Watterson High School boys lacrosse coach Tom Foley braced himself for the possibility of a rebuilding season after his team lost 12 players, including seven starters, from its 2013 roster to graduation.
Turns out the Eagles more or less reloaded, as they finished 9-8 and were competitive in all but one of their losses.
"I was a little concerned at first because we didn't have the same level of experience that last year's team had," said Foley, whose team went 11-5 last year. "But we have a great group of fighters and we never gave up no matter how tough the competition was. The cool thing about our program is we're getting to the point where we're starting to reload every year instead of having to rebuild."
Watterson lost three of its first four games, including a 6-5, double-overtime loss to DeSales in its opener April 2, before winning six of its next seven games, including a 14-3 victory at Granville on May 6. Then, after losing their final three regular-season games, the Eagles won two games in the Division II Central/Northwest Region tournament before losing to DeSales 7-6 in a regional semifinal May 28.
"Granville beat some of the teams we lost to this season and they were on a good run when we beat them," Foley said. "That was probably the best we played all year."
Seeded fourth in the region, Watterson defeated 12th-seeded Big Walnut 18-2 in a play-in game May 21 and beat fifth-seeded Granville 8-4 in the first round May 23 before falling to the top-seeded Stallions.
Seven of Watterson's eight losses were by three goals or fewer, with the exception being a 15-5 loss to eventual Division II state champion Cincinnati Mariemont on May 10.
"We were right there in every game even though we were so young," Foley said. "Both of our wins over Granville were big highlights and both of our losses to DeSales were nail-biters that could have gone either way."
The Eagles lose eight seniors, including four starters in goalkeeper Austin Schlosser and midfielders Eli Kirk, Pat Pirrmann and Evan Woosley.
Woosley was named third-team all-state and first-team all-region. Pirrmann (20 goals, 15 assists) and Schlosser were both second-team all-region, and Kirk (26 goals, 10 assists) was honorable mention all-region.
Expected to return are juniors Tommy Hatem (attacker), Teddy Hoying (midfielder), Derek Petrucci (defender), Josh Rhodes (goalie), Brian Sapp (midfielder) and Hunter Spencer (attacker), sophomore Nick Melaragno (defender) and freshmen Sam Alves (midfielder), John Blevins (long-stick midfielder), Nicolas Giesler (defender), Adam Kasun (midfielder), Andrew McQuade (attacker), A.J. Rigsby (attacker) and Riley Taylor (midfielder).
Melaragno was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-region. McQuade (14 goals, 26 assists) was second-team all-region and Hatem (24 goals, 3 assists) was honorable mention all-region.
Spencer had 19 goals and five assists and Taylor had 17 goals and four assists.
"We were young this year and we're going to be loaded with talent next year," Foley said. "We're going to add another really talented freshman class next year because our feeder program, the Columbus Saints, finished second in the Division I state tournament this spring. I'm really excited about our future."
Baseball team won CCL championship
Among the highlights for the baseball team this season was its first league title since 2009.
Watterson went 7-1 in the CCL to finish ahead of St. Charles (6-2), DeSales (3-5), Hartley (3-5) and Ready (1-7).
"Winning the CCL was the highlight of our season," said coach Scott Manahan, who has guided the Eagles to 14 CCL titles in 20 seasons."I'm pleased that we were able to beat DeSales twice (6-0 on May 7 and 7-6 on April 16) and we had a big win over St. Charles (13-3 on April 29) to cement our title. Beating Bloom-Carroll (5-1 on May 8) was big, too."
Heading into their matchup, Bloom-Carroll was 20-0 and ranked first in the Division II state poll.
Seeded fourth of 27 teams in the Division II district tournament, Watterson had a first-round and defeated 20th-seeded Whitehall 10-0 in five innings in the second round May 15 and sixth-seeded Lakewood 6-4 in a district semifinal May 19 before losing to top-seeded Bloom-Carroll 7-2 in a district final May 21 at Beavers Field in Lancaster to finish 18-8 overall.
Bloom-Carroll went on to win the state title, finishing 29-2.
"It's nice to shoot for a 20-win season, but our schedule was probably tough enough that an 18-win season is a good accomplishment," Manahan said.
Watterson loses nine seniors, including five starters in Scott Carter (RF), Joe DiOrio (C), Sam Severance (LF), Mitch Stotler (SS/P) and Bobby Truelove (2B).
Severance had a .402 batting average with three home runs, six triples, nine doubles, 24 RBI and 36 runs and was named second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league.
Stotler batted .395 with 20 runs and was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district and all-league. DiOrio hit .315 with 19 runs and was second-team all-district, and Truelove batted .315 and was first-team all-league.
Among those expected to return are six players who started or saw significant playing time in juniors Jacob Bolton (3B/DH/P), Matt Froehle (1B), Avery Janning (SS/3B/P), Sam Rice (P), Chris Slavik (P) and Teddy Walter (CF).
Rice went 7-2 on the mound with a 1.10 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings and was first-team all-district and all-league. Janning batted .329 with nine doubles, 26 RBI and 21 runs and was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league, and Bolton hit .366 with 14 RBI and 19 runs and was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league.
Slavik went 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA, one save and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings.
"It's going to be nice to have so much pitching back," Manahan said. "Our biggest concern next year will be finding hitting to replace what the seniors provided us with."
Softball team improved over course of season
Having just one returning starter from the 2013 season in junior first baseman Katie Manahan, the softball team struggled early but showed improvement over the course of the season.
Watterson finished 5-14 overall and went 1-5 in the CCL to place fourth behind DeSales (6-0), Hartley (3-3) and Ready (2-4).
The Eagles lost their first seven games but closed the regular season with back-to-back victories over Ready (7-5 in eight innings in their CCL finale May 7) and Warsaw River View (12-1 in five innings May 9).
Seeded 40th of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament, Watterson defeated 21st-seeded Central Crossing 9-8 in the first round May 13 before losing to 11th-seeded Big Walnut 3-0 in the second round May 16.
"This wasn't a phenomenal season overall, but the end of the season was fantastic," coach Tracey Cultice said. "Our turnaround started with our win over Ready and we played great in both tournament games. I wish we had two more weeks because our girls were really starting to click."
The Eagles, who finished 19-5 in 2013, lose three senior starters in Chloe Butcher (2B), Katie Devine (CF) and Erin Farmwald (designated player).
Devine was second-team all-league.
Expected back are eight players who started or saw significant playing time in Manahan, juniors Maria Simmonds (3B) and Avery Wakefield (LF), sophomores Ashley Competti (P), Mallory Devine (RF) and Claire Kudika (C) and freshmen Erin Vonderwell (P) and Katrina Wierzbicki (SS).
Manahan was second-team all-district and first-team all-league, Wierzbicki was first-team all-league and Kudika and Simmonds both were second-team all-league.
"We stayed positive the entire season and a lot of that was because of the leadership of our seniors," Cultice said. "Now our players have a little experience under their belts and we're hoping that will make a difference next year."