Norton and Springfield have taken different routes to reach Thursday’s Division II district semifinal baseball games at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium in Canton.
Norton (13-4) is the No. 1 seed and will meet No. 4 Canton South at 2 p.m.
Springfield (10-11) is the No. 8 seed and will meet No. 6 Alliance at 5 p.m.
The winning teams will play in the district final at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Norton coach Rod Swartz said sophomore shortstop Geoff Snyder is the Panthers top hitter at .416. Snyder joins sophomore first baseman Robby Robinson, junior second baseman Anthony Duncan and junior third baseman Will Duncan in the infield.
Senior Austin Labany and sophomore Mitch Zimmerman share the catcher position for the Panthers, and senior Jimmy Keys is the designated hitter.
Norton’s outfield consists of senior left fielder Jake Fling (.368 batting average), senior center fielder Drake Gable and a right field platoon of juniors Brad Zimmerman and Logan Pasterchek and sophomore Cole Edgell.
Norton relies on four pitchers: Edgell (4-0, 1.80 ERA), junior Jackson Buda (5-2, 1.31 ERA), sophomore Tucker Cavanaugh (3-1, two saves, 1.21 ERA) and Pasterchek (1-0, two saves).
Swartz said seniors Ryan Hunter and Donnie Berube also contribute for Norton, who defeated fifth-seeded Northwest 4-2 in a sectional final on May 19.
“This is first time in a little while we have had a lot of depth,” Swartz said. “Our guys have never really gotten in sync with all the weather issues, but we have some really good seniors and we also are pretty young with several juniors and sophomores making an impact.”
Springfield coach Scott Swan said junior pitcher-first baseman Collin Floyd is 2-2 pitching with a 1.97 ERA and has scored 12 runs and has a team-high 15 RBI.
Spartans freshman center fielder Cole Meyers is hitting .321 with 10 RBI and 12 runs. Seniors Michael Perkins (left) and Brendon Howiler (right) join Meyers in the outfield.
The Spartans infield consists of sophomore third baseman Niko Ballantyne, junior shortstop Racco DiLauro, junior second baseman Ryan Vaughn, sophomore first baseman Tristan Phillips and junior catcher Kyle Stevenson. Senior Shane Robinson is the designated hitter.
Springfield relies on four pitchers: Floyd, Phillips (3-2, two saves, 1.70 ERA), DiLauro (3-2, one save, 2.74 ERA) and junior Collin Hefner (2-3, two saves).
Swan said juniors Sam Collier, Josh Hinkle and Drue Gale also contribute with sophomore Aaron James and freshman Andrew Hanna.
Springfield defeated No. 11 seed Coventry 13-2 in a sectional semifinal on May 13 and then topped second-seeded Marlington 4-1 in a sectional final on May 16.
“It has been hard to get any consistency this year,” Swan said. “We have had more indoor practices this year than I have had in my entire coaching career in any other single season. We have had just a few practices outside.
“We had some solid expectations coming into this year. We were 16-10 last year and we returned seven of our top nine. Collin was injured and was not able to play for five weeks, Shane was out with an injury and with the weather we couldn’t get into a rhythm.”