Dublin Coffman High School baseball coach Tim Saunders has set a high standard for his program.
That's why he believes the Shamrocks will rebound from an 11-15 finish a year ago.
"I think we're ready to get back on track," said Saunders, who is in his 26th season. "We lost eight one-run ballgames last year and that was the difference from being focused and not focused. We just couldn't finish games."
The Shamrocks lost to Upper Arlington 10-5 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after defeating Central Crossing 8-1 in the first round.
They went 23-6 in 2011.
Coffman, which opened April 3 against Olentangy, lost seven starters from a year ago to graduation. Saunders, however, believes he returns a solid group led by senior catcher Jacob Gilbert, who batted .338 last year.
Senior shortstop Brett Griffey hit .283 with 10 RBI.
Senior Jason Hall, who has signed to play at Xavier University, should lead the pitching staff.
"Our senior class has been together all these years and we really care about baseball," Hall said. "This is our year to step up."
The pitching staff also will feature seniors Andrew Dugal (1B), Dan Johnson and Collin McMillan (1B/OF) and juniors Doug Isaly (3B) and Preston So.
Other key players should be seniors Jordan Blake (1B), Zac Fouche (CF), Connor Grootenhuis (2B), Dan Marriott (3B) and Dominic Tiberi (LF) and junior Tyler Jester (RF).
Other players are seniors Brandon Barger (C/2B) and Brian Heffelfinger (OF) and juniors Sam Buford (OF), Mitchell Church (P), Joel Kappeler (OF/C), Carter Leffler (2B), Chris Machulski (1B/DH), Dalton Maynard (OF), Andy McCullough (P/1B), Robbie Numbers (C/OF) and Aaron Pape (OF).
Last season, the Shamrocks went 7-7 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Hilliard Davidson for fifth behind Thomas Worthington (11-3), Hilliard Darby (10-4), Upper Arlington (8-6) and Worthington Kilbourne (8-6) and ahead of Central Crossing (2-11) and Westland (2-11).
Marysville and Olentangy Liberty have replaced Darby and Kilbourne in the league.
Coffman plays host to Davidson in its league opener Monday, April 8.
"We want to be playing ... for the league title the last four games," Saunders said.
Carpenter takes over at Scioto
Scioto has a new coach in Ken Carpenter. He replaced Patrick Elias, who resigned last summer.
Carpenter coached at Buckeye Valley the past 15 years and entered this season with 261 career wins. He was the Division II district Coach of the Year in 2003 and was the junior varsity coach at Coffman in 1997.
"I'm thrilled to get a chance to coach in Dublin and be a part of a great community and be around some players that are just a blast," Carpenter said.
He took over a team that finished 10-14 last season after losing to Olentangy 9-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Scioto opened March 30 by splitting a doubleheader with UA at home. After losing 3-2 in 10 innings, the Irish won 4-0.
"It was great to get that first win," Carpenter said.
"We felt like we played good enough to walk away with two wins."
Carpenter expects senior Aaron Strausbaugh (P/SS) and juniors Max O'Connell (P/1B) and Matthew Messick (P/SS/2B) to lead the pitching staff.
Strausbaugh won the second game against UA, allowing four hits, striking out five and walking none in a complete-game effort.
Last season, Strausbaugh batted .333 with 11 RBI and 19 runs and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Others with starting experience are seniors Riley Bush (1B/P/OF) and Matthew Vogel (LF) and sophomore Nick Conner (OF/P). Last season, Conner hit .278 with 12 RBI and 10 runs and was second-team all-league.
Other players are seniors Carl Kubalak (C/3B), Jacob Nave (2B), Adam Padovan (C), Brayden Pfeiffer (P), Nathan Reiser (OF) and Austin Troyer (P), juniors Brad Dinan (3B) and Spencer Talentino (OF) and freshman Ryan Keel (C/utility).
The Irish lost eight starters from a year ago to graduation, including Austin Mooney (C/P/1B) and Kris Simonton (utility).
Mooney batted .449 with 27 RBI and was first-team all-league and all-district.
Simonton hit .414 with 14 RBI and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Scioto went 6-7 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish seventh behind Olentangy (10-4), Jerome (9-5), Marysville (8-5), Westerville North (8-6), Liberty (7-7) and Westerville Central (7-7) and ahead of Westerville South (0-14).
The league now consists of Scioto, Jerome Darby, Hilliard Bradley, Kilbourne, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.
Scioto's league opener is Monday, April 8, at Westerville Central.
"We're going to be competitive and we're going to go out and play hard every game and that's all you can ask of them," Carpenter said. "We just have some things that we have to figure out and make some adjustments."
Jerome seeking OCC-Cardinal title
After finishing second in the OCC-Cardinal last season, Jerome has set its sights on winning the league title.
"I believe we're one of the top teams out there, along with Hilliard Darby," ninth-year coach Chris Huesman said. "In such a tough league we have to be ready to play every day."
Jerome opened against Olentangy on April 2. Its league opener is Monday, April 8, against visiting Bradley.
Returning players include seniors Masashi Sakamoto (OF/P), Tom Coon (3B/P) and Kyle Lento (C).
Sakamoto batted .362 with two home runs, 17 RBI and 15 runs and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season. He also went 5-4 with a 1.34 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.
Coon batted .263 with two home runs, 19 RBI and 12 runs and was second-team all-league.
Lento hit .306 with nine RBI and 16 runs and was second-team all-league.
Also back are senior Colin Seely (2B), who batted .333 with nine RBI and nine runs and was special mention all-league, and senior Cam Willms (CF), who hit .284 with eight RBI and 14 runs and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior Jason Johnson (1B/P) batted .300 and went 4-4 with 38 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Other returnees are senior Steve Romanelli (OF) and juniors Tyler Bookmyer (INF/OF/P) and Jake King (OF).
Other players are seniors Dan Callahan (OF/P), Korey Gerber (OF/C), John Krutzler (2B/P), John Laufersweiler (OF) and Will Zimmerman (OF) and juniors Jason Corvese (INF), Blaize Gorman (INF), Adam Klusacek (OF), Thomas Ludwig (INF), Tom Mazurek (INF), Thomas Menker (P/INF), Collin Mitchell (INF), Patryk Moeller (INF), Nick Thomas (INF/P) and Joe Vinci (OF).
"This is definitely the most experienced staff I've ever had and the most matured group I've ever had," Huesman said. "We have 12 seniors and 12 juniors and they all can play."
A key loss to graduation was Aaron Huesman, who batted .490 last season and was named the OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year and first-team all-district. The coach's son, he is playing at the University of Dayton.
After a first-round bye in last year's Division I district tournament and defeating Liberty 6-5 in the second round, the Celtics lost to third-seeded Gahanna 5-1 in a district semifinal.