GALION — Head coach Phil Jackson has had his fair share of success as the skipper of the Galion Tigers.
Jackson, entering his fifth season with Galion, is the owner of a 63-40 overall record, including 15-10 in 2016 and tied for second place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division behind the Jonathan Alder Pioneers. In 2016, the Tigers were Northwest District, Division III sectional champions and district runner-ups. Amidst the teams’ success, Jackson was also named the Northwest District, Division III Coach of the Year.
Rounding out the coaching staff for Galion are assistant coaches Dan Gorbett, Bart Cass, Brian Vredenburgh, Mike O’Leary and Nate Cass.
Lost to graduation from last year’s squad are: Josh Eckert- three year letterman and all-conference honorable mention; Matt Hardy- three year letter winner, first-team all-district, second-team MOAC, second-team all-Ohio; Tyler Castline- two year letter winner, second-team all-district, second-team MOAC; Nick McDaniel.
The Tigers will see a trio of three year letter winners on their roster this season in the likes of Garrett Kuns, Mac Spears and Ryan Talbott.
Kuns was first-team all-conference a season ago as a pitcher and shortstop with a .329 batting average and a 3-3 record on the mound, toting a 2.42 earned run average. Spears was also a member of the pitching rotation, as well as a second basemen for Galion in ‘16, going 3-1 with a 1.68 E.R.A. Spears also hit .311 at the plate en route to an all-district honorable mention nod. Talbott finished last season with a .292 average and plays the outfield for the Tigers.
Other returning letter winners for Galion are: Seniors Will Donahue (x2) (OF) and Devin Baughn (1st base); Juniors Mitchell Dyer (OF) and Aaron Barnhart (C). Coach Jackson will also look from contributions from senior Bobby Gilbert and 3rd base and designated hitter, Chase Castline in the outfield, and sophomores Cameron Payne and Ryan Utz.
“Great leadership and a very hardworking and dedicated core group of kids is one of our strengths,” states Jackson. “Our pitching shoud also be a strength for us this season to go along with the very good young talent in our program with many young kids challenging for varsity spots this season.”
As for an outlook to the MOAC Red season ahead of them, coach Jackson says,”(It’s) always a very strong league. We expect to have a good year and compete for a championship. Alder is a perennial power and Pleasant, Buckeye Valley and River Valley will all be good again.” The Vikings are one of the teams that Galion found themselves in a tie with for second place a year ago.
Galion will begin the 2017 on a five-game road trip. The first game of the regular season will take place at Buckeye Central on Mon. March 27. From there, it will be Buckeye Valley for the MOAC Red opener (Mar. 29), River Valley (Mar. 31) and then a double header at Willard (April 1). The Tigers will play their first home game of the season on Mon. April 3 against league foe, the Marion Harding Presidents.