Sports Scene: Day-Air Ballpark great for high school games


Russia and neighboring rival Versailles traveled a long way to play each other on April 1. Despite the drive and cold, gusty conditions, I don’t think either minded.

The two were the first area teams to play at Day-Air Ballpark this season. The Dayton Dragons’ stadium, formerly known as Fifth-Third Field, usually hosts upwards of 20 high school games each season.

I think I’ve covered almost every Shelby County baseball team there in the last six years, and before coming here, I covered many Springfield- and Dayton-area teams there. There have been some exciting games, including Sidney’s late innings rally against Washington Court House last year.

It’s an experience second to none for high school baseball, right up there with playing a late-stage tournament game at a college or one of the AAA or AA minor league fields elsewhere in the state. The Dragons organize everything well and make it a big deal for the players, including by taking a team photo under the scoreboard before warmups.

If you’re a fan, nothing beats being able to watch a high school game from a chair-back seat right behind home plate (and the extensive netting means you don’t have to worry about dodging a foul ball, unlike most high school fields).

The Dragons have hosted high school games for 18 straight years. Teams can participate through fundraising by selling Dragons tickets.

Admission is free for the high school games, though you do have to acquire a ticket through the Dragons’ website in order to attend. (Which is an annoying recent change; you used to be able to simply walk in.)

Among the other 14 games scheduled for the next month at Day-Air Ballpark, Botkins is scheduled to face Lima Perry at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 21 and Houston is scheduled to face Lehman Catholic at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 9.

If you do go, Sidney Daily News photographer Luke Gronneberg reported to me the Dragons’ concession stands sold only hot dogs, nachos, candy and pop — all at professional sporting event prices. So perhaps plan to eat at one of the several restaurants that now surrounds the ballpark before or after, most of which have opened in the last several years as the area around the park has been gentrified.

If my history there is any indication, games scheduled for the park are normally competitive.

Russia and Versailles’ matchup didn’t lack drama. The Raiders looked just like they did through their Division IV state championship run last year. They calmed down after a rocky start, started blasting line drives, rallied and beat the Tigers 6-3.

One thing that was new this year at Day-Air Ballpark: the field was in the worst shape I’ve ever seen it. Almost every yard in Sidney was greener than that field was on April Fool’s Day. And I’ve seen the field plenty of games there early in the season before (including the Dragons’ home opener in 2017) to have comparison points.

We’ll see if some sun and rain helps before Botkins’ game.

Two area basketball players to play at Ohio Northern University

Sidney senior Lexee Brewer announced on social media earlier this week she is going to play for Ohio Northern University’s womens team.

Brewer, a guard, suffered a season-ending knee injury five games into her junior season and returned to the court this winter after a lengthy rehabilitation process. She averaged 4.5 points, 3.3 steals and 3.3 assists per game for the Yellow Jackets. She was a four-year starter and averaged more than 10 points per game in her sophomore and junior seasons.

Brewer, who was also a soccer standout for the Yellow Jackets, is the only player in the girls basketball program’s history to have over 300 of each steals, rebounds and assists in a career and over 500 points.

Lehman Catholic senior Justin Chapman will sign to play for Ohio Northern’s mens basketball team on April 19 at Schlater Family Gymnasium.

Chapman, a 6-foot-8 center, was a four-year starter for the Cavaliers. He averaged 13.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game this year. He was a third team all-Southwest district selection in Div. IV and honorable mention all-Ohio in D-IV.

Billing has been the sports editor of the Sidney Daily News since 2017. He can be reached at [email protected].

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