Sports Today: March Madness picks, mascot supremacy, Reds make cuts and some college football

Published: Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Have you got your bracket in yet?  

Better hurry...  

For anyone wondering, I picked UCLA as my national champion.  

I know as everyone reveals their choices today they love to be self-deprecating and say that means it is the kiss of death, but it really does feel like I am getting worse at this every year.  

For example: Last year I finally bought into the Michigan State hype ahead of time, so of course they went out in the first round.  

Other examples are too numerous to list. I have been burnt so many times over the past half dozen or so years, I really can't remember the worst of the worst.  

Two years ago, I picked a perfect Day 2 (16-0) and still had a bracket in shambles by the end of Sunday night.  

Aside from the Lonzo Ball and the Bruins, here are some other certified Hartman picks of note this year to celebrate or jeer later:  

  • I tabbed Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Miami to win first-round games in sticking with my principle from Sunday night: Don't pick anyone who lost to Ohio State (that would be Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State, respectively. North Carolina Central already lost in the First Four).  
  • Dayton over Wichita State. Senior point guard against freshman point guard.  
  • UD vs. Kentucky in the second round would not be short on historic storylines, I'm sure, but can you imagine if the Flyers pull the upset and get a 1967 title game rematch with UCLA?  
  • I picked Xavier over Maryland based on my general, "The Big Ten was mostly garbage this year," theory. Same with Middle Tennessee State over Minnesota, although that seems to be a popular pick. 
  • Kansas State continues Cincinnati's string of disappointing tournament runs as the Wildcats get a boost from already having won a game in the First Four and the adrenaline of being on the move ever since.  
  • Also give me No. 12 Princeton over Notre Dame.  
  • National champ: UCLA. I am buying the Lonzo Ball hype. Love a star point guard, especially when he can pass to a shooter like Bryce Alford and big guy like T.J. Leaf.  
  • I've got the Bruins beating Duke in the championship game with Gonzaga and Kansas also making the Final Four. I love Duke's roster, but they've been frighteningly up and down.  
  • I know Mark Few’s Bulldogs are everyone's favorite team to doubt, but Arizona hasn't been able to break through, either. Something has to give in the Elite Eight matchup between the two of them. 

Here's the full TV schedule from CBS.  

Make sure you stick with us today as we follow all the action via our March Madness Live Blog

Just for fun, I also like to do a mascot bracket.  

That means I pick the games based solely on what would happen if the team mascots battled each other.  

This brings in some inherent issue, the biggest one being matching forces of nature against mere mortals.  

And so that’s how I ended up with Miami as my national champion in that bracket.  

The Hurricanes had a close call in the second round against Iowa State, but it stands to reason a Hurricane is larger than a Cycone and would thus overwhelm it.  

The rest of my Mascots Final Four: The Dayton Flyers, West Virginia Mountaineers and Florida Gators. 

Dayton had it easy with the comparatively primitive Wichita State Wheat Shockers and NKU Norsemen (who upset the Wildcats of Kentucky thanks to superior weaponry) then overcame two tough land-based opponents in the UCLA Bruins and Arkansas Razorbacks.  

This approach produced a few notable upsets, the biggest being the Tigers of Texas Southern over the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels. When in doubt, always go with the tiger.  

Second-seeded Louisville also went down in the first round as a Jacksonville State Gamecock would obviously handle a Cardinal, and Miami’s run included a second-round upset of No. 1 seed Kansas.  

I’ll let you know which one turns out better... 

The Reds sent a bunch of guys out of their major league camp, including Dilson Herrera.  

The infield prospect wasn't able to play the infield because of a shoulder issue, so he didn't have much of a chance to make the team as a utility man. I’m sure he will be heard from sooner or later assuming he gets healthy. 

As for the starting rotation (with Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani out to start the year), it appears Bryan Price is down to choosing from Bronson Arroyo, Rookie Davis, Tim Adleman, Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson to join Brandon Finnegan and Scott Feldman. 

