Cyclones' improved strength, skills on display in season opener

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

It was a night of celebration for the Ottawa High School baseball team.

The Cyclones were on the field playing a game for the first time since the end of 2019. Ottawa opened the campaign Monday with two dominating performances. Ottawa topped Bonner Springs, 16-3 and 10-2.

The victory in the opener was Ottawa coach Shawn Herrmann’s 250th win.

The Ottawa coach liked what he saw from the Cyclones and was surprised at how well they hit.

“We have been practicing for a [month], our defense and pitching has looked really good,” Herrmann said. “Our hitting has been our [concern]. Last night, we proved we could hit. It was huge for our confidence. We were excited to play.”

Herrmann said the players have worked on their baseball skills and body since 2019.

“A lot of [them] worked really hard in the off season and past [month],” he said. “We have kids that are stronger, faster and throw harder. They have been in the weight room a lot. You can definitely tell the difference.

“We have a lot of strong arms. Throwing against the wind, you could see the arm strength. It was a huge benefit for us.”

Ottawa has a strong baseball tradition from the little leagues through the high school program.

“We have a lot of good baseball players,” Herrmann said. “One of our strengths is our kids have gotten along real well. The kids are not thinking of themselves. They are picking each other up. We have very versatile and athletic [players]. This could be a special year, if we keep doing what we are doing.”

The hitters were patient at the plate and aggressive on the bases, which paid off in the season-opening sweep.

“We have been preaching being a team player,” Herrmann said. “We had guys that could have swung at pitches out of the zone. Being patient at the plate was big.

“We were aggressive on stealing and pass balls. When they missed the relay man, we took extra bases. We have been preaching being more aggressive.”

Ottawa (2-0) plays Friday and Saturday in the Fort Scott Tournament. The Cyclones play 1 p.m. Friday against Fort Scott and follows against Piper. Ottawa concludes the tourney Saturday against either Pittsburg, Tonganoxie or Blue Valley North.