From the time last season ended with a 5-3 loss to Hilliard Darby in a Division I district semifinal, Dublin Jerome High School baseball coach Chris Huesman had been gearing up for what could be one of the program's best seasons.

From the time last season ended with a 5-3 loss to Hilliard Darby in a Division I district semifinal, Dublin Jerome High School baseball coach Chris Huesman had been gearing up for what could be one of the program's best seasons.

Jerome returns the majority of last season's players and has designs on reaching the regional like it did in 2007.

"This reminds me of a lot of the championship teams in the past that I've coached," Huesman said. "No 1, we've got great chemistry. Chemistry will carry you through a season. It will carry you through a tournament."

Huesman said he has a "very mature group" of players, both in the number of innings they have logged on the field and the way they conduct themselves in practice and off the field. All but two starters are back, and the Celtics will get a boost from senior Jared King, who batted last season but could not pitch for most of the year because of an arm injury. King said his arm is feeling 100 percent so far this preseason.

Last year, the Celtics finished 14-13 overall and tied Westerville South, Mount Vernon and Olentangy for third in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 4-6 behind Worthington Kilbourne (7-3) and Pickerington Central (7-3).

Huesman and the Celtics are making their aspirations clear.

"Our goal here, quite simply, is we want to win 20 games, we want to win the league and we also want to repeat as district champions from two years ago," Huesman said.

In 2007, Jerome went 23-6 and reached a regional final.

The Celtics will be led by their pitching staff, which consists primarily of seniors King, Neil Johnson and Matt Boothe and junior Nick Sobel. Johnson led the team with a 6-2 record and a 1.35 ERA last year. Boothe was 4-3 with a 2.97 ERA.

Josh Lento returns as a starter at catcher. He was third on the team in batting at .318.

In the infield, the expected starters are junior Alex Schillig (3B), Brett Mosher (2B) and Tyler Williams (SS), a transfer from Coffman. At first, Johnson, Boothe and junior Drew Whitson are expected to see action. Schillig was fourth with a .313 average.

King returns to start in center field and he will be joined by seniors Mike Adolph (RF) and Jason Pollo (LF). King led the team with a .438 average and had 12 stolen bases. Adolph was second in hitting at .392, and Pollo tied for the team lead with two home runs.

Also on the roster are seniors Nick Inutsuka (OF/P), Alex Ring (OF), Matt Curran (utility), Brett Freiberg (utility) and Premal Bhatt (INF), juniors Nick Streck (utility), Ethan Eraybar (OF), Ryan Longbrake (INF/P) and Tanner Cabbage (1B), sophomores Zach Martin (INF), Garrett Couche (utility/P), Trevor Burch (P) and Michael Parente (C) and freshmen Aaron Huesman (1B/P) and Chase Compton (utility/P).

"We lost a lot of seniors that year (2007), so last year was kind of a building year," King said. "All the position players all have a year of varsity experience, so everyone knows what they're doing. We've had a lot of guys mature over the winter with their pitching and taking the offseason workouts seriously."

Jerome's Josh Lento returns as starting catcher after the Celtics finished 14-13. He hit .318 a year ago, which was third-best on the team.

At a glance

•Coach: Chris Huesman, fifth season

•Opener: Tuesday vs. Bexley

•Key players: Mike Adolph, Matt Boothe, Neil Johnson, Jared King, Josh Lento and Alex Schillig