Watkins Memorial High School baseball coach Donnie Schone likes his team's depth despite having lost 10 players from a year ago to graduation.
Last season, the Warriors finished 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the OCC-Capital Division and lost to fifth-seeded Thomas Worthington 2-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after defeating Groveport 7-2 in the first round.
Watkins Memorial opened March 30 against Olmsted Falls and its next game is Wednesday, April 3, at Ready.
"I think we have good depth at pitching and at most of our positions," said Schone, who is in his 10th year. "In fact, we've got more depth at pitching than we may have ever had. Usually, I'm blessed with one or two outstanding pitchers and this season we've got at least four."
The pitching staff includes seniors Dan Sexton, Charlie Schmidt and Tony Winters and sophomore Chandler Day.
Winters, a left-hander who has committed to Ohio University, is expected to be the team's top pitcher. Last season, he had a 6-3 record with a 1.91 ERA and had strikeout totals of 17, 14 and 10. He also had a .330 batting average and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Sexton, who also is left-handed, has committed to Tiffin University.
"Winters is a little more of a power pitcher than Sexton and he's calm and collected on the mound," Schone said. "Sexton also has high pace, but of his three legitimate pitches, none is ever straight. He's one of those high-wire guys, too, a total opposite of Winters.
"Schmidt is a bulldog who wants the ball and loves to compete. He's going to be a special player for us. Day is tall and lanky and has reached 88 (mph) on the (radar) gun. He also has a nice slider and is confident throwing his changeup."
Other returnees are seniors Jordan Miller (2B), Derek Helbing (C) and Corey Derugen (utility player) and junior Steve Asbury (3B). Last season, Asbury batted .330 and was special mention all-league and Miller, who has committed to Muskingum University, hit .297 and was honorable mention all-league.
"I am so excited for this season because in addition to pitching depth, we have more competition for positions than we've ever had," Schone said. "Our returnees give us strength up the middle, with Helbing at catcher, Schmidt at shortstop, Miller at second and Winters in center, depending on who is pitching.
"Then we've got Asbury returning at third base and Derugen either in the outfield or shortstop, depending on who is pitching. We've got great flexibility and depth."
Others vying for playing time include juniors Seth Casto (1B/3B), Ben Shroyer (INF) and Justin Treinish (C/OF).
"On offense, many of those same guys should lead us," Schone said. "Winters swings it well, Miller puts the ball in play, Asbury's a strong hitter and Helbing and Schmidt are much improved. If we can get a few others to fill in around them and play their role, I expect us to have a great season and compete for a league championship."
Last season, Watkins Memorial placed fourth in the OCC-Capital, behind Big Walnut (12-2), Olentangy Orange (11-3) and New Albany (10-4) and ahead Delaware (6-8), Mount Vernon (5-9), Hilliard Bradley (3-10) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
As part of OCC realignment last summer, Bradley moved to the OCC-Cardinal and was replaced by Olentangy.
The Warriors begin league play April 8 at home against Delaware.
Softball team looks to improve markedly
The softball team is hoping to show marked improvement over last season, when it finished 1-23 overall and 0-14 in the OCC-Capital.
Watkins Memorial, which opens Monday, April 1, at home against Utica, lost to Delaware 12-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last year and finished eighth in the OCC-Capital.
"We definitely want to be more competitive in all of our games, especially in our last season in the OCC," fourth-year coach Tammy Ulrich said. "We have a lot more speed this year than we've had in the past and we are hoping that will have an impact."
Sophomore Devon Atchison (2B) is expected to be among the top players after batting a team-high .360 and making second-team all-league.
Also back are juniors Shanna Cashdollar (P), Kaitlyn Snider (C) and Renee Theibert (3B/OF). Cashdollar, a right-hander, is expected to share the pitching duties with freshman lefty Brooke Schindler.
Snider was honorable mention all-league a year ago.
The only senior for the Warriors is Olivia Casto (1B/designated player).
Freshmen Nicole Deavers and Lexi Dennison are competing for the starting job at shortstop, but Dennison also could play first base. Others vying for playing time include junior Alli Dzwiera (OF/C), sophomore Anna Shroyer (1B/3B) and freshmen Sarah Beach (OF/C), Jayden Johnson (3B/OF) and Kim Romshe (OF).
Delaware (12-2) and Orange (12-2) shared the OCC-Capital title last season. Mount Vernon (9-5) was third, followed by Big Walnut (7-7), Bradley (7-7), New Albany (7-7) and Franklin Heights (2-12).
The Warriors begin league play April 9 at Delaware.
Boys tennis team has high hopes
Seniors Dylan Clear, Max Nader and Austin Williams return for the boys tennis team, which won nine of its final 11 matches last season to finish 10-7 overall.
Watkins Memorial opens Monday, April 1, at Lancaster.
Last year, Williams played first singles and Clear and Nader played first doubles. Williams and Clear are expected to play first and second singles, respectively, this season, and Nader and juniors Ryan Cash and Andrew Lyons are competing for third singles, with the two who don't earn the position teaming up at doubles.
"Williams has a solid game with a heavy top spin, Clear is a power-and-serve guy and Nader is consistent with a good volley game," 12th-year coach Shawn Walter said. "We also have good depth. We should play about 10 players on varsity. We hope to win lots of matches with our third-singles and second-doubles courts."
Last season, Watkins Mem-orial did not have any Division I district qualifiers and went 3-4 in OCC-Capital dual matches. The Warriors finished the league tournament with 23 points to place sixth in the overall standings, behind New Albany (77, 7-0), Orange (45, 5-2), Big Walnut (44, 6-1), Delaware (38, 4-3) and Bradley (25, 2-5) and ahead of Mount Vernon (14, 1-6) and Franklin Heights (2, 0-7).
"Our goals are to finish with a winning record and get one, two or three players to district," Walter said.