The Thomas Worthington High School baseball team has been able to retain players after they enter the program as freshmen.

The Thomas Worthington High School baseball team has been able to retain players after they enter the program as freshmen.

The Cardinals had 11 seniors last season. And while that might put some programs into a rebuilding phase, Thomas simply ushered in another big senior class.

"We're an established program, and we never empty the cupboard," 14th-year coach Stephen Gussler said. "We do a pretty good job of retaining the kids when they're in the program. Of the nine seniors, seven of them lettered last year. They weren't major contributors, but I feel comfortable with them getting in there."

Thomas was 17-12 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season, which ended with a 9-8 loss to Upper Arlington in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

Part of the new look is in the infield. Not all the players are new to varsity, but they are new to playing the infield on varsity.

"We'll have a completely new infield, which might worry some people, but our kids have played enough baseball last year and throughout the summer," said Gussler, whose team opens Tuesday, March 29, at Dublin Scioto. "It will be interesting to see if we truly upgrade in those areas. We lost a lot of good players, but I think the next group is prepared."

Senior shortstop Jacob Semerar, junior first baseman David Lykens and junior second baseman Matt Zuccaro are moving to the infield from the outfield. Junior Drew Taylor and sophomores Nick Highly and Ben Miller are competing for time at third base. Senior Collin Finn returns at catcher.

Semerar batted .371 last season, the highest among returnees. Finn has the second highest batting average among returnees (.341).

Gussler played Semerar in the outfield last season to get his bat into the lineup. He's played the infield on his summer travel teams.

"It's an adjustment moving in from playing the outfield," Semerar said. "But it's going pretty good. I've been an infielder all my life. The other guys have also been playing infield all their lives and a lot of us have played travel ball together."

Senior Chris Boyd, juniors Zach Evaline and Dylan Holmes and sophomore Roscoe Blackburn will see time in the outfield.

Lykens and Blake Adkins (3-2, 3.28 ERA) should be the top pitchers.

Also on the team are seniors Tony Ezzi and Matt Moore and juniors Kirby Boehm, Matt Hofacre and Wes Lindenmuth.

"(On March 17) we had an intrasquad scrimmage and it was a good, close game," Semerar said. "We were scoring runs. I really like how we have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen that can really add something. I'm excited."

The Cardinals started slow last season before winning six of their final nine games. They tied Hilliard Darby and Hilliard Davidson for third in the OCC-Central behind champion Kilbourne (12-2) and UA (11-3). Dublin Coffman finished sixth at 7-7, followed by Central Crossing (2-12) and Westland (0-14). Thomas defeated every team in the league last season except Darby.