Newark Catholic High School baseball coach John Cannizzaro is in a unique situation.

Newark Catholic High School baseball coach John Cannizzaro is in a unique situation.

Basketball ended nine days ago when the Green Wave lost in a Division IV regional final. It was the first time since 1976 the basketball team advanced to a regional and first time since 1957 they played in both games.

"It's a different thing to handle," Cannizzaro said of the late start in baseball for seven of the basketball players. The opener Monday at Bloom-Carroll will be played as scheduled. "You know, the basketball season started a week later than usual this year, too, and the seniors were on a class trip to Washington, D.C., last week."

Hence, the Green Wave remains a work in progress after also reaching a regional final last season and finishing 22-7 overall after a 5-2 loss to Berlin Hiland, which lost to Hamler Patrick Henry in the state final. Newark Catholic went 10-4 to share second place with Licking Valley in the MSL-Ohio Division behind Heath (11-3), and several key players return.

They include pitchers Garrett Clark and Miles Richardson, who are among eight seniors. Clark was 6-2 a year ago and Richardson was 4-3. The other seniors include shortstop Matt Lewis, outfielder Chris Leibold and Andy Vernau, a third baseman who might end up playing second after he batted .439 a year ago.

The Green Wave, which defeated Worthington Christian 5-1 to win a third consecutive district championship and sixth in seven years, graduated quite a bit offensively and up the middle defensively.

Matt Lott, a catcher who was named ThisWeek's Player of the Year and also won the same honor at the district and state level, is playing baseball and football at Lake Erie College in Painesville. Mark Elwell, a center fielder who also made first-team all-state, is playing baseball at Xavier.

Cannizzaro said last week he's still trying to figure out the batting order. Senior Cody Potts, juniors Kevin Cox and Nate Adams and sophomore Michael Lewis also are expected to pitch. Richardson might be the new center fielder, and junior Xavier Cook returns as the new catcher.

Other top players are seniors Grant Marcelain and Sam Corl, juniors Jake Nelson and Derek Adam and sophomores Nate Taylor and Sean Hughes.

"I think we'll have a lot versatility at the plate. We'll easily go beyond the nine starters," said Cannizzaro, whose career record is 299-101 entering his 14th season. "We have decent team speed but probably aren't quite as fast without (leadoff hitter) Elwell. We have a lot of different type hitters, though, and should do real well in situational hitting."