With nine seniors returning from a squad that was a district runner-up in Division II, there figures to be some pressure on the Hartley High School baseball team this season.

With nine seniors returning from a squad that was a district runner-up in Division II, there figures to be some pressure on the Hartley High School baseball team this season.

But coach Morgan Assmann is downplaying any expectations on the Hawks, who lost to eventual state champion Jonathan Alder 7-1 in a district final last year to finish 17-10 overall. Hartley finished fourth (5-5) in the CCL behind champion DeSales (8-2), St. Charles (7-3) and Watterson (6-4) and ahead of Worthington Christian (4-6) and Ready (0-10).

"If everybody hits their peak at the right time, we could be good," Assmann said. "You know, the only pressure on us is the pressure we put on ourselves. The thing I stress a lot is that we have to have fun and play the game with a smile on our faces."

Hartley is boosted by its strong infield defense and pitching.

The nine seniors are Connor Callahan (OF), Alex Heinmiller (P/C), Jack Imwalle (3B), Kendall Johnson (CF/P), Alex Lowe (2B), Nick Owens (utility), Caleb Parker (1B/P), Nathan Tentler (P/1B) and Austin Underwood (SS).

Johnson is the team's top pitcher and starts in center field when he's not on the mound. He's joining the team late after helping the boys basketball team reach a Division II state semifinal. Heinmiller and his brother, sophomore Luke Heinmiller, expect to split time at catcher.

The Hawks' defense should be strong, said Assmann, whose team opened with a 6-4 loss to Newark on March 28.

"We've got a pretty decent infield," he said. "If we keep the ball down we have the potential to turn double plays. Our goal is to do that at least one time in every game."

Though the lineup isn't void of power hitters - Johnson hit two grand slams in a win over Ready last season - Assmann anticipates playing more small ball.

"One of my big things is bunting," he said. "I'd like us to be a good bunting team.

"Jonathan Alder played the bunt well last year, so we have to lay it down and play small ball occasionally."

•The softball team is seeking a league title and a trip to a Division II district title game.

The Hawks lost 3-2 to Olentangy in the second round of last year's district tournament to finish 10-16 overall.

Hartley was fourth (3-5) in the CCL behind champion DeSales (8-0), Ready (5-3) and Watterson (4-4), and ahead of Worthington Christian (0-8).

"The girls are competitive and driven, so I let them set the goals," coach Meghan Rowlands said. "They're certainly aware of where they stand."

Leading Hartley are seniors Emma Caputo (1B) and Hannah Chalfant (OF), juniors Erin Collins (C) and Erica Eakin (P), sophomores Anna Kirk (SS/2B/3B) and Tiffany Wolf (P) and freshman Sidney Melton (2B/SS/3B).

Collins is catching for the first time since seventh grade. She played shortstop as a freshman and was in the outfield last season.

"I'm really excited about our ability to run the bases right now," said Rowlands, whose team opened March 29 at home against Hilliard Davidson. "That was a weakness for us last season.

"Right now we need to hit the ball more. We need those dangerous hitters that can change the game with one swing."

•The boys tennis team must replace four 2010 graduates who spent four seasons on varsity.

Last season, the Hawks finished 9-5 overall and were fourth (2-3) in the CCL behind champion Watterson (5-0), DeSales (4-1) and St. Charles (2-2) and ahead of Worthington Christian (1-3) and Ready (0-5). St. Charles and Worthington Christian did not complete full league schedules because of weather cancellations.

The Hawks were represented at the Division II district tournament by the doubles team of John Mueller and Josh Pecinovsky, which advanced to a semifinal and missed qualifying for state by one win.

The only players on this year's team with varsity experience are senior Ryan Girard and sophomore Stefen Toone. Girard is the top singles player but has most of his experience in doubles.

Toone is expected to fill in at second singles, but may be part of the first-doubles team, according to coach Mike Graham.

Other players on the roster are senior Kyle Barger, junior Ethan Bolger and sophomores Jacob Barger and Connor Malone.

Hartley opened with a 4-1 win over Whitehall on March 28.

"We're very, very young and inexperienced, so I don't know what to expect," Graham said. "Our main thing is that we want to be competitive. Some of the guys have never played an organized tennis match. So, we're young and inexperienced, but we're going to have some fun as well."