First-year Canal Winchester High School baseball coach Jay Bartos feels like his team has a more powerful lineup than it had the previous five years when he was part of the program as an assistant coach.

First-year Canal Winchester High School baseball coach Jay Bartos feels like his team has a more powerful lineup than it had the previous five years when he was part of the program as an assistant coach.

Nevertheless, Bartos isn't planning on abandoning the small-ball style of offense that former coach Jason Vest utilized during his three-year tenure before stepping down last summer for personal reasons.

The Indians finished 21-6 overall last season after losing to Hartley 6-5 in a Division II district semifinal.

"Just like Jason's teams of the past, we're going to play small ball," said Bartos, whose team opens Tuesday, March 29, at DeSales. "Small ball is a lost art in the era of steroid baseball, but when we went to the state final (in 2008), we bunted probably 20 percent of the time to get there. We have some power and we're going to use it when the situation calls for it, but we're going to try to make those styles mix. If we do that successfully, we'll be in great shape."

The Indians return six starters in seniors Drew Black (SS/P), Jordan Boggs (1B/DH), Garrett Brown (LF), Tim Hawkins (RF), Trey Kiser (3B/P) and Derrick Petruskevich (C).

Senior Dustin Williamson and junior David Hawkins are vying to start at second base and junior Zach Petty will make some starts at first base.

Black is expected to be the Indians' No. 1 pitcher. Junior Chris Angle and Kiser are competing for the No. 2 pitcher slot and junior left-hander Connor Kaib is expected to see significant time on the mound as well.

Rounding out the team are senior Chaz Palmer (OF) and juniors Zach Petty (1B/P), John Sharp (OF/P) and Alex Yantis (OF/P).

"Our top three pitchers are really good and we've got some good defensive players, too," Bartos said.

The Indians tied Circleville for first in the MSL-Buckeye Division last season at 11-3, ahead of Bloom-Carroll (9-5), Logan Elm (9-5), Hamilton Township (6-8), Fairfield Union (4-10), Amanda-Clearcreek (3-11) and Teays Valley (3-11).

Seeded third for the district tournament, Canal Winchester had a first-round bye and defeated London 11-10 in the second round before getting upset by fifth-seeded Hartley.

The Indians had reached the state final in 2008 and a state semifinal in 2009.

"It's hard not to shoot for the goals of winning our conference and district every year after doing so well in 2008 and 2009," Bartos said. "As long as we can get this team to hit, the recipe to go far in the tournament is there, because we have the pitching and defense to get it done."

•The softball team features six returning starters in seniors Mariah Bonner (C), Andrea Peer (1B) and Emily Wynkoop (OF), and juniors Lauren Arndt (P), Angela Steube (3B) and Morgan White (SS).

White was second-team all-league a year ago.

Rounding out the team and competing for playing time at multiple positions are junior Samantha Knode, sophomores Hannah Barnhart, Maygan Beeler, Alyxis Moore, Evie Wentzel and Kaleigh Whitlatch, and freshman Mariah Rock.

"This is the first time I've ever had to deal with having only one pitcher," said 11th-year coach Randy Hinton, whose squad finished 20-8 overall a year ago. "In past years, I like to have our starter pitch four or five innings and then have our second pitcher finish games. Lauren's a good pitcher and I think she's ready to take on the responsibility of pitching every game, but we need to be prepared to have a lot more support for our pitcher, both offensively and defensively."

Canal Winchester tied Circleville for third in the MSL-Buckeye Division last season at 9-5, behind Teays Valley (13-1) and Logan Elm (11-3), and ahead of Bloom-Carroll (8-6), Amanda-Clearcreek (3-11), Fairfield Union (3-11) and Hamilton Township (0-14).

Seeded third, the Indians opened the Division II district tournament with a 20-0 win over Columbus South in the second round and beat seventh-seeded Licking Valley 7-2 in a semifinal before losing to second-seeded Lakewood 8-0 in a final.

"We went to the regional final and lost two years ago, and we want to win it this year along with our league," Hinton said. "Lauren has come a long way since her freshman year and so have a lot of her teammates, so I think we can be somewhere in the mix for those championships if we play to our potential."