Second-year coach Jim Bernowski isn't ready to say the Westerville North High School baseball program has returned to its glory years after the Warriors finished 19-11, but he said it took a major step in the right direction by putting together its first winning season since 2005.

Second-year coach Jim Bernowski isn't ready to say the Westerville North High School baseball program has returned to its glory years after the Warriors finished 19-11, but he said it took a major step in the right direction by putting together its first winning season since 2005.

North -- which went 13-15 in 2006, 9-17 in 2007 and 8-14 last year after 28 consecutive winning seasons -- also advanced past the second round of the Division I district tournament for the first time since 2004. It lost to third-seeded Olentangy Liberty 7-4 in a district semifinal May 19.

"We're not quite back to where we were in the 1980s and 1990s when we were winning league and district championships, but the ship is turning in the right direction," Bernowski said. "We've improved dramatically from last year, and I'm hoping that next year we'll take the next step and win a championship."

The Warriors opened 9-3, including 7-1 during a spring-break trip to Cocoa, Fla.

"Going 7-1 in Florida was the biggest highlight of our season," senior shortstop Jacob Thuman said. "We had a great time with each other, became better friends and created a lot of great memories that we'll still be talking about 20 years from now."

North went 4-6 in its next 10 OCC-Cardinal Division games after returning from Florida and finished fourth at 6-8 behind Dublin Scioto (12-2), Liberty (12-2) and Dublin Jerome (8-6) and ahead of Marysville (5-9), Olentangy (5-9), Westerville Central (4-10) and Westerville South (4-10).

North beat Central 10-0 in six innings April 24 and 10-6 on May 15 and lost to South 14-4 on April 28 and 6-3 on May 8.

"Taking two against Central was really good for our program, especially doing it in the fashion that we did, scoring 10 runs in each game," Bernowski said.

The 12th-seeded Warriors opened the district tournament May 11 with a 14-2 victory over Thomas Worthington, then beat St. Charles 2-1 in the second round May 14.

North will lose six senior starters in Tyler Antonides (P), Keegan Hale (LF), Josh Hood (2B), Brandon Natale (1B), Thuman (SS) and Jeff Warbritton (RF).

Thuman, who batted .381 with three home runs, 37 RBI and 26 runs, was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Natale, who batted .381 with three home runs, 22 RBI and 22 runs, was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Antonides batted .348 with 11 RBI and 10 runs and Warbritton batted .301 with 19 RBI and 21 runs.

Five starters are expected to return in juniors Joey Detty (CF), Andrew Forrest (P), Wyatt Tucker (C) and Kyle Workman (DH) and freshman Jake Miller (3B).

Forrest went 5-5 with a 2.93 ERA and Miller went 5-2 with a 4.7 ERA. Workman batted .412 with six RBI and seven runs, Tucker batted .395 with 17 RBI and 19 runs and Detty batted .308 with 22 RBI and 24 runs.

"We're losing quality players, but the young guys will step in and we won't miss a beat," Bernowski said. "We're returning our No. 1 pitcher and catcher, and Jake Miller will move to shortstop and Kyle Workman will move to second base, so our cupboard isn't bare by any means. Instead of rebuilding like we've done the past few years, I think we're finally ready to reload."

At a glance

•Record: 19-11 overall, 6-8 (fourth) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Tyler Antonides, Kiley Gessner, Keegan Hale, Josh Hood, Brandon Natale, Jacob Thuman and Jeff Warbritton

•Key returnees: Joey Detty, Andrew Forrest, Jake Miller, Wyatt Tucker and Kyle Workman