Strongsville High School has been a breading ground for division one athletes for quite some time. Their baseball team has converted 15 of their players into college quality athletes since manager Josh Sorge took over seven years ago. Shortstop Nate Langhals is the latest addition to the guild.
And rightfully so; the senior shortstop made the leap to the varsity squad as a sophomore and has done nothing but provide in a big way since. Playing in a ‘set the table' role at the top of the lineup on one of Northeast Ohio's premier teams is a task for only the capable. "We had some concerns brining him up so early because we had five division one pitchers on our staff that would put the ball in play, but he outperformed all our expectations," coach Sorge said. "We knew he would be a great infielder."
Nate's soccer career sent strong indications of the potentiality of being a good shortstop.
"I would not be the same player I am today without playing soccer," Langhals said in a phone interview. "I've developed solid footwork that increases my range. I ran mile after mile after mile for soccer, and it has made me better no doubt. It has helped me in the field and on the mound too."
Being a multi sport athlete with a multi-dimensional game has gotten him more playing opportunities. Already having been an asset to the team, Langhals has logged some innings toeing the rubber in addition to starting at the most important defensive position on the diamond. College teams jump at the opportunity to recruit a versatile player. Plus, the Rockets organization has good ties to Strongsville players. A graduate of the class of 2008, outfielder Jeff Cola joined Toledo with aspirations of getting drafted to the pros.
"Every young kid's dream is to get to play ball professionally. But my first goal is to do anything I can to be out on the field when my team needs me," he said. "Jeff is a successful ballplayer, and I would love to follow in his path." Cola was with Strongsville back when they won the State Title in 2006, and helped them come within a game of States again in his senior year.
As for this year, the Mustangs goals are nothing less than that. The division one powerhouse expects to be there in the on a routine basis. However, the past few years have given them trouble down the stretch, but Langhals remains optimistic.
"I'd keep an eye out for us. Our younger guys from junior varsity had an unbelievable season last year, and that success will translate to the varsity stage. They are capable of great things. I'm extra excited to see what we can do this upcoming spring."
One thing to engrave in stone is that Strongsville as a whole has got it where it counts the most. Their mental game is at a whole other level. And that is where it all starts. This team has won games in the past based on pure grit, and Nate has been a bit part of that.
"Coach Sorge has stressed that we need to control our mental part. You have to go deep into games to get wins. The first step is to believe in yourself, no matter what the situation," said Nate. "That is something that will stay fresh in my mind throughout my collegiate career."