Grove City eyeing another state berth
The Grove City High School baseball team is looking to make another postseason run later this spring.
Last season, the Greyhounds finished 27-3 overall, won the OCC-Ohio Division title and won district and regional championships to reach a Division I state semifinal, where they lost to eventual champion Cincinnati Moeller 3-2 at Huntington Park.
Grove City also advanced to a state semifinal in 2011, losing to eventual champion Liberty Township Lakota East 7-2.
The Greyhounds open Saturday, March 30, against host Smyrna (Tenn.) and Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp.
"We definitely think we can get back (to state)," fifth-year coach Ryan Alexander said. "We think we have the bats to definitely make a run at it. What it comes down to when you get into that tournament run is you want great pitching on those days and have timely hitting. The last two years we did a nice job with that."
Alexander likes the potential of his pitching staff, which is expected to be led by senior left-hander Kyle Bennett, who had a 6-0 record last season and was named honorable mention all-league. Bennett also will see time at first base.
"Kyle has been there for a while," Alexander said. "He knows the ropes. He's pitched in both runs we've had to the final four, so he has that experience."
Others expected to see time on the mound are seniors Dallas Allen (INF/P), Drew Artrip (P/1B), Austin DeVore (P/OF), Taylor Quincel (1B/P), Brian Stith (P/OF) and Donovan Wymer (INF/P) and juniors Ben Myers (OF/P) and Josh Schaffer (P/OF).
Artrip was second-team all-league and all-district last season.
Also on the team are seniors Dan Ankrum (INF), Nick Bowyer (C), Tyler Gaitten (OF), Brandon Marczika (OF/INF), Drew Nankivell (C) and Travis Wright (INF), juniors Dominic Cooper (INF), Tyler Cowles (OF), Jake Faught (INF) and Jake Norbut (1B/DH) and sophomore Peyton Bowyer (OF).
Nankivell was second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league last season, and Cowles was second-team all-district and special mention all-league.
"We have a lot of guys that have played together since we've grown up," Nankivell said. "Our team has all come together. We have good team chemistry and we have a lot of good players in the seniors, juniors and sophomores, all the guys that are going to mix well. It's a good team this year."
Last season, Grove City was ranked first in the final state poll and was the top seed in the district tournament.
The Greyhounds had a first-round bye and defeated Columbus West 11-1, Worthington Kilbourne 5-3 and Hilliard Davidson 12-6 in a district final. They then beat Olentangy 11-1 in a regional semifinal and Olentangy Orange 7-4 in a regional final before falling to Moeller.
Grove City finished 11-0 in the OCC-Ohio last season, as three of its games were not completed.
Gahanna placed second (10-4) in the league, followed by Pickerington Central (9-4), Pickerington North (9-4), Reynoldsburg (5-9), Lancaster (4-8), Newark (4-9) and Groveport (0-14).
"Win the OCC-Ohio is a goal of ours and (win) a district championship," said Alexander, who was league Coach of the Year last season. "Those are two goals that we always have and anything you do after that district run is just icing on the cake. Our guys definitely want to get back to Huntington (Park) at some point."
Comets looking to improve on last season
Central Crossing coach Scott Todd is hoping his team can improve on last season, when it finished 7-16 overall and lost to Dublin Coffman 8-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"What I like about the team is we do have a lot of athleticism," said Todd, who is in his 11th season leading the program. "I love coaching and competing and I love the game of baseball. When you see (players) become successful, it makes you feel good knowing that you're teaching kids how to play."
The Comets return seven players from a year ago in seniors Will Bohne (2B/P), D.J. Popielarz (3B/P), Shaun Seigneur (P/1B/OF) and Tony Ward (P/OF) and juniors Austin Albert (OF), Connor Coup (1B) and Marc Russell (SS/P).
Last season, Bohne was second-team all-OCC-Central and Russell and Coup were special mention and honorable mention all-league, respectively.
Also on the team are seniors Trevor Brown (3B), Kyle Farris (OF) and Beau Gorslene (P/1B), juniors Caleb Jones (C/2B/P), Christian Roberts (OF) and Michael Traversa (P/OF) and sophomores Casey McManaway (OF/P/2B), Doug Smith (3B/SS/P) and Ethan Swank (C/2B/OF).
"Our numbers are up and our depth is very good where we have competition at almost every single position, which we haven't had (in past seasons) and that is great," Todd said. "Competition is what you need to have a successful program."
Last season, Central Crossing went 2-11 in the OCC-Central to tie Westland for seventh, behind Thomas Worthington (11-3), Hilliard Darby (10-4), Kilbourne and Upper Arlington (both 8-6) and Coffman and Davidson (both 7-7). The Comets did not complete a league game against Westland because of bad weather.
As part of OCC realignment, Marysville and Olentangy Liberty joined the OCC-Central and Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal.
"It really doesn't matter what division of the OCC you are in," Todd said. "Every team is going to be good and every team is going to have the ability to win every single night they take the field, especially when you're playing three league games in a week."
Last season, the Comets batted .235 and had a 3.73 ERA.
"We have to keep (playing) solid defense like we had last year and we have to work on our hitting a little bit," Seigneur said. "It was a little frustrating last year, but we just stick together as a team and we just pulled through it. That's what we're going to do this year."