The Grove City Christian School baseball team is hoping to contend for the MOCAL title in its final season in the league.
Beginning in the fall, Grove City Christian will compete in the MSL-Cardinal Division with Berne Union, Fairfield Christian, Fisher Catholic, Harvest Prep and Millersport.
"We'd like to finish at the top one more year," said coach Steve Bowshier, who is in his eighth season. "We've talked about that."
Last season, the Eagles finished 14-13 overall after losing to top-seeded Newark Catholic 7-0 in a Division IV district semifinal. They went 6-4 in the MOCAL to finish second behind Tree of Life (9-1).
Grove City Christian opened March 30 by losing to Shekinah Christian 12-2 and 7-4. The Eagles played their MOCAL opener April 2 against Fairfield Christian.
The Eagles return four starters in seniors Mack Brunney (2B/OF) and Ronnie Gallion (C/P) and juniors Tanner Buhrts (SS/3B/P) and Matt Fritz (C/3B/P).
Last season, Buhrts led the team in hitting at .427 and set a team record for RBI with 43. He was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Gallion hit .373 and was honorable mention all-league.
Brunney also will compete in sprinting events for the boys track and field team.
"Ronnie will be a good leader and Mack and Tanner will be solid players," Bowshier said. "We have a good core."
Also back are sophomores Alex Grove (OF/P) and Logan Kohl (1B/P).
Other players are junior Jake Riley (OF) and freshmen Bill Carsen (OF), Kurtis McKeon (SS/P), Tavian Sim (OF/2B) and Austin Smith (2B/OF).
"Tree of Life is probably going to be the strongest team in the league," Bowshier said. "We have to gain some varsity experience quickly with some of these younger kids."
Last season in the district tournament, Grove City Christian defeated Granville Christian 17-0 in five innings in the first round and Madison Christian 14-0 in the second round.
Softball squad looking to improve
The softball team is hoping to improve on last season's 8-13 record.
"I think we're more talented than we were last year," said second-year coach Troy Tomlinson, whose team opened April 1 with a 12-7 loss to Franklin Heights and played its MOCAL opener April 2 against Fairfield Christian.
Junior Michelina Frank, who has moved from first base to catcher, led the team in batting average last season at .417 and was first-team all-league.
Senior Katelyn Justice was the team's top pitcher a year ago, going 6-10 with a 4.87 ERA. She had 72 strikeouts and 50 walks in 105 innings and was second-team all-league.
Sophomore Grace Tomlinson (P/1B/3B), the coach's daughter, missed last season with a right knee injury. Coach Tomlinson expects her to emerge as the team's top pitcher.
"It's going to be huge," he said of his daughter's return.
Sophomore Stephanie Fisher (OF/P) hit .393 last year and led the team in runs (20), RBI (18) and triples (3). She was second-team all-league.
Also back are senior Cassi Hoyt (CF), junior Valerie McNeal (OF) and sophomores Ashley Byers (C/2B), Georgia Byers (3B) and Stephanie Sliemers (OF).
Other players are freshmen Olivia Frank (SS), Olivia Nester (C/OF) and Ashley Hatfield (OF).
"An obvious goal is to win the MOCAL," coach Tomlinson said. "I don't want to be too brash, but I would be disappointed if we didn't win the MOCAL this year."
The Eagles went 4-6 in the MOCAL last year to finish fifth behind Delaware Christian (11-1), Madison Christian (10-2), Gahanna Christian (6-5) and Tree of Life (6-6) and ahead of Fairfield Christian (3-9) and Granville Christian (0-11).
After defeating Wellington 7-6 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament, the Eagles lost to second-seeded Danville 12-4 in the second round.
Track teams look to gain experience
There are only two seniors in the track and field program, which opens Saturday, April 6, in the Red Raider Relays at London.
"It's about building for the next couple of years because we're a really young team," third-year coach Brad Seaburn said. "We're just trying to build momentum and trying to get more people for next year ... to start in the new conference."
Last season, the boys team tied Tree of Life and Greenwich South Central for 42nd (1 point) in the Division III regional meet behind champion Columbus Academy (113) as 44 teams scored.
The Eagles finished ninth (18) in the district 1 meet behind champion Academy (177) as 13 teams scored.
Sophomores Josh Jones (middle distance) and Alec Poling (middle distance) ran on the 3,200-meter relay that finished sixth (9 minutes, 19 seconds) at district.
Other athletes include seniors Brunney and Seth Rouch (sprints), juniors Cameron Buhrts (discus/shot put) and Aaron Schuler (discus/shot put), sophomores Josh Dick (distance), John Hand (middle distance), Noah Miller (discus/shot put), Jake Owens (discus/shot put), Rhyen Reier (sprints) and Eddy Yount (distance) and freshmen Brett Crabtree (distance), Tony Grandison (sprints) and Paul Rouch.
Sophomore Jenny Jones (distance) is expected to lead the girls team, which did not compete at district last year.
Other athletes are sophomores Katie Flowers (distance), Makayla Gibbins (sprints), Abby Hill (discus/shot put) and Kasey Hogan (sprints) and freshmen Emma Baker (middle distance), Makayla Harr (discus/shot put) and Hope Meier (discus/shot put).
"Our numbers are lower this year," Seaburn said. "I'd say I'm hurting more in the sprinter area. I have a lot more distance runners this year."