NOTE: Hiland will oppose Shenandoah HS on Monday 5/24 in the OHSAA East District Div. IV Semi-Finals at Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School, and EyeOnCleveland is planning to be there. EyeOnCleveland’s John Kerezy caught up with Senior Reece Schlabach prior to the game for this profile.
A batter who has both high average and power. A patient hitter who waits for and then drives his pitch, and who also pounds in a lot of runs with timely hits.
That’s the prescription of the perfect No. 3 hitter in a baseball line-up. It’s also been an apt description for Hiland senior Reece Schlabach in 2021.
Reece is a powerful force behind the Hawks’ 24-4 record this season. He leads Hiland in many important batting categories, including slugging percentage (.0791) and an OPS (on base + slugging) of an amazing 1.32.This means that he is averaging 1.32 total bases every time he comes to the plate.
Add to that a .477 batting average, second on the team next to leadoff hitter Jared Hostetler (.490), and you get a feeling of the importance of Reece’s to Hiland’s offensive production. He also leads the squad in triples (6) and doubles (9) and is tied for the lead with catcher Isaiah Miller in RBIs (38).
“I’m motivated right now to try to be the best version of myself for my team,” Reece says. “We have high expectations in tournament play. I expect the best from my teammates, and they know I’ll give my best too.”
A through-and-through Hawk, Schlabach has played organized ball for 15 years going back to t-ball as a toddler, all of it in and around Hiland. “Most of us have played with each other our while baseball careers, and that helps jell our teamwork,” he adds. “We work hard for our team and to better each other, and that unity makes us very close.”
“There are many different types of leaders on the field and Reece is a leader by example type of player,” Coach Chris Dages says. “He is our three hitter and never backs down in an at bat while seeing the opposing pitcher’s best stuff.”
Time and time again, Reece has come up with big hits to propel the Hawks to victory. On April 27, he blasted a home run, triple, and double, registering five RBIS, in Hiland’s 16-1 triumph over Claymont. On May 14 against Lake Christian, he had three hits and four RBIs to go with three runs scored in a 12-2 victory.
More than just a skilled batter who hits with power, Reece plays third base as well. He’s been a steady and calming influence on the infield, spearing many line drives and turning in strong defensive plays at the hot corner.
“He quietly excels at third base, making all the routine plays and making the tough ones look routine,” Coach Dages adds. “I couldn’t be happier for Reece. The success he’s having, individually and the contributions he’s making to the team’s wins, are all well earned.”
The Inter-Valley Conference recognized the talents of Reece and four other Hawks who were selected for All Conference honors. He and fellow senior centerfielder Hostetler were named to the First Team on Tuesday. Second Team honors went to seniors Isaiah Miller and Derrick Troyer, along with honorable mention to senior Casey Lowe.
Reece is quick to give credit to his coaches and his father for both his love of baseball and his success. “The No.1 person who’s influenced me is my dad Reagan, who coached me from t-ball through middle school and helped make me the play I am,” he explains. “Also, Hiland’s coaches have a great way of challenging and encouraging us all to be the best we can be.”
On a team heavy with experienced seniors, Reece has high aims for the Hawks in the 2021 OHSAA baseball tournament. “We have a very capable team, and we believe we can make it to States this year,” he says. “The other seniors and I want to finish this year strong both on the field and in school.
“We’re in tournament play right now so we’re focusing on one game at a time and giving it our all every game.”