The Upper Arlington High School baseball team didn't achieve its goals this season, but junior shortstop/pitcher Michael Koltak believes he and his teammates can draw inspiration from the Golden Bears' 2010 squad as they prepare for next year.

The Upper Arlington High School baseball team didn't achieve its goals this season, but junior shortstop/pitcher Michael Koltak believes he and his teammates can draw inspiration from the Golden Bears' 2010 squad as they prepare for next year.

UA finished 8-13 in 2009 but rebounded last year, going 23-9 and winning a Division I district championship.

This season, the Bears finished 7-17 overall and lost to 11th-seeded Marysville 3-2 in the first round of the district tournament May 9. They played three makeup games in the OCC-Central Division after being eliminated from the tournament, losing to Hilliard Davidson 6-0 on May 12 and defeating Westland 5-3 on May 10 and 12-3 on May 13.

UA finished 6-8 in the OCC-Central to place sixth, behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Davidson (10-4), Worthington Kilbourne (10-4), Hilliard Darby (7-7) and Thomas Worthington (7-7), and ahead of Central Crossing (2-12) and Westland (1-13).

"When you look back on the season, we didn't get as far as we wanted to (in the district tournament) and we didn't win as many games as we wanted to," Koltak said. "But there were some moments where you saw some good things and some moments when you saw we were a young team.

"We're going into (the offseason) with an open mind. The guys last year were not very successful the year before, but that experience helped them. If we come back mentally tougher and stronger physically, I don't see why we can't do what they did. I definitely have set a high standard in my mind for next year. With the experience we got this year, I don't see why we can't make a run at district next year."

Having returned just four letterwinners, UA was hindered by inexperience throughout the season, particularly early on. The Bears lost seven of their first eight games, and in four of those losses, their opponent scored the winning run in its final at-bat.

"Losing those four games that way, I thought that really hurt our psyche and set the tone for the year," coach Matt Middleton said.

Although the Bears showed progress at times, they were plagued by inconsistent play.

"I felt a couple times we took steps forward but then we would take a couple steps back, and you can't do that if you expect to be successful," Middleton said.

"Our goals are to win 20 games, win a league championship and win a district championship, but I can't say we underachieved or overachieved. I guess we can base (this season) on how we do next year because we have a lot of guys coming back."

UA loses five seniors in Jon Borchert (1B/P), Charles Cooper (OF/P), Charlie Hess (INF), Michael Jeffers (P) and Doug Radcliff (P).

Cooper had a .277 batting average with a team-high 18 RBI, 16 runs and a team-high six stolen bases, and he was 2-3 with a 2.76 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 33 innings on the mound. Borchert hit .370 with 15 RBI and 13 runs.

Jeffers was 1-3 with a 3.71 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings, and Radcliff was 1-2 with one save, a 4.44 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.

In addition to Koltak, expected to return are juniors Jordan Arkin (C), Michael Armstrong (INF/OF/P), Pat Crowley (C/OF), Austin Gibson (3B/P) and Eddie Miller (1B/3B/P), sophomores Chandler Cole (OF/P), Tyler Metcalf (INF/OF), Nick Milo (OF), Nick Reed (P), Brett Stricharczuk (INF/P) and Sam Thompson (INF/P) and freshmen Danny Hummer (OF), Will Marable (SS), Mathis Newman (OF/P) and Mitch Nini (2B).

Cole, who was expected to be the team's center fielder and leadoff hitter, missed the season with a hip injury.

Nini received the most playing time of the freshmen. He made his varsity debut in the fourth game, a 12-10, eight-inning loss to Fairfield on April 2, and was a starter the rest of the season. He batted .333 with 14 RBI and 10 runs.

"I don't think anybody expected that from him," Koltak said of Nini.

Marable also received significant playing time, starting at shortstop when Koltak was pitching.

Koltak hit .322 with 14 RBI and eight runs and was 2-4 with a 5.94 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. Other offensive leaders were Miller (.322, 12 RBI, team-high 19 runs), Crowley (.300, 10 RBI, 17 runs), Armstrong (.284, 8 RBI, 17 runs, 1 home run, 4 stolen bases) and Arkin (.375).

"We've got a lot of good kids, guys who are willing to work to get better," Middleton said. "As a unit, we have to get better in all aspects."