Although the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team is returning five starters, only two are back at the positions they played last season.

Although the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team is returning five starters, only two are back at the positions they played last season.

In fact, when the Pacers open Monday at Marion Harding, none of the infielders will be playing the same position they were last year on varsity.

"You're supposed to lose your best players every year and then you make adjustments the following year," coach Mike Yinger said.

"Your seniors are your most experienced players and, being in your program for so long, should be your best players. If you're not losing your best players every year, you're not doing something right."

Last season, the Pacers finished 18-7 overall after losing to Pickerington North 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal. It was the Panthers' closest tournament game until they lost to Cincinnati Moeller 5-2 in the state championship.

Delaware finished third at 8-4 in the OCC-Capital Division behind champion Mount Vernon (11-1) and New Albany (9-3) and ahead of Big Walnut (5-7), Olentangy Orange (5-7), Watkins Memorial (4-8) and Franklin Heights (0-12).

The returning starters are seniors Kody Akers and Nate Stuntz, junior Nick Ratliff and sophomores Jacob Bosiokovic and Tyler Miller.

Akers (LF) and Stuntz (CF) are returning to their positions. Bosiokovic is moving from catcher to shortstop and Miller is moving from second base to third base. Ratliff will be starting at first base after being a designated hitter last season.

Bosiokovic was first-team all-district after batting .407 with seven home runs, five doubles, 25 runs and 34 RBI. He was second-team all-league. He will be replacing Caleb Wilburn at shortstop. Wilburn was the Player of the Year in the league, district and state after hitting .529 with 10 home runs, 12 doubles, four triples, 43 runs and 42 RBI. He signed at Belmont University (Nashville, Tenn.) and played well in the fall before transferring to Ohio Dominican.

"Jacob Bosiokovic is a very hard worker who strives for perfection," Yinger said. "There's no such thing as perfection in baseball, but it's nice to see someone want to make himself great."

Akers and Stuntz are the lone seniors on the roster. Akers batted .341 with 21 runs and 14 RBI and Stuntz batted .262 with 21 runs.

"Those two guys are great ones for our young guys to emulate," Yinger said. "Nate has been in the program for four years and is a hard worker, which makes him very valuable. Kody is just a flat-out competitor. He'll do anything to win. That's something that's very valuable, too, teaching our young guys how to compete."

Junior Joe Weirtz is the most experienced pitcher returning and is expected to be the team's No. 1 starter after the graduation loss of Kees Burns (9-2, 2.72 ERA, first-team all-league and all-district). Burns started the season as the team's closer and became its ace.

Yinger also anticipates using Bosiokovic, Miller and Ratliff, as well as juniors Brandon Johnson and Tyler Dennis and sophomore Jake Wright. Dennis is the lone left-handed pitcher.

"I don't know if all of them think they are pitchers, but with Joe Weirtz being our only varsity pitcher with experience, we're searching," Yinger said. "We've got those guys, and we'll see who develops, much like we did last year with Burns."

Vying to fill infield positions are junior Alex Boger and freshman Alex Rafeld at catcher and junior Troy Willis and sophomore Kenton Ulmer at second base.

Battling for time in the outfield are freshman Justin VanHoesen and junior Kyle Winston. Also expected to see action in the outfield when not pitching are Dennis and Wright. Weirtz could also play first base and Ratliff also could see time at catcher.

"I'm excited to see how some of these guys respond," Yinger said. "I think Miller can really develop well and Ratliff worked hard on his swing and could take it to the next level. Weirtz could become a real leader and I'm excited to see Ulmer and Johnson as well."

At a glance

•Coach: Mike Yinger, sixth season

•Opener: Monday at Marion Harding

•Key players: Kody Akers, Jacob Bosiokovic, Tyler Miller, Nick Ratliff, Nate Stuntz and Joe Weirtz

SCHEDULE

March 29 at Marion Harding

March 31 vs. Bexley

April 1 vs. Hamilton Township

April 2 vs. Grandview (DH)

*April 5 vs. Franklin Heights

*April 7 at Mount Vernon

April 8 vs. West

*April 9 at Watkins Memorial

April 10 at Lancaster (DH)

*April 12 vs. Big Walnut

April 13 vs. Westland

*April 14 at Hilliard Bradley

*April 15 at New Albany

April 17 vs. Bloom-Carroll and vs. Fairport Harding in Fritz Daniel Classic

*April 19 vs. Olentangy Orange

*April 21 at Franklin Heights

*April 23 vs. Mount Vernon

April 24 at St. Charles

*April 26 vs. Watkins Memorial

*April 28 at Big Walnut

April 29 vs. Worthington Christian

*April 30 vs. Bradley

*May 3 vs. New Albany

*May 5 at Orange

May 6 vs. London

May 7 vs. Marion Elgin

May 8 at Dresden Tri-Valley vs. Tri-Valley and vs. Lake

*OCC-Capital game