It was a warm Saturday morning for March, and the Grandview Heights High School baseball team took the cue to get its field into shape for the coming season.

It was a warm Saturday morning for March, and the Grandview Heights High School baseball team took the cue to get its field into shape for the coming season.

First-year coach Chris Herring smiled as a group of about 15 players walked across the outfield March 17, carrying a section of fence spanning more than 40 feet. Then they connected the segment to the chain-link enclosure surrounding the football field, which resulted in the beginning of a home-run fence.

"That's an example of what we're trying to do here is working together," Herring said. "Whether they are in middle school, on the j.v. or varsity team, we need to work together, become a cohesive unit and have a family atmosphere."

The Bobcats have two seniors and only one is returning from last season when the team finished 7-15 overall after losing to Worthington Christian 7-1 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament. Senior Ethan Calvert, an outfielder and pitcher, returns and classmate Oliver Rouch (OF/SS) did not play last season, but was with the program as a freshman and sophomore.

"I told (Calvert and Rouch) that there wasn't going to be a lot of pressure on them to go deep into the district (tournament), but they needed to lay the foundation for the future," said Herring, whose team opens Saturday, March 24, at home with a doubleheader against Lancaster. "We have a young team, and that includes (a combined) 11 freshmen and sophomores. That's good because we are light in the upper classes."

Two of the top returnees are junior pitcher Nick Peck (0-4, 6.46 ERA, 26 innings, 18 strikeouts, 8 walks) and sophomore catcher Josh Keller (.260 average, 13 runs, 8 RBI, 2 triples, 4 stolen bases).

Peck is one of eight juniors along with Alex Cochran (OF/3B), Nick Durham (SS/P), C.J. Flowers (SS), Max Joseph (OF), Andy McCauley (1B), Nick Perez (2B/P) and Marco Stroppa (2B/OF). Sophomores include Gage Baskind (SS), Keller and A.J. Pinyerd (1B/3B).

Jon Faris (OF/2B/P), Ethan Graham (1B), Ben Kinder (C), Joe Pinney (SS/OF), Leo Ready (OF/P), Lucas Smith (3B), Max Sterneker (utility player) and Jake Walters (3B/P) are freshmen.

"Our No. 1 priority is to have fun and even though these kids are loose, they take care of business," said Herring, whose team finished 5-9 in the MSL-Cardinal Division, behind champion Licking Heights (12-2). "Experience is the biggest thing because we have kids who are new to the program and they will have a huge learning curve. They're young kids facing varsity pitching for the first time."

Herring replaced Brian Thomas, who spent two years with the program. Herring coached baseball at Grandview Middle School for four seasons before leaving to be the j.v. coach the past two seasons at Jonathan Alder, where he was on the staff of former Bobcats baseball coach Craig Kyle.

"We will have new hitting and fielding schemes like the ones we had at Jonathan Alder, which coach Kyle used when he was here, so I guess they are coming back home in a sense," Herring said. "We're young and inexperienced, but being young also brings a chance for success down the road if they stick with the system."

•The softball team returns six seniors and two juniors from last season. Grandview finished 5-15 overall, losing to Utica 15-3 in five innings in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.

Fourth-year coach Jim Amato is trying to put together the pieces for this spring.

"We're still trying to find our strengths because we have had so many girls out because of other school commitments," said Amato, whose team finished 5-9 in the MSL-Cardinal last year, behind champion Liberty Union (14-0). "We had girls starting late (because of) basketball and others missed three weeks because of the school musical, and others missed time for the choir.

"But we definitely have increased speed with some of our freshmen and our defense is getting better. With our speed, we can rely on the short game to open things up for us."

Senior pitcher Claire Artrup returns after being the Bobcats' co-Most Valuable Player last season with 2011 graduate Jordan Abbruzzese, who played second base. Also back are senior Kyleah Burton-Smiles (SS), who was named the team's outstanding offensive player, and junior Aileen Evans (INF/OF), who was second-team all-league and named the team's most improved player.

Burton-Smiles, who has signed with Lake Erie College in Painesville, was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

The senior class also includes Kelly Berlin (OF/INF), Brenna McLaughlin (INF/OF), Olivia Reed (C/IF/OF) and Kelsey Senter (OF).

"We have six seniors, which is a good thing this year, but maybe not for down the road," Amato said. "We want to be able to profit from the experience of our seniors, but also be able to develop our young kids."

Mia Bell (OF) is the other returning junior. The sophomores are Sierra Dobbs-Brown (INF/OF), Brooke Berning (INF/OF), Morgan Ramey (P), Grace VanFossen (INF) and Natalie Webb (3B/P; honorable mention all-league).

Freshmen include Emma Bulla (OF), Mary Guida (C), Morgan Taylor (OF/1B) and Allison Voelker (OF/1B).

"One concern we have is whether we can all jell at right time," said Amato, whose team opens Tuesday, March 27, at Bexley. "We have kids who can hit, but we need to be more consistent, and we need to integrate the younger kids into the lineup."