Said Price yesterday: “I like Amir, Rookie Davis as starters, Romano is on the fence for competing for a starting spot, although I think Romano could do both. Reed and Stephenson could pitch in the bullpen and still be considered long-term starters if they don’t make the rotation.”

Hal McCoy writes Reed’s appearance yesterday was a mixed bag. 

Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton had three hits… 

Last night in high school basketball, Springfield lost to Cincinnati La Salle and Versailles (with Ohio State commit Justin Ahrens) lost to Roger Bacon. 

The Versailles girls and defending champion Alter are part of the OHSAA state tournament this weekend in Columbus… 

And finally if you’re hankering for some college football, Miami University coach Chuck Martin had an interesting message for his RedHawks as they got their spring drills underway. 

“Spring is a little time to be selfish and hone your game and try to get as big a piece of the pie for next fall. If everybody does that and works on their game, we’re going to become a lot better team, and we’ll work on the roles in the fall.” 

(H/T CoachingSearch.com

The RedHawks are coming off a 6-7 season in which they nearly knocked off Mississippi State in a bowl game. 

Top returning MBC softball hitters

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 3:08 PM

Hannah Morrison of Yellow Springs is the MBC’s leading returning hitter. FILE

The top returning Metro Buckeye Conference high school softball hitters, according to 2016 conference stats:

1. Hannah Morrison, sr., Yellow Springs: 28 of 47 (.596); 24 runs, 16 RBI’s, 21 SB.

2. Lauren Reece, sr., Middletown Christian: 18 of 31 (.581); 12 runs, 11 RBI’s, 12 SB.

GWOC: Top returning hitters

3. Kadie Lafferty, jr., Yellow Springs: 15 of 29 (.517); 15 runs, 6 RBI’s, 20 SB.

4. Jada Long, sr., Middletown Christian: 15 of 30 (.500); 14 runs, 6 RBI’s, 14 SB.

SWBL: Top returning hitters

5. Hannah Spahr, sr., Middletown Christian: 13 of 31 (.419); 19 runs, 6 RBI’s, 25 SB.

6. Danny Horton, sr., Yellow Springs: 15 of 37 (.405); 10 runs, 7 RBI’s, 6 SB.

GCL CO-ED NORTH: Top returning hitters

7. Elly Kumbusky, so., Yellow Springs: 16 of 40 (.400); 11 runs, 8 RBI’s, 14 SB.

8. Gracie Price, jr., Yellow Springs: 17 of 47 (.362); 17 runs, 14 RBI’s, 16 SB.

CBC: Top returning hitters

9. Alyssa Colon, sr., Dayton Christian: 15 of 42 (.357); 7 runs, 8 RBI’s.

10. Lauryn DeWine, so., Yellow Springs: 11 of 32 (.344); 9 runs, 5 RBI’s, 2 SB.

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Top returning CBC softball hitters

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 5:32 PM

Kenton Ridge sophomore Lexee Trainer ranks No. 5 among leading returning CBC hitters. STAFF

The top returning Central Buckeye Conference high school softball hitters, according to 2016 conference stats:

1. Sammi Miller, sr., Indian Lake: 60 of 95 (.632); 46 runs, 27 RBI’s, 27 SB.

2. Ashley Fite, so., Tecumseh: 56 of 91 (.615); 26 runs, 54 RBI’s, 3 SB.

GWOC: Top returning hitters in Greater Western Ohio Conference

3. Tahlsa Bowshier, sr., Ben Logan: 26 of 57 (.456); 13 runs, 18 RBI’s, 1 SB.

4. Janna Robbins, jr., Northwestern: 45 of 102 (.441); 10 runs, 34 RBI’s, 2 SB.

SWBL: Top returning hitters in Southwestern Buckeye League

5. Lexee Trainer, so., Kenton Ridge: 37 of 84 (.440); 24 runs, 26 RBI’s.

6. Madison Bryant, jr., Graham: 39 of 91 (.429); 34 runs, 20 RBI’s, 1 SB.

GCL NORTH: Top returning hitters in Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North

