With only two players back with ample varsity playing experience, the Westland High School baseball team expects major contributions from its underclassmen.

With only two players back with ample varsity playing experience, the Westland High School baseball team expects major contributions from its underclassmen.

The Cougars open the season Tuesday at Central Crossing in a non-league contest.

The teams meet again on April 19 and May 5 in OCC-Central Division games.

"I'm a great friend of their coach (Scott Todd)," Westland coach David Daniels said. "We always like to play each other. We're in the same division now, so we have to play each other twice. The first game is like an add-on game. It's not a league game even though they're a league opponent. They're going to be a lot like us. They're down the street, so they're usually like we are. They're pretty pesky, they'll fight and play real hard."

Westland opens OCC-Central play on April 5 at home against Hilliard Davidson.

Westland finished 7-17 last season and was winless in the OCC-Central at 0-14, behind first-place Dublin Coffman (12-2). The Cougars fell to Whetstone 6-5 in a Division I district tournament game.

Seniors Sean Clutter and Lucas Pencek should lead Westland.

Clutter, who batted .279 with 11 runs scored, two doubles and 10 RBI. He was also named the team's most valuable player last season. Clutter will pitch and also play shortstop.

Pencek emerged as the top pitcher on the team last season according to Daniels. Pencek will also play in the outfield.

"We have some pretty good talent, but we're pretty young though," Pencek said. "I think we can do some pretty good things. We have to work together because we're so young. Communication is a key. Sean and I have to be the leaders."

Other seniors are Dylan Douglas (OF/P), who played at the junior varsity level last season, and Brian Fisher (OF), who sat out last season.

The juniors are Caleb Harshbarger (IF) and Andy Runkle (OF/P). Daniels expects Runkle to be a key member of the pitching staff.

Sophomores Kris Carius (P/IF), Jake Cook (C/IF), Junior Reyes (utility), Lineurys Sanchez (IF), D.J. Taylor (P/OF) and Brady Willis (P/IF) round out the team.

"This is a good group. I like being around them," Daniels said. "They are willing to work hard, they're fast, pretty athletic and we're going to have to try to take some of those things to our advantage."

Daniels expects another tight race in the division, with Coffman and Davidson again leading the charge.

Coffman and Davidson (11-3) finished one-two in the division last season, followed by Hilliard Darby (8-6), Thomas Worthington (7-7), Upper Arlington (7-7), Central Crossing (6-8), Worthington Kilbourne (5-9) and Westland.

"This is always a tough division," Daniels said. "Going by what they have coming back from last year, I think Davidson and Coffman are the two that jump right out. Darby is always good. Thomas Worthington is always competitive. It can be anybody."

At a glance

•Coach: David Daniels, eighth season

•Opener: Tuesday at Central Crossing

•Key players: Sean Clutter, Lucas Pencek and Andy Runkle

SCHEDULE

March 30 at Central Crossing

March 31 at Westerville South

*April 5 vs. Hilliard Davidson

April 6 vs. Reynoldsburg

*April 7 at Dublin Coffman

*April 9 vs. Worthington Kilbourne

April 10 vs. Franklin Heights (DH)

*April 12 at Thomas Worthington

April 13 at Delaware Hayes

*April 14 at Upper Arlington

*April 16 vs. Hilliard Darby

April 17 vs. Fairfield Union (DH)

*April 19 at Central Crossing

*April 21 at Hilliard Davidson

*April 23 vs. Dublin Coffman

*April 26 at Worthington Kilbourne

April 27 vs. Westerville South

*April 28 vs. Thomas Worthington

April 29 at West

*April 30 vs. Upper Arlington

May 1 South-Western City Schools Classic at Central Crossing and Westland (DH)

*May 3 at Hilliard Darby

*May 5 vs. Central Crossing

May 6 at Bexley

*OCC-Central contest