Dublin Scioto High School baseball coach Patrick Elias is counting on his team to be better defensively this season.

Dublin Scioto High School baseball coach Patrick Elias is counting on his team to be better defensively this season.

The Irish were inconsistent on defense last season and that ultimately led to their demise in the second round of the Division I district tournament, as they made four errors and gave up eight unearned runs in a 9-0 loss to third-seeded New Albany.

Scioto, which finished 13-15 overall last season, opens Tuesday, March 27, at home against Briggs and begins OCC-Cardinal Division play April 2 at home against Olentangy.

"Last year, we made our share of defensive mistakes and it really cost us in several games, including the tournament," said Elias, who is in his second season with the Irish. "So this year we've been working on our fundamentals and glove-work, and I don't think we have any glaring weaknesses. We're working on making defense one of our strengths because you can't rely on offense to win games, because there are going to be some days when you just don't have it at the plate."

Seven players who started multiple games last season have returned in seniors Andrew Barnhardt (1B/P), Stephen Carter (OF/P), Tyler Flaherty (3B), Austin Mooney (C/P), Philip Parrott (P) and Kris Simonton (SS/P) and junior Aaron Strausbaugh (SS/2B/CF/P).

Mooney, Simonton and Parrott are expected to be Scioto's top three starting pitchers.

Simonton, a University of Akron recruit, batted a team-high .493 last year and was named first-team all-district and all-league.

Mooney, also an Akron recruit, batted .436 with a team-high 28 RBI and was first-team all-league. On the mound, he was 4-1 with a 5.17 ERA.

Flaherty batted .434 and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Filling out the roster are seniors Nathan Callender (OF/1B/P), Nicholas Smith (OF/2B) and Noah Wehner (P/OF/2B), juniors Adam Padovan (C) and Matthew Vogel (OF/P), sophomore Matthew Messick (SS/2B/P) and freshman Nicholas Conner (OF/P).

"Our seniors have been very successful all the way back to their freshman year and overall we're a tight-knit group," Elias said. "Our middle infield is good and our pitching should be good, too."

Last season, Scioto went 7-7 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish fourth, behind Olentangy (12-2), Westerville Central (10-4) and Marysville (7-6) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (6-8), Westerville North (5-8), Olentangy Liberty (5-9) and Westerville South (3-11). A game between Marysville and North was not played.

The Irish opened the district tournament with a 12-2 victory over Lancaster before losing to New Albany.

"Our goals are always to win 20 games and win the OCC and district championships, but this year we're shifting the focus from numbers to reaching our potential," Elias said. "Everyone in our conference is going to be better this year because they were young last year, so it's going to be tough to win."

Returnees have Jerome 'cautiously optimistic'

Jerome finished 14-15 overall and fifth in the OCC-Cardinal last season.

The Celtics begin league play April 2 at home against Westerville North.

Jerome is led by senior captains Aaron Huesman (1B/OF/P), Parker Mesaros (2B/P) and Matt Woytek (P/1B).

Huesman, a Dayton recruit, hit .324 with 18 RBI last season and was second-team-league and all-district. Junior Jason Johnson (1B/DH/P) is expected to be the Celtics' top pitcher.

Rounding out the team are juniors Danny Callahan (OF/P), Tom Coon (3B/1B/P), Korey Gerber (C/OF), Jeff Johnston (OF), John Laufersweiler (OF), Kyle Lento (C/P), Cody Marshall (INF/P), Steve Romanelli (RF), Masashi Sakamoto (CF/3B/P), Colin Seely (2B), William Thomas (SS), Cam Willms (LF/P) and Will Zimmerman (RF/P) and sophomores Matt Beebe (P/1B) and Tyler Bookmyer (P/INF).

Coon hit .333 last season.

"This is the deepest team we've ever had as far as talent and pitching goes," eight-year coach Chris Huesman said. "Matt Beebe, Jason Johnson, Aaron, Tom Coon, Masashi Sakamoto and Kyle Lento all throw over 80 mph and some of them are throwing over 85 mph."

Jerome won two Division I district tournament games last year, beating Briggs 10-0 in five innings and Hilliard Davidson 2-0 before losing to Dublin Coffman 7-4 in a district semifinal.

"I'm cautiously optimistic because we've got a great core group back and they played the best competition during the summer and in the fall, so they're highly prepared for this season," coach Huesman said. "We're going to play one of the toughest schedules in the state to get prepared for the tournament, because we feel like we have the potential to make a good run."

Coffman to embark on rebuilding process

Coffman lost all but three starters from last season, when it finished 23-6 overall after losing to Gahanna 5-1 in a Division I district final.

The Shamrocks open Saturday, March 24, at home against Tallmadge in a doubleheader and begin OCC-Central play April 2 at Central Crossing.

The returning starters are seniors Zak Hood (P/SS) and Clayton Vranic (CF) and junior James Walsh (P). Hood was second-team all-league last year, while Vranic batted .423 with 22 RBI and Walsh went 7-1 with a 3.31 ERA with 47 strikeouts and was first-team all-league.

Junior Jason Hall is expected to be Coffman's No. 3 pitcher behind Walsh and Hood. Expected to start are senior Ryan Davis (1B), Tyler Low (RF), Leo Smith (LF) and Spencer Willette (2B).

Senior Austin Knisely and junior Jacob Gilbert are vying to start at catcher. Gilbert, Hood and juniors Brett Griffey and Connor Grootenhuis are competing to start at shortstop and senior Carter Fiorita, junior Dan Marriott, Griffey and Grootenhuis are vying to start at third base.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Jake Cline (OF) and Ethan White (P) and juniors David Abood (C/OF), Tommy Adams (OF), Brandon Barger (C/2B), Jordan Blake (P), Andrew Dugal (P/1B), Zac Fouche (OF), Brian Heffelfinger (OF), Dan Johnson (P), Collin McMillan (1B/OF), Aaron Sikora (OF) and Dominic Tiberi (OF).

"Our pitching staff looks good and that's a good place to build around," 25th-year coach Tim Saunders said.

"Walsh and Hood are both ace pitchers and Jason is good, too. Those guys should keep us in games. And if everyone else plays to their potential, we should be a good team."

Last season, the Shamrocks won the OCC-Central championship, going 13-1 in league play to finish ahead of Davidson (10-4), Worthington Kilbourne (10-4), Hilliard Darby (7-7), Thomas Worthington (7-7), Upper Arlington (6-8), Central Crossing (2-12) and Westland (1-13).

Coffman opened the district tournament with a 13-0, five-inning win over Westland in the second round and beat Jerome 7-4 in a district semifinal before losing to Gahanna.

"I think we're capable of winning our league again with the pitching we have, but you always have to worry about Davidson and Darby having good teams and Upper Arlington and Central Crossing should be better, too."