7. Makenna Loveless, jr., Spg. Shawnee: 34 of 81 (.420); 25 runs, 13 RBI’s, 2 SB.

8. Brook Ehling, jr., Kenton Ridge: 37 of 89 (.416); 27 runs, 23 RBI’s, 1 SB.

MBC: Top returning hitters in Metro Buckeye Conference

9. Abbie Tuttle, jr., Spg. Shawnee: 41 of 99 (.414); 31 runs, 37 RBI’s, 1 SB.

10. Arian McNeil, sr., Greenon: 37 of 90 (.411); 29 runs, 20 RBI’s.

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Top returning SWBL softball hitters

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 10:23 PM

Monroe’s Faith Hensley is the SWBL’s leading returning hitter. FILE

The top returning Southwestern Buckeye League high school softball hitters, according to 2016 conference stats:

1. Faith Hensley, jr., Monroe: 36 of 63 (.571); 40 runs, 54 RBI’s, 8 SB.

2. Olivia Kelly, jr., Franklin: 21 of 39 (.542); 11 runs, 16 RBI’s.

GWOC: Top returning Greater Western Ohio Conference hitters

3. McKinlee Ruppert, so., Dixie: 45 of 84 (.536); 31 runs, 22 RBI’s, 5 SB.

4. Skylar Stiles, sr., Waynesville: 44 of 83 (.530); 21 runs, 22 RBI’s, 12 SB.

GCL NORTH: Top returning hitters in Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North

5. Samantha Key, sr., Monroe: 21 of 41 (.512); 13 runs, 16 RBI’s.

6. Becca Mowen, so., Eaton: 44 of 86 (.512); 24 runs, 44 RBI’s, 4 SB.

CBC: Top returning hitters in Central Buckeye Conference

7. Alexis Arnold, sr., Monroe: 30 of 59 (.508); 27 runs, 33 RBI’s, 8 SB.

8. Sarah Jones, sr., Waynesville: 49 of 102 (.480); 24 runs, 14 RBI’s, 17 SB.

MBC: Top returning hitters in Metro Buckeye Conference

9. Sierra Bolen, so., Carlisle: 33 of 69 (.478); 23 runs, 16 RBI’s.

10. Taylor Jacobs, sr., Milton-Union: 19 of 40 (.475); 17 runs, 4 RBI’s, 3 SB.

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

Top returning GWOC softball hitters

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 10:47 PM

Beavercreek’s Cierra Chastain (pitching) batted .475 last season. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The top returning Greater Western Ohio Conference high school softball hitters, according to 2016 conference stats:

1. Emily Kepple, jr., Miamisburg: 41 of 71 (.577); 12 runs, 26 RBI’s, 4 SB.

2. Sophie Weber, so., Springboro: 45 of 84 (.536); 27 runs, 35 RBI’s, 9 SB.

SWBL: Top returning hitters in Southwestern Buckeye League

3. Alexis Gordon, sr., Piqua: 44 of 84 (.543); 46 runs, 16 RBI’s, 24 SB.

4. Madison Mills, sr., West Carrollton: 31 of 61 (.508); 18 runs, 18 RBI’s.

GCL North: Top returning hitters in Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North

5. Katie Henry, jr., Vandalia-Butler: 32 of 67 (.478); 15 runs, 22 RBI’s, 2 SB.

6. Cierra Chastain, sr., Beavercreek: 48 of 101 (.475); 25 runs, 24 RBI’s, 3 SB.

CBC: Top returning hitters in Central Buckeye Conference

7. Savannah Nelson, jr., Troy: 41 of 87 (.471); 28 runs, 46 RBI’s.

8. Cassie Cromwell, jr., Greenville: 46 of 98 (.469); 30 runs, 32 RBI’s, 4 SB.

MBC: Top returning hitters in Metro Buckeye Conference

9. Morgan Santos, sr., Wayne: 41 of 91 (.451); 28 runs, 11 RBI’s, 6 SB.

10. Hallie Westerbeck, so., Sidney: 18 of 40 (.450); 13 runs, 11 RBI’s, 2 SB.

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton