The New Albany High School baseball team has been a fixture in the district semifinal and final rounds.

The New Albany High School baseball team has been a fixture in the district semifinal and final rounds.

The Eagles have reached at least a district semifinal in the past five seasons, but since winning the Division III state title in 2004, they have been unable to venture beyond the district tournament. With 11 players back from last year's squad, coach Bob Talpas is hopeful that the Eagles can make a deeper postseason run.

"Getting to that district game again and winning it would be big," Talpas said. "We've been getting to the semis and finals, and that's a good thing, but now we've got to push ahead and get to the regional."

"If we can get over that hump, it would be a big accomplishment," senior Evan Sabo said.

The Eagles finished 16-11 last season, losing to Watterson 3-1 in a Division II district semifinal. In conference, however, the Eagles did win a share of their second consecutive OCC-Capital Division title at 8-2. Watkins Memorial (8-2) tied for the league title, followed by Dublin Scioto (6-4), Olentangy Liberty (6-4), Franklin Heights (2-8) and Big Walnut (0-10).

Although the majority of last year's team is back, New Albany did lose two of its top pitchers (Mitch Myers and Tristan Moore) and two of its top hitters (Moore and Jordan Chiero). Talpas said this season's team is more balanced and faster across the board, and although it has a deeper pitching staff, it lacks the big arms on the mound like Myers and Moore.

"I think our overall team speed is good, defense is good, and I think we'll hit the ball a little bit," Talpas said. "Pitching is, I wouldn't say our weakness, but it's a question mark. I think we'll throw strikes, and I think we'll be around the plate."

The pitching staff will be led by seniors Jake Sullivan, Mark Parent and Evan Sabo and junior Joe Morlan, although several others are expected to see significant time on the mound.

Sullivan, the only third-year varsity player on the team, started in center field last season and will play there again this season when not on the mound. Sabo will start at third base for a second season when not pitching. Parent, who figured prominently in the pitching rotation last season, also will play shortstop and in the outfield this season. Morlan also will contribute in the infield.

Senior Chance Moore will start for a second season at second base, but the starting first baseman is still undecided. Sullivan will be joined in the outfield by seniors Matt Pantano (LF) and Mike Kaufman (RF), both returning starters.

Junior Christian Teeple returns at catcher, with senior Trey Bowman also expected to contribute at catcher, as well as at third.

Others on the roster include seniors Matt Kadylak (OF), Mike McNutt (RF) and juniors Brian Wyer (utility/P), Nolan Rehmar (utility), Michael Van Straten (utility) and Alex Bartholomew (1B/P).

Players said because of how experienced this team is, the team has been able to bond well early on.

"If one guy messes up, you know someone else is going to take care of them because we've got such good chemistry," Sullivan said.

At a glance

•Coach: Bob Talpas, 21st season

•Opener: Tuesday at Liberty Union

•Key players: Chance Moore, Evan Sabo and Jake Sullivan