Going into last season, the DeSales High School baseball team had yet to find itself.

Going into last season, the DeSales High School baseball team had yet to find itself.

The Stallions had to make up for the loss of 11 seniors and, outside of a couple of returning pitchers, there were a lot of questions hanging in the air about who was going to be the next group of leaders.

The situation has changed this season. DeSales returns nine letterwinners who helped the Stallions finish 22-9 overall and 8-2 in the CCL.

The season ended at Huntington Park in a Division II state semifinal, where the Stallions lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 2-0.

It was an ambitious run for a team full of newcomers and it has given credence to the idea of getting back to the state tournament. DeSales opened against Worthington Kilbourne last Monday and played Pickerington North last Tuesday and Canal Winchester last Wednesday.

"Expectations are as high as they are every year," third-year coach Tom Neubert said. "These guys got a little taste of the tournament run and getting down to Huntington Park.

"Instead of coming in (this season) and thinking, 'Hey, we're already pretty good,' these guys worked really hard in the offseason."

Senior Andrew Parise becomes the Stallions' ace after last season's departure of University of Cincinnati recruit Thomas Gentile. Parise was the No. 2 pitcher for two seasons. Behind him in the rotation are a host of players who are vying to become the new No. 2.

Included in that group are seniors Ryan Kelly, Sean Lynskey, Dylan Tate and Sean Vollenweider and juniors Nick Gentile, Joe Schwartzwalder and Nick Vitullo. Sophomores T.J. Atlas, Zack DeCamp, Joe Riley and Brennan Schlabig also are listed as potential pitchers.

The Stallions should have an experienced infield despite senior Mitch Herbert's move from third base to center field. Herbert was all-district last year. Senior Sean Lynskey moves to third base and Vollenweider returns at shortstop. Parise plays second base when he's not pitching. Tate and sophomore Jack Miller are the catchers. Miller was the starter last year.

The Stallions finished second in the CCL last year, behind Watterson (9-1) and ahead of Hartley (7-3), St. Charles (3-7), Worthington Christian (3-7) and Ready (0-10).

The Stallions beat Watterson 12-2 in the district title game before defeating Franklin 14-0 for the regional title.

•The softball team returns 11 letterwinners from a team that was 15-11 last year after losing to Canal Winchester 4-3 in a Division II district semifinal.

The Stallions are looking for that experience to be the season's guiding force.

"The effort and the enthusiasm have been amazing," said coach Julie Barber, whose team opened last Monday against Westerville North and played Sparta Highland last Tuesday and Hilliard Darby last Wednesday. " We have solid leadership and that makes a world of difference to a program."

The Stallions, who next play on April 7 against Grove City, return junior pitcher Kelsey Seeds, who is entering her third season as the Stallions' top pitcher. Seeds helped DeSales reach a district final in her first season and she was honorable mention all-state last year.

The rest of the infield features juniors Amanda Herron (3B), Courtney Somers (SS), Alysha Vafaee (1B) and Mary Wickert (C). Sophomores Kelsey Albanese (2B) and Bryn Allen (C/1B) will also see time in the infield.

The outfielders are senior Olivia Stranges and sophomores Sarah Flint and Cassady Jenkins. Flint also may pitch.

DeSales was second in the CCL last year at 6-2, behind Ready (8-0) and ahead of Hartley (3-5), Watterson (3-5) and Worthington Christian (0-8).

"We focus on our strengths as a program, speed and experience," Barber said. "We continue to work on solid fundamental softball. (With the experience) the kids are working at a faster pace."