It would be no surprise if the Lakewood High School baseball team makes one more memorable postseason run if not more before legendary coach Don Thorp, who enters his 38th season with a state-record 819 victories, decides to retire.

It would be no surprise if the Lakewood High School baseball team makes one more memorable postseason run if not more before legendary coach Don Thorp, who enters his 38th season with a state-record 819 victories, decides to retire.

Such a run could come sooner rather than later.

The Lancers finished 18-9 overall a year ago following a 10-4 setback against Licking Valley in a Division II district semifinal. That equaled their highest victory total since the 2005 squad gave Thorp a third state championship, and it followed consecutive losing seasons. Moreover, seven players with starting experience are among the 13 seniors who return for Lakewood, which opens Monday against two-time defending district-champion Canal Winchester.

"The first week will tell us a little more, obviously, but we think we have a chance to be pretty good," said assistant coach Jerry Thorp, Don's son. "There's more of a focus on the team (aspect). The ingredients are there. We just have to put everything together. We've got the right leaders, and by that I'm starting with dad."

Senior shortstops Bryan Large and Justin White will anchor the pitching staff. Large was 4-5 with a 3.42 ERA last spring, striking out 27 in 36 innings. He also hit .273 with 18 runs scored. White was 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA, striking out 38 in 33 innings. Classmate Kyle Stiltner threw 15 innings, and junior Mike Maynard also should be in the rotation.

Elsewhere, senior catcher Joe Bowman might be the designated hitter because of an arm injury, leaving a spot behind the plate for sophomore Hunter Gray. Bowman hit .300 with five homers, 12 RBI and 20 runs scored as the Lancers went 8-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division to place fourth behind champion Newark Catholic (11-3).

Seniors Jordan Gray (.447) will play second base, Jacob Gray (.282, 18 RBI) at third and Brock Nichols in left field. Classmate Brandon Wesney is expected to play center field, and senior Travis Lester (18 RBI) might be the new first baseman now that first-team all-district selection Kyle Weekly has graduated. Also departing were second-team all-district pick Marc Wylie and first-team all-league selection Michael Ghiloni, among others.

Also look for seniors Dillon Overman, Thomas Clark, Cory Leindecker and Brice Mapel and sophomores Kyle Vaubel, Bayden Chandler and Jac Bowman.

The Lancers, who are 819-215 under Don Thorp and also won state titles in 1992-93, face a busy opening week.

They play West Muskingum on Tuesday, Wednesday at Watkins Memorial, Friday at Johnstown and Saturday at Steubenville for a doubleheader also featuring Warsaw Riverview.

"Offensively, we should be pretty potent. We have a lot of experience back on defense, too," Jerry Thorp said. "But like dad's been saying all spring, 'We'll be as good as our pitching.'"