Seth Lonsway started out in Little League, working his way through the baseball ranks with his teammates. They’ve played nearly as many games together as Lonsway has career varsity strikeouts. It’s that bond that’s helped put the Bulldogs in the hunt for the Western Buckeye League championship.
Fort Loramie – These days it’s easy to tell when Celina High School senior Seth Lonsway is starting on the mound for the Bulldogs. The bleachers look like a convention for traffic cops.
“Last (Friday) night he had 17 radar guns pointing at him,” said his father Donovan Lonsway.
Like those major league scouts, Donovan has witnessed Seth’s 94-mph fastball from the safety of the bleachers. And with a backstop fence providing additional comfort.
Stepping into the batter’s box to experience the real thing? Well, that made Donovan appreciated the Ohio State University recruit’s live left-arm even more.
“You hear it first, then you see it,” Donovan said, a grin streaking across his face. “Then you hear it go behind you. You don’t see it very long.”
Opponents can relate. Lonsway struck out 17 of the 18 St. Henry batters he faced in a 4-0 win on April 3. He struck out 17 again in a 1-0 win against Lima Bath in a two-hit, complete-game victory.
In his most recent outing on Friday, Lonsway allowed two hits and struck out nine through six innings in a 1-0 win at Defiance.
Through 15 games this season Lonsway is 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA in four starts. He’s allowed seven hits and one run in 24 innings pitched, with six walks and 55 strikeouts. He’s also approaching 200 career strikeouts after breaking Jake Sutter’s school record of 183 that stood since 1996.
“Everybody wants to go see him. He’s probably going to be one of the best pitchers – if not the best – to come out of Celina and maybe the league,” Celina coach Andy Mikesell said. “We have a lot of seniors and they’ve been a successful group. We’ve had really good support even when he’s not on the mound.”
“I try not to think about it too much, all the hype and everything around me,” Lonsway said. “Just go out and play hard. Give it all I’ve got. That’s what I’ve done since I was little. It’s a team game. Nine guys, that’s what it takes.”
Lonsway is one of eight seniors on the Bulldogs roster. Starting in Little League and working their way through the baseball ranks they’ve played nearly as many games together as Lonsway has career varsity strikeouts. It’s that bond that’s helped put the Bulldogs in the hunt for the Western Buckeye League championship. Celina (13-2 overall, 5-0 WBL) hosts Wapakoneta (13-2, 6-0 WBL) on Tuesday.
“Just getting to play every day with your buds. It’s been really great growing up with these guys and getting to play summer ball and travel ball with them,” Lonsway said.
“Team chemistry is everything. We’re with each other a lot. We keep it pretty laid back and we have fun.”
It’s easier to do when Lonsway is on your team’s side. In addition to his fastball, the future Buckeye throws a curveball (71-73 mph), changeup (74-75) and a slider (71-74).
With his outing Friday night Lonsway didn’t pitch Saturday at the Fort Loramie Invitational. Celina split its two games with an 8-3 loss to Minster in the opener and a 20-6 win over Elida in the consolation game.
Lonsway – who contributed a double and three runs batted overall on Saturday – is also one of the team’s most dangerous hitters. Entering Saturday he led the Bulldogs in average (.568), runs (14), RBI (14), doubles (8) and stolen bases (7).
“I’ve always taken pride in my hitting. Not just selling myself short of being a pitcher,” Lonsway said. “Being a complete player. Play every position. Hit wherever it takes to help the team.
“It’s definitely been fun this year. Obviously I get a lot of attention. It’s cool and all. But it’s going out and playing hard and not thinking about it. Doing what I’ve known since growing up.”
For Lonsway, he started to realize his baseball potential around his freshman season telling himself, “Okay I can do something here. Let’s be serious about this.”
His parents realized it a year or two earlier when “he started putting up 12, 13, 14 strikeouts a game,” Donovan said.
Lonsway got serious about his workouts. He started eating the right foods. And this off-season he worked with former Milwaukee Brewers prospect and current University of Northwestern Ohio pitching coach Brian Garman, adding about 15 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame.
“He’s worked his butt off since he was a freshman. His work ethic turned him into the pitcher he is,” Mikesell said.
“It’s been fun to watch him grow and mature, put in the hard work and finally see it start to pay off,” added Donovan Lonsway. “He’s got a great supporting staff around him. The coaches and community have been awesome.”
Talk to Seth Lonsway for a short amount of time and he turns the conversation back to his teammates and his family. Ask him about his 17 strikeouts and he credits teammates for scoring him runs. Ask him about his offense and he says anything to help the team. Ask him about what he does with free time and he’ll mention hunting with his dad or even playing toss in the yard.
“Show it on the field. Don’t talk about it. Stay humble. Stay out of trouble,” Lonsway said of what his parents Donovan and Marta have instilled in him. “They’ve been very passionate about making it to all my games and supporting me. They’ve put a lot of miles on the road during travel ball. It’s a tough schedule for them. They’ve been great.”
Around the second or third grade one of Lonsway’s teachers asked the class to write a paper on what they wanted to be when they grew up. Lonsway wrote about being a major league pitcher. So far the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers have shown the most interest.
His parents have done their best to keep the pressure away from their son, often having a family representative dealing with the scouts. They’re advice to Seth?
“You’re a Celina Bulldog. You’re not a Buckeye yet. Your focus is on your teammates and your program. Whatever is meant to be will be,” Donovan said of wanting Seth to enjoy his final season of high school. “His mom and I have always instilled in him that he’s just a person. He’s our son first and a baseball player second. Baseball doesn’t define him. It’s not who he is. It’s just a game he likes and he’s had success at it.
“Go chase some pretty girls and come home late like 17- and 18-year old kids are supposed to do.”
This season, thanks to Lonsway and those eight other seniors, it’s been the crowds chasing the Bulldogs. Bleachers are fuller these days. And seating is becoming a premium when Lonsway pitches.
“They’re such a good group together. He blends in great. He’s very respectful and he appreciates everything he has,” Mikesell said. “We’re going to miss him more as a person than we are as a player. And you know how good of a player he is so that’s saying something.”