Casey and Collin Lowe are two of the key components of Hiland’s 2021 baseball team, 24-4 and winners in nine of their last 10 contests. As the Hawks continue their quest to be champions in the OHSAA’s District, both are playing important roles.
Casey has been a mainstay at the No. 2 spot in Coach Chris Dages’ line-up, and superb both as a starter and relief pitcher. He hurled a no-hitter, first in his career, when Hiland shut out Conotton Valley 10-0 on May 19. He fanned 11 batters, walked four, and threw first-pitch strikes more than 75 percent of the time in the contest.
“I’ve had a few one hitters, but there was always that little blooper (single) that ended it,” Casey says in reflecting on the no-hitter. “It felt good to get one at last. Pitching is my favorite position. I like being in control of the situation, starting the action and setting the pace for the game and for our defense. I feel I do that effectively when I’m on the mound. Our defense really responds well, and that flows into our hitting game as well.”
On the mound, Casey has a 5-3 record and a 2.24 ERA. He’s second on the team next to Derrick Troyer in wins and innings pitched, and leads the Hawks with 63 strikeouts. He’s known for having a strong fastball as well as a slider.
Two people Casey credits for his pitching and hitting success are teammate Isaiah Miller, senior catch and infield coach Richie Mast.
“Isaiah is spectacular at pitch calls and locations. He’s and I have really good chemistry, and he’s also made a terrific connection with the other pitchers on the team,” Casey explains. “I think we really shined when I came on in relief and we beat Triway 7-6 at Canal Park (on April 20). Isaiah’s calls on both pitch sequence and location were just outstanding. He had the game-winning hit that night also. He’s a great all-around player, and he’s one of the reasons we’re doing so well.”
Mast motivates Casey and the other players to give their most. “Coach Richie is a guy who pushes us, and expects the best out of us ever single day,” Casey says. “Sometimes it’s the little things, such as working hard in the weight room or keeping our composure at the plate. He is also really good at explaining to us what’s going well, and what we need to fix.”
Right now there’s little Casey needs to “fix” when he’s at the plate. His batting average is .392. He leads the team in runs scored (37), and is one of the team leaders with 14 walks. A prototype No. 2 hitter, Casey also has a team-high five sacrifice bunts/hits and carries a .442 runners in scoring position (RISP) average. He’s also third on the team with 33 RBIs.
In Friday’s (May 21) 6-5 win over Waynedale, Casey collected three hits and also scored twice. He’s one of only six Hawks who have played in all 28 games this season.
“Casey is one of the biggest competitors on our team” Coach Dages says. “He wants the ball in big situations and he expects a lot from himself, both at the plate and on the mound. He has worked extremely hard in the off-season, and he’s put himself in the best possible position to succeed.”
Whether he’s in right field or on the mound, Casey knows that Hiland’s defense is more solid when his fraternal twin brother Collin is also in the infield. One of the teams’ top gloves with a .977 fielding average, Collin has played mostly second base and occasionally at shortstop as well.
After a good sophomore year, and then suffering through the loss of his junior year due to Covid-19, Collin was hoping to have a stellar senior season. But he broke the thumb on his right hand in the team’s fifth game of the season vs. Tuscarawas Valley on April 8.
‘I didn’t think I’d hurt it (my thumb) so badly at first, and in retrospect I was lucky in that I was only out for four weeks,” Collin says. I’m happy because I’ve been able to return to the line-up and make some important contributions to the team.
But even while sitting on the bench through rehabilitation, Collin was having an important impact for the Hawks.
“Throughout his time on the disabled list Collin remained positive, supported his teammates from the dugout and participated in practices as much as he was able, often throwing soft-toss to his teammates, Coach Dages says.
“He became a different type of leader,” Casey says of his teammate brother. “He kept encouraging us to play great defense, and he made certainly we were focused mentally on every situation in every inning while he was in the dugout.
Collin is hitting .348 for the Hawks, and he credits some of that to Coach Wes Miller. “Coach Wes is super helpful and very encouraging. Once I wasn’t hitting very well and he helped me out of a slump when I hit a triple in a game, my first one ever,” Collin recalls. “He’s a great asset to us.”
Both Lowe brothers also credit another person for their success, their dad Scott. “He’s been both father and coach to us for many years, and he taught us so many fine points of the game,” Collins says. “It was a big plus for Casey and me to have him as our coach all the way through the eighth grade.”
Dages is grateful to have Collin back in the line-up as the Hawks pursue a return to the State Tournament. “Collin’s energy and glove add a lot to our defense on the infield,’ he says. Getting his bat and his speed on the bases back is also a huge lift, a bonus for our line-up.”
As Hiland faces District Semis and (possibly) Finals this week, Collin is also harboring hopes for continued success for the team.
“I’m playing for a State win, for great memories, and for my teammates,” he says. “I would love to see us get to and win State and for my brother to get All Ohio honors. I’m hoping that my biggest game of 2021 is yet to come, State Finals.”
Shenandoah HS, Hiland’s opponent, advanced to the District Semi-Finals by coming from behind to defeat Frontier HS 9-5 on Wednesday (May 19). The Shenondoah Zeps are led by first year head coach Tyler Engle. Starting pitcher Dayton Hill hurled a four-hitter in his team’s Sectional triumph. Based in Sarahsville, Shenandoah is in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, and has a 9-12 enrollment of about 220 students.