Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball coach Mike Shade isn't having trouble looking on the bright side of losing 10 seniors who helped his program reach the Division I state tournament for the first time.
Knowing that a first-team all-state player and a pitcher who started in both a district final and a regional final should return might be the biggest reasons why.
"I'm looking forward to what's coming back," said Shade, who has 362 wins in 22 seasons leading the program.
The biggest loss will be senior Alec Tuohy (P/SS), a University at Buffalo signee who became a key player as a sophomore and this spring made first-team all-league and second-team all-state and was named district Player of the Year.
The Lions expect to return a Division I recruit, however, in junior first baseman Evan White, who has verbally committed to Kent State and made first-team all-state, all-district and all-league after hitting .378 with 24 RBI and 28 runs.
Sophomore pitcher Mason Daniels settled into the No. 2 starter role behind Tuohy and got the win May 22 when sixth-seeded Gahanna beat second-seeded Olentangy Orange 15-8 in a district final at Ohio Dominican University. The district title was the Lions' fourth in six seasons.
Tuohy, who went 9-2 with a 2.37 ERA and had a team-best .454 batting average, struck out 14 during a 7-2 win over Upper Arlington in a district semifinal May 20 to break the program record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game. He also got the win in a 10-1 victory over Marysville in a regional semifinal May 30.
Daniels was the winning pitcher in an 8-1 victory over Hilliard Darby in a regional final that concluded June 1. He finished the season 5-3 with a 2.06 ERA and was named honorable mention all-district and all-league.
Also eligible to return are juniors Zach Baumann (RF), Boomer Lowe (OF/P) and Kain Lowe (C), sophomores Cole Carey (3B/C), Cole Gibson (P) and Bradley Hull (2B) and freshman Doland Martin (C).
Gibson was 4-1 with a 3.78 ERA in a team-best 14 appearances on the mound and Baumann batted leadoff and scored 22 runs.
Lowe and Martin split time at catcher in place of senior Dakota Cararo, who will play for Adrian College in Michigan but missed the entire season with an injury.
"We had 10 seniors (who played) and they were very confident and obviously experienced," Shade said. "We got great leadership from our guys even without having Dakota and (they) just battled hard every day."
Gahanna, which opened the district tournament with a 13-3 win over 41st-seeded Westland in the second round May 15, ended its season with a 7-5 loss to eventual state runner-up Cleveland St. Ignatius in a state semifinal June 8 in Huntington Park to finish 22-10 overall.
Senior Christian Chiero (SS/3B), who will play for Otterbein University, hit .414 with 28 RBI. Senior Peyton Ross (LF) had a team-high 40 RBI and seniors Shawn Martin (3B) and Alex Delp (DH) had 27 and 20 RBI, respectively.
Chiero made second-team all-league and first-team all-district and Martin was special mention all-league.
Gahanna went 8-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division to tie Lancaster for fourth, behind Pickerington North (12-2), Pickerington Central (10-4) and Grove City (9-5) and ahead of Newark (5-9), Reynoldsburg (4-10) and Groveport (0-14).
Bulk of girls track team expected back
The girls track and field team won league, district and regional titles this season, but the best may be yet to come.
Of Gahanna's 11 state competitors, eight are eligible to return, including junior Sara Richards and freshman MiAngel Daniels, both of whom competed on the 400-meter relay that placed second (47.72 seconds) in the Division I state meet held June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
"Production-wise, this was probably the best year we've had," said coach Roger Whittaker, who completed his 25th season leading the program. "It was a fun year, and it's going to be interesting next year. We're going to miss the seniors we're losing, but we have a chance to have an even better team."
The Lions won the OCC-Ohio title, scoring 177.5 points in the league meet May 16 and 18 at Thomas Worthington to finish ahead of Pickerington Central (141), Pickerington North (116.5), Reynoldsburg (78), Lancaster (46.5), Grove City (43.5), Newark (35) and Groveport (21).
Gahanna also won the 17-team district 2 meet that concluded May 25 at Hilliard Darby, scoring 141.5 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (88.5).
The Lions then scored 55 points in the regional meet May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North to tie Pickerington Central for the title, as the 400 relay of Richards, Daniels and seniors Daniella Johnson and Reyna Montgomery finished first (48.09).
At state, Gahanna scored 15 points to tie Big Walnut and Pickerington Central for 13th behind champion Solon (47) as 74 teams scored.
Also placing at state were the 800 relay of Daniels, Johnson, Richards and senior Francesca Bowsher (sixth, 1:41.46), the 1,600 relay of Bowsher, Richards, sophomore Sami Shaw and freshman Cierra Hill (sixth, 3:55.14) and Daniels in the 100 hurdles (eighth, 15.34).
Also competing at state were the 3,200 relay of sophomores Rylee Tanner and Kelsey Sandlin, Shaw and freshman Kearstin Turner (13th, 9:29.71), Johnson in the 100 (ninth, 12.5) and sophomore Sydney Stokes in the long jump (11th, 16 feet, 8 3/4 inches).
Sophomores Rachel Brown (throws) and Tara Tedrick (sprints) are others eligible to return.
Reese among key losses for boys team
The boys track and field team loses all four of its Division I state qualifiers.
Senior Riak Reese won state titles in the 100 (10.68) and 200 (21.53) and teamed with seniors K.J. Jackson, Mark Daniels and Eric Buckner to place third in the 400 relay (41.98), as the Lions scored 26 points to place seventh behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (62) as 62 teams scored.
Reese also won league, district and regional titles in the 100 and 200.
"It was a great season," said coach Ed Rarey, who completed his 61st season leading the program. "We had an outstanding group of young men that took us all the way to the state (meet). Gahanna Lincoln will be back where we have been each and every year next year and will be a contender."
Gahanna placed third (98) in the OCC-Ohio meet, behind Pickerington North (202) and Pickerington Central (99) and ahead of Lancaster (90), Groveport (67), Newark (54), Reynoldsburg (26) and Grove City (19).
The Lions then scored 106 points in the 16-team district 2 meet to place third behind co-champions Hilliard Davidson (140) and Watkins Memorial (140) and finished fourth (40) at regional behind champion Pickerington North (99) as 39 teams scored.
Reese won the 100 (10.59) and 200 (21.41) at regional and was on the 400 relay that finished first (42.23).
Also at regional, senior Luke Mokma placed fifth in the discus (154-10) and sixth in the shot put (49-4 1/2) and the 1,600 relay of Jackson, Reese, sophomore Jordan Burns and junior Chris Blakely was sixth (3:24.94).
Others eligible to return include juniors Adam Davis (hurdles) and Conner Roll (distance) and sophomores Quinton Broomfield (sprints), Matt Ridinger (distance), Theo White (sprints) and Kieffer Whiteman (distance).