Given the success of the baseball team at New Albany High School, at least record-wise this season probably would fall into the "good, not great" category.

Given the success of the baseball team at New Albany High School, at least record-wise this season probably would fall into the "good, not great" category.

The Eagles finished 16-11 overall and reached a Division II district semifinal, one round shy of where they had lost the previous three years.

But for coach Bob Talpas, who guided the Eagles to the Division III state title in 2004, the experience with a team this young was hardly average.

"I told them this was a very enjoyable season with them," Talpas said.

"We only had four guys coming back from last year, we started off 0-3 and we ended up tying for the league championship and getting to a district (semifinal). I told them this is one of the more enjoyable teams I've coached because they've worked so hard."

For the second consecutive season, Watterson knocked New Albany out of the postseason, winning 3-1 in a district semifinal May 20. New Albany has reached at least a district semifinal for five consecutive seasons.

The Eagles defended their OCC-Capital Division title, winning a share of the championship with Watkins Memorial at 8-2. Dublin Scioto and Olentangy Liberty tied for third at 6-4, Franklin Heights was fifth at 2-8 and Big Walnut was last at 0-10.

Of the four returnees this year, three had started last year on a team that went 20-8 and lost in a district final.

Talpas expected that it could take some time for the players to jell and for him to find a consistent lineup, and he was partially right. The Eagles juggled several lineups and worked through a number of pitchers early, and their record reflected that.

But after starting just 6-5 overall, New Albany started to find a groove and won six of its next eight games to earn a fourth seed going into the district tournament.

New Albany also beat Big Walnut in their final league game May 7 and got some help when Scioto split two games with Watkins Memorial that same day, leaving New Albany and Watkins Memorial in a tie at the top.

After a first-round bye, New Albany beat Amanda-Clearcreek 10-0 in the second round May 15. But Watterson proved to be too tough with Mike Mahaffey on the mound. New Albany got a strong effort from senior pitcher Mitch Myers, but Mahaffey allowed just three hits and struck out six to lead Watterson to the win.

New Albany will lose three seniors, all of whom started for at least two seasons. Myers was in the starting rotation for four years and went 15-6 over his career with an ERA less than 2.00. Tristan Moore transferred from Gahanna after his sophomore season and fit in immediately at New Albany, starting at shortstop and figuring heavily into the pitching rotation. Moore, who has signed with Wright State, batted better than .500 this season and became the first New Albany player to be named to the first team of the Mizuno all-Ohio team.

Jordan Chiero started the past two seasons, playing first and third base and pitching. Chiero batted clean-up both seasons.

"It was tough at the beginning of the year, because they weren't used to leading the team, but they picked it up," Talpas said. "I'll give them credit. I told them, 'You guys have come a long way as leaders.' They got the team together, they bonded and the seniors, when you start the season 0-3, you can start to have some reservations, but they never hung their heads."

The Eagles should have plenty of experience coming back next year. Junior outfielder Jake Sullivan is the only two-year letterwinner, and he started in center field this season. Several other juniors moved up after playing on the junior varsity last year and found starting spots. Evan Sabo started at third base, Chance Moore started at second, Mike Kaufman started in right field and Matt Pantano started in left field. Mark Parent figured prominently into the Eagles' pitching rotation, and Trey Bowman started some at catcher, along with sophomore Christian Teeple.

Sophomore Joe Morlan (P/DH) and juniors Mike McNutt (INF) and Matt Kadylak (OF) also are expected back.

At a glance

•Record: 16-11 overall, 8-2 (tied for first) in OCC-Capital

•Seniors lost: Jordan Chiero, Tristan Moore and Mitch Myers

•Key returnees: Mike Kaufman, Chance Moore, Joe Morlan, Matt Pantano, Mark Parent, Evan Sabo and Jake Sullivan