The Dublin Jerome High School softball team is looking to build on the most successful season in program history.
The Celtics finished 12-12 overall a year ago, the first time they did not have a losing record. They set the program record for wins, beating the 2008 finish of 11-16 after going 7-58 from 2009 through 2011.
After defeating Briggs 18-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament, the Celtics lost to second-seeded Olentangy Orange 5-0 in the second round.
Jerome opened April 2 against Licking Heights.
"The goal is always to win, but you always emphasize having fun and playing hard," second-year coach Jim Muessig said. "The more competitive you are the more fun you have. I always want to keep improving each year and I'd like to finish in the top part of the league, and of course have a winning record."
Back is junior pitcher Abby Haab, who had a 2.39 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 120 innings last year. She also batted .387 with 15 RBI.
"Abby is a strong pitcher," Muessig said. "We need to give her a little bit of support offensively behind her and that will help her out, too."
Also back are senior Caitlin Clancy (CF), who batted .391, and junior Katie Kendall (C), who batted .346 with two home runs and 20 RBI.
Other returnees are seniors Madison Colvin (2B/1B), Erin Hammett (3B) and Stephanie Hirth (C) and junior Kylie Huesman (SS/3B).
Senior Kaitlin Beebe (LF) has returned after sitting out last season while recovering from a concussion.
Other players are juniors Brittany Berberick (utility), Lauren Daugherty (OF/3B), Emma Frazier (2B) and Katie Zimlich (OF), sophomores Leslie Boothe (1B/3B) and McKenzie Ciminillo (P/OF) and freshmen Sadie Gearhart (SS), Madison Miller (1B/3B) and Lauren Watts (P/2B).
"It's going to be an interesting year," Muessig said. "I have a lot of question marks. We have five starting positions open, so there's a lot of competition this year. It's a good freshman class."
Last season in the OCC-Cardinal Division, Jerome went 5-8 to finish sixth behind Olentangy Liberty (12-2), Westerville North (10-3), Marysville (9-5), Westerville South (8-6) and Westerville Central (6-7) and ahead of Olentangy (3-10) and Scioto (1-13).
The league now consists of Jerome, Scioto, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Westerville Central, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.
Jerome's league opener is Monday, April 8, at home against Bradley.
Scioto looking to bounce back
After winning three of its first seven games last season, Scioto struggled to a 6-18 finish.
The Irish lost to Groveport 7-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Second-year coach Larry Howell is hoping for improvement.
"We're still young and green," he said. "We'll be improved, but in the league we play in it's going to be tough. We have Westerville South, Westerville North, Westerville Central (and) this year Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby (and) Worthington Kilbourne, who probably should be the favorite."
Scioto opened April 1 against Hamilton Township. Its league opener is Monday, April 8, at Central.
Senior Mackenzie Nelsen again is expected to be the top pitcher and also will play shortstop.
Other key returnees are seniors Marissa Gibson (3B/OF) and Taylor Martin (SS/P) and junior Kelsey Esterline (OF/SS).
Other players are juniors Kaitlyn Cameron (OF), Andi Smith (1B/OF), Abby Willman (2B) and Abby Wittenauer (OF), sophomores Erica Herrigan (OF/P), Bailey Loew (OF), Logan McKeever (C/3B) and Kathleen O'Brien (1B) and freshmen Jade Bortz (C) and Kelsie Heasley (P/SS).
"We have a good group of girls," Howell said. "They work hard. It's just trying to catch up with what we're lacking as far as knowledge of the game and skill set."
Coffman hoping to continue improvement
Coffman won four of its final eight games last season to finish 8-17 overall.
The Shamrocks lost to Westerville North 1-0 in their Division I district tournament opener.
"I think we're better than last year," said second-year coach Leah Howard, whose team opened April 2 against Newark. "We were young last year in terms of certain areas of our team. We now have a little bit more experience and that's going to help us."
Coffman returns nine players, including senior shortstop Megan Sutula.
"I'm expecting more than last year," she said. "We work really hard. When we go to practice we bring everything we have. We have a better connection, so that should transfer to the field."
Junior Hannah Sabatino (C/OF) was first-team all-OCC-Central and second-team all-district last year.
Also back are seniors Kelsey Hansen (2B), Tiffany Kula (OF), Megan Mills (2B) and Meredith Mockler (OF), junior Haley Marshall (P) and sophomores Jordan Mathias (P) and Megan Stevens (P).
Howard said Mathias is recovering from a fractured vertebra in her back and when she returns should again be the team's top pitcher.
Other players are senior Madison So (3B), juniors Maddie Darby (OF/1B), Kylie George (OF) and Megan Gerberick (1B), sophomores Samantha Skuce (OF), Elizabeth Colchin (2B), Brooke Durthaler (C/3B), Megan Paolini (3B) and Amelia Sagun (1B) and freshmen Lauren Blair (SS/2B), Caroline Carney (2B), Jessica Flynn (P), Elizabeth Fraas (C), Sam Isaly (C), Jennifer Pietrusik (3B) and Jamie Rhodes (P).
Last season, Coffman finished fifth (4-9) in the OCC-Central behind Central Crossing (13-0), Thomas Worthington (11-2), Kilbourne (9-4) and Hilliard Davidson (6-8) and ahead of Upper Arlington (4-10), Darby (4-10) and Westland (2-10).
Liberty and Marysville have replaced Darby and Kilbourne.
"I think we have a shot at being competitive in our league and want to win the title," Howard said. "Obviously, our goal would be to win the league. If we stay healthy we really do have a shot at it.
Coffman's league opener is Monday, April 8, at home against Davidson.