The Thomas Worthington High School softball team has a new coach for the first time since 2003, but that hardly means things are going to be much different.

The Thomas Worthington High School softball team has a new coach for the first time since 2003, but that hardly means things are going to be much different.

First-year coach Tom Gianas was an assistant to Joe Abraham the last six seasons and has made it a point to keep the atmosphere as close as possible to the way it had been.

"It's been working," said Gianas, whose team opens Monday at Delaware and Wednesday at Upper Arlington. "So we've tried to keep the same flow. I've been with these seniors a long time, basically grew up with them."

The Cardinals return six seniors from last year's team, which was 23-7 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Central Division. Most of the infield returns, including seniors Gillian McCarthy (1B), Miriam Said (2B) and Paige Stewart (SS). New to the infield are seniors Kayla McPeek, who will move from left field to catcher, and sophomore Kim Morgason, who moves to third base from center field.

Morgason, a third-year starter, was second-team all-state last year. She started at catcher for Central Crossing as a freshman.

"We've always worked very well together," said Said, who played on the Buckeye Heat last summer with McCarthy, Stewart and senior pitcher Jen Horton. "We've played together for so long."

Said, who has the program's single-season record for steals with 41 in 2007, will bat leadoff.

Horton will become the main pitcher after serving as a backup the last two seasons. Horton was 7-0 last year with a 2.26 ERA. At practice March 19, she acknowledged she learned a lot about pitching by sitting and watching in the dugout, but it can't compare with the chance of being the team's top pitcher.

"I'm really excited," Horton said. "It's my time to be No. 1. This is my chance to show what I can do."

Also on the team are seniors Alexis Allen (OF/3B) and Sarah Stimpert (OF), sophomores Paige Conant (OF/IF), Sally Nichols (P) and Kathleen Reid (OF) and freshmen Kenzi Hannum (OF), Kim Hoerauf (OF) and Zoe Myers (P).

"It's actually been an easy transition," McCarthy said. "(Abraham and Gianas) have the same coaching style, which has been really nice since we have all these seniors."

The Cardinals were second in the OCC-Central last year behind Marysville (10-0) and ahead of Central Crossing (4-6), Pickerington North (4-6), Delaware (4-6) and Westerville Central (2-8).

The OCC-Central this season will include Kilbourne, which means the two teams won't play each other during the Worthington Classic on May 2, but the event will take place with both teams competing.

The league also includes Central Crossing, Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Upper Arlington and Westland.

Last season ended with a 4-0 loss to Gahanna in a district semifinal. The Cardinals defeated Central 4-3 in the second round after taking a first-round bye.

At a glance

•Coach: Stephen Gussler, 12th season

•Opener: Wednesday vs. Franklin Heights

•Key players: Frankie Aledia, Sam Bohon, Eric Erb, Jordan Peters, Eric Petry and Dominic Porretta