Led by senior shortstop Lee Solomon, the Columbus Academy baseball team entered the season looking to improve on last year's 9-14 record.
Solomon, who has committed to play at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., was first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division and all-district in Division III last season. The three-year starter will bat leadoff this season.
The Vikings opened March 31 against Hartley.
"I think we have a chance," seventh-year coach Jim Collis said. "We have a pretty good group coming back, a lot of seniors for the first time in a while. We have some good kids that are 'baseball players.' The one thing that we can do is defend well. If we can pitch and throw strikes, I think we can defend and keep us in some games."
Collis expects senior Charlie Watters (P/1B/3B) to lead the pitching staff. Also back are seniors Garrett Levine (P/1B), Turner Montgomery (2B) and Spencer York (CF) and juniors Scott Mackenzie (3B) and Mitchell York (C).
Solomon and Watters are captains, and Mackenzie will bat in the clean-up spot.
Other players are seniors Corey Bartholomew (OF) and Rahul Ramaswamy (3B), junior Brett Trimbur (RF) and sophomores Peter Bartlome (2B), Andy Bowman (1B), Grey Harmon (LF), Jake Mitchell (OF) and Matt Watters (INF/OF).
"I'm very optimistic that this could be a real solid team," Collis said.
Academy will compete in the realigned MSL-Ohio with Bexley, Grandview, London, Madison Plains, West Jefferson, Whitehall and Worthington Christian.
"It will be fun playing different teams and we'll see (how competitive it is) as the season goes," Collis said.
Granville, Heath, Lakewood, Licking Valley and Newark Catholic moved to the Licking County League.
Last season, the Vikings went 4-10 in the league to finish seventh behind champion Granville (12-2). They advanced to a district semifinal, but lost to Bloom-Carroll 8-2.
Boys lacrosse team begins third season
The boys lacrosse team began its third season April 2 against Big Walnut looking for continued growth.
The Vikings were 5-8 in their first season in 2012 and 7-7 last season, losing to Bexley 8-7 in a Division II Central Region tournament play-in game.
"We're looking for continued improvement, but we have a harder schedule than we had in the past," third-year coach J.B. Jones said. "The schedules that we had in the past consisted of a lot of club teams, first- and second-year programs. We don't have that this year."
The Vikings return several players with varsity experience, including junior midfielder Carter Kistler (25 goals, 10 assists), junior attacker Otis Klingbeil (23 goals, 11 assists) and senior attacker Grayson Wise (23 goals, 8 assists).
Junior goalkeeper Matt Schmidt had 94 saves last year despite missing nearly half the season with a broken wrist.
Also back are seniors Michael Gurwin (midfielder), Tyler Krumlauf (midfielder), Jesse Linkhorn (defender) and Conner Nelson (midfielder), juniors Max Bechtel (attacker), Reed Clark (defender), Josh Collins (defender), Daniel Jones (defender), Taylor Smallridge (midfielder), Drake Williams (attacker) and Sam Wittman (midfielder) and sophomores Jamie Barren (defender), Ryan Cullen (midfielder), Alex Lichen (defender), Sean Reagan (midfielder) and Calvin Wuorinen (midfielder).
Other players are junior Dalton Porter (defender), sophomore Alex Sung (attacker) and freshmen Will Belford (attacker), Roman Bellisari (midfielder), Anthony Sugar (defender) and Kyle Vorys (midfielder).
"The regular season is all about becoming a better team so we can be better prepared for the state tournament," Jones said.
A key loss to graduation was Hart Wise, Grayson's brother, who last season led the team with 56 goals and 27 assists and was first-team all-region and honorable mention all-state.
Boys tennis squad eyes state team title
The boys tennis squad hopes to contend for the state title in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division II team tournament.
Last season, the Vikings finished second in the state, losing to Lexington 3-2 in the final after defeating Cincinnati Summit Country Day 3-2 in a semifinal.
"We have a good team, but Cincinnati Summit Country Day will be the best in the state, and then it's Lexington and us," 11th-year coach Jeff Warstler said. "(Hunting Valley) University School in Cleveland is pretty good, too."
The Vikings opened April 1 against Thomas Worthington and faced Lexington on April 2.
Sophomore Jacob Wareti, who is expected to play first singles, teamed with 2013 graduate Abram Schottenstein to win the Division II state doubles championship last season. They beat Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy's Colin Kenney and Ben Wittkugel 6-1, 6-4 in the final.
Senior Evan Alexander was expected to begin the season at second singles. Senior Ryan Jung and sophomore Austin Lawrence were competing for the third singles spot.
Shrikar Kundur will play first doubles with Jung or Lawrence, and seniors Nikhil Patel and Dean Firouzian will play second doubles.
"The kids want to win that team tournament, Warstler said. "Coming off finishing second last year, I'm sure they'd like a chance to win it. I'd like to see a couple kids advance to state in singles or doubles."
After going undefeated in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio during the regular season last year, winning all six matches 5-0, the Vikings swept all courts in the league tournament to finish first ahead of runner-up Bexley.
Academy will compete in the MSL-Ohio this season with Bexley, Grandview, London, West Jefferson, Whitehall and Worthington Christian.