Coach Chick Campbell is proud not only of what his Pickerington High School Central baseball team accomplished, but of what both programs from Pickerington produced.

Coach Chick Campbell is proud not only of what his Pickerington High School Central baseball team accomplished, but of what both programs from Pickerington produced.

"Baseball is back in Pickerington," he said. "It's definitely evident from the success of North and Central this year."

Combined, the teams were 39-15 overall, with North winning the OCC-Central Division at 9-1 and Central tying Worthington Kilbourne for first at 7-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Central finished 16-10 overall after losing to Gahanna 18-13 in a Division I district championship May 21.

"We had a bunch of kids that never gave up, believed in themselves and the coaching staff and kept scrapping away," Campbell said. "They believed they could get to the next level. It was a big disappointment we lost the district championship, but I'm proud of the kids and coaches. We stuck together, stayed focused and had fun."

Central opened 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before winning six of seven as it and Kilbourne finished ahead of Dublin Jerome, Mount Vernon, Olentangy and Westerville South, all at 4-6.

Central received the No. 12 seed and defeated Marysville 4-3 on May 12 in the first round, Upper Arlington 13-3 on May 14 in the second round and top-seeded Hilliard Davidson 10-4 on May 19 in a district semifinal.

Of the 20 players on the roster, seven -- Ryan Albers (OF/P), Kyle Bosworth (OF/P), Alex Hughes (3B/1B/P), Josh Keller (1B/P), Trae Myers (2B/OF), Evan Schafer (3B/P) and Kevin Steele (OF/P) -- are seniors.

Albers and Steele were first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and Hughes and Myers were second team. Albers was first-team all-district and Hughes was honorable mention.

Albers led Central with a .419 batting average and he added 23 RBI.

On the mound, Steele was 3-0 in league games and Hughes was 5-2 overall, followed by Schafer (4-1) and Keller (2-0). Hughes led the Tigers in with 51 2/3 innings pitched as he struck out 29, walked 16 and had a 3.79 ERA.

Hughes (Ashland) and Schafer (Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C.) have signed letters of intent to continue their careers.

Those expected to return include juniors Kraig Allmandinger (INF/OF/P), Zach Boren (1B/P), Blaine Burgess (C/P), J.Q. Cromwell (OF/P), Nick Raymond (OF/P), Bryan Rudolph (OL/P) and Dan Walter (3B/P) and sophomores Josh Kristoff (SS), Patrick Beaver (P/OF), Colton Meier (P/OF), Nick Rush (P/1B), Ethan Way (C) and Isac Franklin (SS).

Boren was a co-Player of the Year in the OCC-Cardinal and first-team all-district as he hit .416 with 29 RBI. Burgess hit .343 with five home runs.

"We have a great core coming back," Campbell said. "The big thing is to continue to grow together and just play baseball together realizing what is ahead of them. We have a league championship to defend, we're going into a new, tough league and we got the goal of a district championship. There are plenty of challenges in front of them."

•North coach Tim Thomas admitted he has replayed the Panthers' district semifinal loss to Newark 7-3 on May 19.

"The kids are resilient, a lot more than us old coaches," Thomas said. "I told the kids after the game it was frustrating, shocking and disappointing. It's all the natural feelings you have after a loss, especially after a real successful year. The kids seem upbeat and they know what they have to do and are ready to get back to work."

North finished 23-5 overall. In the OCC-Central it finished ahead of Delaware at 7-3, Thomas Worthington at 6-4, Westerville Central at 5-5, Marysville at 2-8 and Central Crossing at 1-9.

The Panthers also won the first meeting between the two schools April 18 as they trounced the Tigers 17-4. A scheduled second meeting was postponed because of bad weather May 2 and never rescheduled. Next season, both programs will competed in the same OCC division.

In the postseason, the Panthers earned the No. 3 seed and after a first-round bye defeated Westerville North 11-5 to advance to a district semifinal.

Of the 18 players on the district tournament roster, 15 are expected to return.

"Expectations will be high and we want that," Thomas said. "I'd rather have a program with real high expectations than a program where no one cares."

North will lose seniors Chris Brubaker, Byron Johann and Adam Miller. Johann was first-team all-OCC, the district Player of the Year and first-team all-state.

Among those expected to return include juniors Alex Bayer, Alex Borgan, Eric Brindle, Matt Hayes, Jake Isabel and Kenny Yurasek. Brindle and Isabel were first-team all-OCC, Bayer, Hayes and Miller were named to the second team and Borgan received honorable mention. Brindle and Isabel were first-team all-district and Bayer received honorable mention.

"With all that experience coming back, it's nice from a coaching standpoint," Thomas said. "We'll put new stuff in and take things to the next level. A lot of these kids will have the third year with me, they know what's expected. It'll be nice having so many kids come back."

At a glance

CENTRAL

•Record: 16-10 overall, 7-3 (tied for first) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Ryan Albers, Kyle Bosworth, Alex Hughes, Josh Keller, Trae Myers, Evan Schafer and Kevin Steele

•Key returnees: Zach Boren, Blaine Burgess, Isac Franklin, Josh Kristoff, Nick Raymond and Bryan Rudolph

NORTH

•Record: 23-5 overall, 9-1 (first) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Chris Brubaker, Byron Johann and Adam Miller

•Key returnees: Alex Bayer, Alex Borgan, Eric Brindle, Matt Hayes, Jake Isabel and Kenny Yurasek