The Reynoldsburg High School baseball team that took the field for its March 24 opener didn't resemble the one that closed last season losing in a Division I district final.

The Reynoldsburg High School baseball team that took the field for its March 24 opener didn't resemble the one that closed last season losing in a Division I district final.

The Raiders lost 10 players from a year ago to graduation, including eight starters.

In addition, senior first baseman Jeff Murray had microfracture surgery on his right knee last fall and has not been cleared to play. Murray, who has signed with the University of Cincinnati, had 11 home runs and 76 RBI the past two seasons.

Junior catcher Nick Hedrick, a starter since his freshman season, thinks the Raiders might experience early growing pains.

"The young guys have talent and heart for the game but need to know what they are doing every game," Hedrick said. "We might start slow but come through later in the season."

The Raiders finished 16-11 overall last season and tied Grove City for third (9-5) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind champion Pickerington North (12-2) and Gahanna (10-4) and ahead of Pickerington Central (8-6), Groveport (3-11), Newark (3-11) and Lancaster (2-12).

Reynoldsburg opened the district tournament with a 9-4 win over Whetstone then beat 11th-seeded Marysville 7-4 and upset third-seeded New Albany 3-0 before falling to Westerville Central 12-7 in the final.

The Raiders opened this season three losses, falling to Westerville South 10-3 and 5-4 on March 24 and to Dublin Coffman 10-0 in five innings on March 26. Reynoldsburg played its home opener March 28 against Briggs and opens league play Monday, April 2, at Grove City.

Hedrick will catch a pitching staff led by sophomore Alex Core. The other pitchers are seniors Kody Herring, Owen McCloskey, Devin Royer and Ryan Shaw and sophomore Hunter Steele.

Junior Jeremy Williams, who pitched last season, has been experiencing elbow problems and will start the season in the outfield.

The other outfielders are sophomores Alex Bowen and Core, senior John Melzer and juniors Tre Rowe and Nate Wallace.

Infielders include senior Matt Dayton, juniors Eliot Ladowitz and Colton McCroskey and Herring, McCloskey, Shaw and Steele.

The 2011 graduates included pitchers Halen Core (3-3; second-team all-league) and Nick Analogue (5-1), second baseman Mike Castro (.428 batting average; second-team all-league), center fielder J.C. Gibson (.530, 4 home runs, 39 RBI; OCC-Ohio co-Player of the Year), designated hitter Tommy Nobile (19-game hitting streak), right fielder Drew Otani, third baseman Jon Sheline (.450, 4 home runs, 31 RBI; second-team all-league) and left fielder Taylor Snare (.380; honorable mention all-league).

Third-year coach Rob Gravatt said his team has strengths despite its youth and inexperience.

"In scrimmages, we have been hitting the ball decent and better than I expected," Gravatt said. "The outfield will be one of our strengths as well."

Reynoldsburg batted .366 as a team last season and .406 in 2010.

Gravatt believes this team will hit as well.

"Tre has been hitting and Colton has been hitting the cover off the ball, we'll have to find a place for him in the lineup," Gravatt said. "Nick (Hedrick) always hits for us and Jeremy (Williams) and Alex (Core) have been hitting well."

Shaw, who started last season at shortstop, and Hedrick are the only players in the infield with starting experience.

"It will be a chance to help the young players develop," Shaw said. "We have good speed and can hit the ball well. Our defense needs work but has been getting better."