And…who in Ohio can claim a better year overall than Minster, with four OHSAA titles…cross country, football, girls basketball, and track!

#6)  OK…one more.  It’s not that uncommon to see or hear about a high school no-hitter in baseball, but to actually be there when it happens…it’s about once in every five years.  Back on May 1st we were there when Fort Recovery’s Cade Wendel threw his seven-inning 1-0 gem over Minster, and against Minster sophomore Austin Brown, who was nearly as good, and coming off a no-hitter of his own just two weeks prior.  I’m sure there are those who will disagree, but no-hitters at any level just aren’t that common.  And for the record…the last no-hitter we witnessed was by Russia’s Nolan Francis three years ago in the sectional round of the tournament, against Ft. Loramie.

And in closing…thanks to all of those who took the time to send kind words about what we do (or did) that encompassed the events above. However, we couldn’t do it without those sponsors who make it possible…and like a tree that falls in the forest with no witness, we couldn’t do it without readers like you.  Stay tuned.

Opening night for high school football…is just 64 days away!

Fort Recovery’s Cade Wendel punctuates his May 1st no-hitter over defending champ Minster.

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