One year ago, the Canal Winchester High School baseball team captured the attention of central Ohio high school sports fans by making an unexpected and thrilling trip to the Division II state final.

One year ago, the Canal Winchester High School baseball team captured the attention of central Ohio high school sports fans by making an unexpected and thrilling trip to the Division II state final.

The Indians beat Cambridge 4-2 and rallied to knock off Steubenville 9-5 in the regional at Zanesville, then conquered Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 6-5 in a state semifinal before losing to powerhouse Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 6-0 in the title game. With an experienced group of players back, it is not a surprise that Canal Winchester is back in the regional.

Two of those experience players are seniors Tyler Steube and Wes White, and both talk exuberantly about their teammates.

"Baseball is a sport that truly brings you together," Steube said. "There are nine players on the field and one designated hitter, but it takes everyone on the bench to be successful and that is how we are at this level. Our win-loss record is pretty good, but our club is not about numbers and more about just having fun together because we all grew up together."

White agreed.

"It is a big thing right now that we have the majority of guys back from last year," he said.

"We are playing off of our experience and that helps. Last year we didn't finish the regular season well and then made the great run in the tournament which everyone remembers, but we can use that experience to keep some of the pressure off of us this year. We have learned that if we get behind in a game that there is no need to panic and our coaches' philosophy is using bunting, running, defense and pitching to make our mark and it has worked well."

Steube and White are hoping for another shot at a state title and this time finishing the journey they started a year ago.

"I think we became a little bit star-struck in the state final," White said.

"We finally made the big time and played on the big stage and didn't play our best, but now we have been there before and we have the talent, the execution and the belief that we are one of the best teams in the state."

"Last year was a Cinderella story and I don't think we appreciated how great the situation was, but we are in a similar position now and maybe we understand how much work it has taken to get here and every game now could be the last one we play together, which should motivate us even more," Steube said.

"At this level there is a great sense of excitement, your heart pounds faster, there is more adrenaline and it is the time to turn the swag on."

As they near the end of their careers at Canal Winchester, White and Steube said these years have been something they will remember always.

"Baseball has taught me to be a better leader and to have more confidence, but baseball is about believing in yourself even though you fail 60 to 70 percent of the time and it is always about brotherhood within your ranks," White said.

"I will always remember my teammates and our work together."

"My teammates are the guys you would like to spend your whole life with," Steube said. "You are in the dugout with them and you grow to know that there are no limits to what you can do if you work hard."

Good luck to Canal Winchester and to all the central Ohio baseball teams competing this weekend.

I'll see you at a game.