The Licking County Athletics baseball program is undergoing a transformation under first-year coach Adam Arcuri.

The Licking County Athletics baseball program is undergoing a transformation under first-year coach Adam Arcuri.

Two additional age groups have been added to increase the number of teams to four. An ambitious tournament schedule has been lined up, too, and the website (lcathleticsbaseball.com) has been enhanced.

"It's the new blood," said former coach Rick Houston, who is taking his second summer off in 31 years.

Arcuri, who is Houston's son-in-law, said changes are necessary now that Newark no longer is playing host to the Babe Ruth 16-18 years old World Series. Subsequently, the A's are losing players to other summer programs. This year's team will feature nobody from Division IV district-champion Newark Catholic, for example.

The new teams are the 13-and-under Athletics, who will be coached by Bob Jurden, and the U15 A's coached by Glen Alexander. Ron Wintermute will continue to coach the U16 team. The U18 Athletics are scheduled to play Pickerington Post283A in their season and home opener on Wednesday, June 1 at Don Edwards Park.

"I came from a travel-ball background, and I've quickly realized that you have to get to the kids at an early age if you want to keep them," said Arcuri, 27, an Olmsted Falls High School graduate and former Thomas Worthington assistant. "We don't want them to have any reason to go someplace else to play baseball."

"And we'd like to keep expanding if possible. We're looking to add maybe two more age groups next year."

Another significant change is that individuals who already have played one college season no longer are eligible to play for the Athletics, whose 15-man roster includes players representing seven area high schools.

The team's three college-bound seniors are Heath's Ethan Fleming (Thomas More) and Nate Hunt (Muskingum) and Licking Heights' Josh Hoar (Tiffin). The other graduating seniors are Heath's Cole Benner and Newark's Tyler King.

"We want to do more traveling to age-specific tournaments, and in some of those the college kids would be too old," Arcuri said. "We're definitely going to be younger (with nine juniors and one sophomore) and we want to give those kids (college-recruiting) exposure."

Arcuri has put six tournaments on the slate, the first of which is the Cobras Classic on June 10-12 in Pickerington. The others include the Phoenix Wooden-Bat Tournament on July 23-26 in Worthington and the Mid-Atlantic Championships on July 28-31 in Pittsburgh. The A's also will participate in the Diamond Stars Classic on June 16-19 in Kent, the Lancaster American Legion Post 11 Classic on June 30-July 4 and the Post 275 Classic on July 7-10 in Adrian, Mich.

Arcuri, who assisted Houston the past two years, has retained assistant coaches Mike Saalfield and Roy Wisner.

•ANOTHER CHANGE - The Licking County Settlers, who open play in the wooden-bat Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League on June 10 at the Xenia Scouts, have named Devin McIntosh as their new coach. He replaces Brian Meyer, who led the Settlers to a program-best 29-11 record and the league's regular-season title last summer.

McIntosh, an Arlington, Texas, native who also is in his first season at Richland College in Dallas, is a former pitching coach at both Buffalo and Niagara University.

In other changes, the GLSCL has split into two five-team divisions for this season. The Settlers will play in the North Division with the Grand Lake Mariners, Lake Erie Monarchs, Lima Locos and Stark County Terriers. The South Division will feature the Cincinnati Steam, Xenia, Southern Ohio Copperheads, Lexington Hustlers and the Hamilton Joes, who defeated Licking County in last year's championship playoff series.

Below is the Licking County Athletics roster:

HEATH - Cole Benner, Chase Geller, Ethan Fleming, Nate Hunt and Derek Yahn; JOHNSTOWN - Taylor Baughman and Hunter Cecil; NEWARK - Tyler King; LAKEWOOD - Hunter Gray and Kyle Vaubel; LICKING HEIGHTS - Josh Hoar; UTICA - Jeremy Jenkins, Brett Robberts and Nathan Wyscarver; WATKINS MEMORIAL - Steve Huber