The Dublin Scioto High School baseball team just completed its second season of a rebuilding process under second-year coach Scott Marple.

The Dublin Scioto High School baseball team just completed its second season of a rebuilding process under second-year coach Scott Marple.

A year ago, Marple replaced all but three starters with a group of sophomores and freshmen, thinking the move would help the team grow together and that cohesion would eventually be a tough bond for opponents to crack when the players matured into seniors and juniors.

The plan paid dividends a year ahead of schedule, as the Irish, without a senior, reached a Division I district championship before losing to Newark 5-0 on May 21 to finish 14-11.

The Irish reached the final by winning two games in extra innings. Scioto, which wasn't seeded for the district tournament, defeated fourth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 5-4 in 12 innings in the second round May 15 and then beat Teays Valley 8-7 in eight innings in a semifinal May 19.

"We got a lot of good experience making a deep tournament run," junior David McKinley said. "Coach Marple told us last year when he started us as freshmen and sophomores that it was going to pay off, and I think it did this year."

Most of that team also played together in American Legion for Dublin Post 800S last summer, so when this season began, the core group of players had played more than 50 games together.

But there were still some questions that needed answered. How would a young team play in clutch situations? Who would take over as the top pitcher after 2007 graduate Mike Woytek left to play at Wright State?

"I think we showed growth by responding to adversity," said Marple following the win over Teays Valley. "We have guys in our lineup who would be better served playing junior varsity this year because it's not as fast, but we have to have them on varsity so they experience failure at a higher level a little quicker. Part of building them into high school athletes is getting them to handle that and be able to bounce back."

Junior Eric Stamets -- who was a starter at shortstop as a freshman on the senior-laden 2006 team which finished 27-3 overall -- became the top pitcher this year.

The Irish were in the race for the OCC-Capital Division title until the final week of the season. They ended up tying Olentangy Liberty for third in the league at 6-4 behind New Albany (8-2) and Watkins Memorial (8-2). Franklin Heights was fifth at 2-8 followed by Big Walnut (0-10).

Liberty was the only league team to sweep Scioto, as the Patriots won 3-2 on May 5 after scoring 11 runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat Scioto 22-6 in the first round April 16.

The Irish split against Watkins Memorial and New Albany and swept Big Walnut and Franklin Heights.

Next season after the OCC again realigns, Scioto's league opponents will include Liberty, Dublin Jerome, Marysville, Olentangy and all three Westerville schools.

In addition to Stamets, juniors expected back are Lee Brown, Korey Cooper, Patrick Hart, Mike Henderson, David McKinley, Josh Neace, and Andy Shumaker. The sophomores expected to return are Seth Eller, Nick Gestaldo, Thomas Hayes, Matt Martin, Brandon Marker and Charlie Suich.

Eller and Suich have started every game for the past two seasons and Martin has also played regularly as both a freshman and sophomore.

Marple called Shumaker one of the team's most versatile players and Henderson and Neace are expected to solidify the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the rotation.

Irish starter Korey Cooper tosses the ball to coach Scott Marple after being pulled from the game.

At a glance

•Record: 14-11 overall, 6-4 (tied third) in OCC-Capital

•Seniors lost: None

•Key returnees: Seth Eller, Mike Henderson, Matt Martin, Josh Neace, Andy Shumaker, Eric Stamets and Charlie Suich