Kerry Maher and Jerry Rees are teaming up to lead the Westland High School softball program.
They were named co-coaches to replace Mike North, who resigned after 10 seasons. The Cougars finished 0-25 overall and 0-14 in the OCC-Central Division last season and were 79-154 under North.
Westland, which is looking for its first winning season since 2009 when it finished 12-11, opens Tuesday, April 1, at home against Beechcroft.
"We like what we see," Rees said. "(The players are) hustling all the time. We're trying to come back from last year. They're out working hard every day. They're here all the time and they're doing a very good job."
Rees, 57, graduated from Westland in 1975 and Maher, 37, is a 1995 Westland graduate. Rees' daughter, Brandi, who was a four-year varsity pitcher for the Cougars before graduating in 2010, is an assistant pitching coach.
"Jerry and I are working really well together," Maher said. "We're on the same page and have a lot of the same philosophies."
Seniors Hannah Matheny (P/OF) and Kaitlyn Willming (CF/INF/P) and junior Hunter Hay (2B/P) are expected to share the pitching duties. Sophomore Emilee Sturgell also could see time in the circle.
"Since Brandi left, we've struggled pitching," Rees said. "We're trying to work our way back in. There's a lot of inexperience in pitching, but we're working our way up."
Sophomore Kaylee Barber returns as the starting shortstop.
"Kaylee is a playmaker," Maher said.
Other returnees are seniors Marina Gooch (RF, utility player) and Taylor Wegman (LF, utility player), juniors Savannah Badillo (1B) and Alyson White (C/1B) and sophomore Maria Hamilton (C).
Other players include junior Brooke Greenlee (3B) and sophomore Taylor Krajewski (OF/2B).
Gooch, Wegman and Will-ming are captains.
Maher serves as director of competition and development for the Scioto Kids Association, which offers youth baseball, softball and flag football, in Commercial Point. Among his goals at Westland is the formation of a youth program.
"We're looking for the future here," Maher said. "We're trying to build a solid program. This year, it's going to be kind of a building year and having fun. We want to make sure that these seniors go out and enjoy the season."
"We have no feeder programs and Kerry is working on building that," Rees said.
Westland, which opens OCC-Central play April 7 at Marysville, lost two players from last season to graduation in pitcher Ashley Haulter and catcher Michaela Williams.
Haulter was named special mention all-league and Williams was honorable mention all-league.
Baseball team focused on fundamentals
The baseball team is focusing on the basics in an effort to improve on last season, when it finished 1-27 overall and 0-14 in the OCC-Central.
"We've been working on fundamentals and trying to get these guys to play," 11th-year coach Dave Daniels said.
Westland, which opened March 29 at Worthington Kilbourne, returns four players in seniors Nick Green (OF/P), Daniel McBee (SS/P) and Zach Riley (3B/P) and junior Nolan Lee (P/utility player).
McBee is expected to bat leadoff and Lee is expected to be the team's No. 1 pitcher.
Another key player is junior Matt Mitchell (CF), who is expected to bat second in the lineup.
"We're going to have to generate runs as much as we can, so I'm putting Matt in a responsible role as a junior," Daniels said.
Other players include seniors Brandon Cabral (1B) and Austin Wimberly (OF), juniors Curtis Dyer (P/OF), Ryan Parlette (C) and Mitchell Wallner (P/INF) and sophomores Josh Binion (P/INF) and Kacey Browning (P/utility player).
"We've been outside practicing, working hard, and it's a good group of boys," Daniels said. "I'm always an optimist. We're young. We only have four guys with any varsity experience, but we're going to see what happens."
Daniels is hoping his team can be more competitive in the OCC-Central. Westland begins league play April 7 at Marysville.
"Our division is a tough out," he said. "There's a lot of good clubs there. Dublin Coffman, Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington, Olentangy Liberty, they're all good."
Westland lost eight players from last year to graduation, including Korey Browning (P/SS/OF), who had a team-high .320 batting average and 11 RBI and made special mention all-league, and Steven Gonzalez (P/OF), who was honorable mention all-league.