With its No. 1 pitcher and best hitter back, the Northland High School baseball team is expecting to be among the top teams in the City League-North Division again this spring.
The Vikings, who opened by losing to Centennial 5-2 on March 31, went 17-5 overall last year and placed third (10-4) in the league behind Whetstone (14-0) and Centennial (12-2).
"We feel pretty good about some of the kids we have with their travel experience," said Dean Washington, who is in his 29th season as coach. "We have to figure out how to replace the players we lost, but that's what makes it fun. (We're) putting a puzzle together."
Northland should be led on the mound by junior A.J. Seum (P/INF) and offensively by junior Gary Miller (P/SS/3B).
Other returnees are seniors Justin Hill (1B), Mark Murray (1B), Clay Siens (C) and Dante Smith (CF), juniors Matthew Burress (C/OF), Donavyn Harris (OF) and Zaire Leatherwood-Jones (OF) and sophomore Calvin Herpolsheimer (P/SS).
Also playing are seniors Nathan Harris (OF), Robert Jackson (OF) and Silas Williams (OF), sophomore Jeff Marple (INF/OF) and freshman Tyler Stewart (P/INF/OF).
Brookhaven is planning to take a step forward after going 9-17 overall and 7-7 in the City-North a year ago.
"We've got a lot of exper-ience," coach Joe Krabill said. "This should be the best team we've had in my five years."
The top players are juniors Giovaughnni Bonner (2B/P), Brian Brockman (P/C), Trevette Knight (P/2B/3B), Steven Pelletier (1B/3B/C) and Charles Peppers (3B).
Also looking to contribute are seniors Ne'Tronne Backus (OF), Keandre Powell (OF) and Robert Walker (OF/P), juniors Colby Ketchens (OF), Kerby Ketchens (SS) and Fortese Smith (P/OF), sophomores Macyah Fleming (1B) and Fred Slone (P/1B) and freshmen Tyree Camara (OF) and Kylan Yarbrough (OF).
Brookhaven opened by beating Mifflin 5-4 on March 31, losing to Franklin Heights 21-5 on April 1 and losing to Groveport 11-1 and 19-0 on April 5.
Beechcroft has five returning starters in seniors Jordan Nalls (P/C/INF) and Nashon Owens (3B) and juniors Angello Gonzalez (C), Bryan Oxendine (P/1B) and Scott Scase (P/C/INF) after going 5-17 overall and 4-10 in the league.
Sophomores Javanie Anderson (P/OF) and Sheniel Samuels (P/OF) and freshmen Victor Darling (P/1B/OF), Aarin Smoot-Baker (P/INF/OF) and Anthony Wolff (C/INF/P) are other key players.
Beechcroft lost to Linden-McKinley 9-8 in its opener March 31 and fell to Whitehall 32-1 on April 1.
"We only won five games last season, so hopefully we can improve on that total," 15th-year coach Matt Bell said. "The versatility of Scase, Nalls and Wolff will be a big plus this season."
Softball teams begin season
Brookhaven softball coach Chuck Andrick is hoping to piece together a strong final season after his team went 8-7 overall and 8-6 in the City-North a year ago.
The Bearcats are led by senior De'Ache Rankin (1B/SS), junior Elizabeth Bell (P/SS) and sophomore Naomi Baker (P).
"We're going to go out and find a way to compete," said Andrick, who is in his 10th season.
Others playing are seniors Angel Byrne (3B) and Essence Jones (OF) and junior Tya Latham (C).
The Bearcats beat Mifflin 19-9 on March 31 and Col-umbus International 14-4 on April 1.
Beechcroft senior pitcher Mary Stewart did not start the season with the team because of an off-the-field situation according to coach Mandy Cox but was back by the second week of April.
Seniors are Melvon Cannady (P/1B), Starlah Germany (C), Stephanie Ibarra (2B), Elizabeth Ramos (OF), Janea Walburg (P/OF) and Alyssa Wright (OF).
Also looking to contribute are juniors Jasmin Goforth (2B), Ariana Holmes (3B), Tajounna Valentine (OF) and Te'a Wade (P/SS) and sophomores De'Chelle Buckhalter (1B), Myeika Sullivan (OF) and Mykylah Walker (OF).
"We have some really good athletes, but we're definitely facing some obstacles," said Cox, whose team went 11-5 overall and 10-4 in the City-North last season to place third behind Whetstone (14-0) and Centennial (12-2).
The Cougars opened by beating Linden 25-6 on March 31. They lost to Westland 17-0 on April 1.
Northland opened with losses to Centennial (18-2 on March 31) and Dublin Scioto (28-6 on April 1).
Seniors on the team are Jillian Deas (2B), Bradishia Foster (1B/OF), Kiana Hayes (LF/INF) and Madelyn Smith (C). Also playing are juniors Jasmine Caldwell (CF), Carli Codner-Pinto (SS), Joelle Freeman (1B/3B), Sasha Jones (P), Johely Martin (C/3B) and Clorissa Mendez (RF) and sophomores NaTaysia Edmonds (2B/OF) and Julia McFall (OF).
"We've got a lot of new players, but we've got a lot of leadership this year and that's something we've lacked in the past," said third-year coach Dan Zedeker, whose team went 7-14 overall and 6-7 in the league last year.