Second-year Whitehall-Yearling High School baseball coach Bill Welsh is hoping his year of experience in the program will help lead to improvement this season.

Second-year Whitehall-Yearling High School baseball coach Bill Welsh is hoping his year of experience in the program will help lead to improvement this season.

Last season, the Rams finished 3-21 overall with a 9-0 loss to Sparta Highland in the first round of the Division II district tournament.

"I definitely think being in the second year in the building helps," Welsh said. "We return a lot of guys, so we get to know each other a lot better, so that's all been a positive for us going into this year."

Whitehall returns several players with varsity experience led by junior shortstop Cameron Barker, who last season was second-team all-MSL-Ohio Division and all-district after leading the Rams in batting average (.449) and RBI (15).

Senior Cody Koons (C/P), who led the team with seven stolen bases, was honorable mention all-district.

Senior Nick Wright (P/1B) had 12 RBI.

"We look really good, especially after last year," Wright said. "We look a lot better now. We're all jelled together now and (Welsh) is used to us and we're used to him being the coach."

Also back are seniors Paul Goldsmith (OF), James Holley (3B) and Noah Wiley (1B).

Other players are senior Myles Russell (P/INF), junior Nick Sang (2B/P), sophomores Shawn Barnes (INF/C) and Jake Somers (P/OF) and freshmen Braden Barker (OF/P/C) and Marquel Key (INF/P).

Whitehall will compete in a realigned MSL-Ohio with Bexley, Columbus Academy, Grandview, London, Madison Plains, West Jefferson and Worthington Christian.

"We have the talent to be in the mix," Welsh said. "If we execute we'll be there."

Last season, the Rams went 1-13 in the MSL-Ohio to finish eighth behind champion Granville (12-2). Granville, Heath, Lakewood, Licking Valley and Newark Catholic now are playing in the Licking County League.

The Rams lost two players from a year ago to graduation in Logan Webb (P/OF/INF) and Josh Horn (INF). Webb had a 3.11 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings and was honorable mention all-league and all-district, and Horn led the team in runs with 13.

"We only lost two seniors from last year's team, so we bring back a lot of guys that got playing time last year," Welsh said. "We had to play a lot of young guys at times last year and they're all back. Hopefully that will translate when games start."

The Rams' opener March 29 at St. Charles was postponed.

Softball coach readyfor second season

Second-year softball coach Brian Anderson also hopes a year of experience in the program will lead to a turnaround.

Last season, the Rams finished 6-18 overall, losing to London 9-6 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.

"Having a full offseason really helps," said Anderson, who was hired in November 2012. "I had no summer, no fall (before last season)."

The top returnee is sophomore Brooklyn Rayburn (2B/SS), who hit .391 and led the team with 24 RBI last season. She had seven doubles, two triples and two home runs.

Senior Madison Pharo is expected to replace 2013 graduate Danielle Farnlacher as the team's top pitcher. Last season, Pharo was 3-11 with a 7.82 ERA and 32 strikeouts and 25 walks in 79 2/3 innings.

"I feel really positive about this season," Pharo said.

"We have a lot of young girls, but we have a lot of talent."

Junior Nicole Barber (2B) had 10 RBI last year. Other returning starters are juniors Samantha Day (CF) and Morgan Jones (RF).

Anderson expects freshman Nicole Dye to replace 2013 graduate Delina Farnlacher as the starting catcher.

Other players are sophomores Hannah Fetters (LF), Amanda McGarran (OF), Kenedi Neale (1B) and Rebecca Thomas (1B) and freshmen Mira Daugherty (P/3B), Alaina Klabunde (OF), Rebecca Maxstead (3B/P), Makynzie Myers (C) and Crystal Pope (1B).

Anderson expects Thomas to miss the early part of the season with a back injury.

"Our No. 1 problem is we're very young," Anderson said. "Eleven out of 15 (players) are freshmen and sophomores. We're going to be very young. There's talent, just a little bit rough around the edges and short on experience, but they've been working hard (and) seem to be listening and picking things up. I'm already seeing some improvement."

Whitehall went 1-11 in the MSL-Ohio last season to finish eighth behind champion Lakewood (10-2).

Lakewood, which won three consecutive MSL-Ohio titles, has moved to the Licking County League with Granville, Heath, Licking Valley and Newark Catholic.

Whitehall will compete in the league with Bexley, Grandview, London, Madison Plains, West Jefferson and Worthington Christian.

"Last year, the league was very strong," Anderson said. "Licking Valley won the Division II state championship, Granville was in the Division II final four and neither one of them even won our league championship. Lakewood won the league. This is going to be easier, but not necessarily easy. Everybody is balanced. We're capable of winning any game we go into this year."

The Rams lost five players to graduation, including the Farnlacher twins.

Danielle led the team in hitting (.411) and tied Delina for the team lead in runs (20).

In the circle, Danielle was 3-7 with a 5.11 ERA and 49 strikeouts and 36 walks in 63 innings. Both are playing at Urbana University.

"We want to do better than we did last year," Pharo said.

The Rams' opening doubleheader March 29 at Reynoldsburg was postponed.