Based on what he saw in four scrimmages, DeSales High School baseball coach Tom Neubert thinks any complacency his team might have coming off a Division II state championship rests in his own mind.

Based on what he saw in four scrimmages, DeSales High School baseball coach Tom Neubert thinks any complacency his team might have coming off a Division II state championship rests in his own mind.

"One of my worries was us coming in a little complacent and I don't think we have," said Neubert, who is in his fifth season. "We've improved physically and have gotten stronger and quicker. Every part of our game, we've tried to improve, and we've worked hard to do that. I don't think these guys have a satisfied feeling. This is their senior year. I have 12 seniors who (think) this is their year. They want to make sure last year wasn't a fluke.

"To a certain extent, are the guys set up to fail? You worry about that or them putting too much pressure on themselves. But this group plays so loose and they have so much fun together that I'm not sure it'll be an issue. It might be more of an issue in my mind."

Despite having no seniors on their roster last season, the Stallions went 21-9 overall, defeating Akron Hoban 9-8 in the state final to capture the program's first state championship since 1979. They also won their third district championship and second regional title in four years.

DeSales returns its entire roster, including 12 seniors. That class will be led by pitcher and middle infielder T.J. Alas - who was 9-0 last year with a 1.75 ERA and had a team-best .398 batting average - as well as four-year starting catcher Jack Miller, middle infielders Brennan Schlabig and Nick Eltzroth, first baseman Brad Bohus and third baseman Zak DeCamp.

The corps of outfielders consists of seniors Chris Kurek, Ryan Maloney, Daulton Nebraska, Domenic Delmonte and Derek Traini and junior Alex Perrine.

Also on the team are senior Mario Pollina (C/P), junior Bryce Roten (1B/P/OF) and sophomores Bryan Stopar (1B), Aaron Kienzle (OF/P) and Connor Golden (P/OF/1B).

Last season, Perrine hit .395 and Eltzroth batted .394. Alas, Eltzroth and Traini were named second-team all-district.

DeSales opened March 24 by sweeping a doubleheader against Mount Vernon, winning 2-1 and 4-1. The Stallions begin CCL play Monday, April 2, at home against Watterson and then visit Ready on Wednesday, April 4, in a league game before heading to Hilton Head, S.C., to play four games in the Seahawk Baseball Invitational at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, beginning April 9.

DeSales won the CCL championship last year, going 7-1 and finishing ahead of Watterson (5-3), Hartley (4-4), Ready (2-6) and St. Charles (2-6).

"Luckily, 14 of the 17 guys on our roster are pitchers," Neubert said. "That's huge in high school baseball, and especially for us since we have 10 games in the first 13 days of the season. We have a lot of talented guys that can give us some good, quality innings that will be much needed."

Softball coach doesn't want players dwelling on last year

Coming off the program's first state tournament appearance since 1982, seventh-year softball coach Julie Barber is quick to remind her players that this year's team enters the season without achievement and is charged with writing its own legacy.

"We do not talk about a specific title or championship in our program. In fact, we do not even talk about the 'teams to beat,'" said Barber, whose team lost to LaGrange Keystone 5-3 in a Division II state semifinal last season and finished 26-4 overall. "Instead, we stress the importance of respecting the game and playing it to its full potential. For us, that includes solid, fundamentalĘdefensive skills, aggressive baserunning and selfless situational hitting. Our players buy in to this system and they work to improve at it every day."

Seniors and four-year letterwinners Bryn Allen (1B), Kelsey Albanese (SS) and Sarah Flint (P/OF) return to lead DeSales, which also features seniors Sierra Brown (C), Samantha Byrne (OF), Michele Gregory (OF), Cassidy Jenkins (OF) and Deonna Jones (OF). Jenkins and junior Anna Gentile (2B) are three-year letterwinners.

Flint, who hit .489 last season, will replace four-year starter Kelsey Seeds, a first-team all-state selection a year ago, in the circle.

"During the offseason, she dedicated herself to an aggressive strength and pitching program and we were absolutely amazed at the improvement," Barber said of Flint. "She is one of a few left-handed pitchers in the area, and I believe that she will be quite a surprise to many teams."

Allen, Albanese and Gentile all batted better than .325 last year. Albanese has signed to play at Ohio Dominican University.

Also on the team are juniors Andrea Begeny (2B/SS), Katie Erwin (OF) and Alison Rodriguez (3B/OF) and sophomores Chloe Biskner (3B) and Kristine Byrum (P).

DeSales won the CCL title last year, going 6-0 to finish ahead of Ready (3-3), Hartley (2-4) and Watterson (1-5). The district title, earned with a 2-0 win over Hilliard Bradley, was the program's third in five years. DeSales cruised through the regional tournament, defeating New Concord John Glenn 14-2 in a semifinal and Logan Elm 9-0 in the final.

The Stallions opened against Pickerington North on March 27 and played Grove City on March 28. Their first road game is Thursday, March 29, at Big Walnut, and their CCL opener is April 16 at home against Watterson.