The Worthington Kilbourne High School softball team is looking to make a memorable debut in the OCC-Cardinal Division this season.
The Wolves, who moved from the OCC-Central as part of OCC realignment last summer, return eight starters from last season, when they finished 16-6 overall and placed third in the OCC-Central.
Kilbourne, which beat New Albany 2-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last year before losing to 12th-seeded Canal Winchester 2-1 in the second round, opened April 2 against Watkins Memorial and begins league play Monday, April 8, at Westerville South.
"In 2011, we had a record of 19-6 and were the fifth seed in the district tournament and set the program record for most wins in a single season," fourth-year coach John Warinner said. "Last year, we were 16-6 and received the seventh seed.
"With nine returning letterwinners and eight starters, expectations are high once again. Our team goals include competing for the OCC-Cardinal championship and to win Kilbourne's first-ever district championship."
Among the key returnees are senior Sarah Adams (P/3B) and junior Manda Cash (P/1B). Last year, Adams was 8-4 with a 1.28 ERA and 137 strikeouts and batted .289 with two home runs and was named first-team all-district and first-team all-league. Cash, a left-hander, was 8-2 with a 1.27 ERA and 130 strikeouts and hit .386 with 27 runs and 13 RBI and made honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league.
"The strength of our team should be our experience and our pitching staff," Warinner said.
Freshman Sydney Warinner (P/3B) also is expected to see time in the circle.
Also among those expected to be key contributors are seniors Marisa Guyton (C), Carissa Van Dyke (RF) and Cierra Van Dyke (SS), juniors Miranda Adams (designated player/1B), Emily Rodriguez (CF) and Kristen Rossi (2B) and sophomore Grayson Brown (LF/SS).
Last season, Miranda Adams hit .286, Guyton batted .268 with 21 RBI and Rodriguez batted .282.
Kilbourne went 9-4 in the OCC-Central last year to finish behind Central Crossing (13-0) and Thomas Worthington (11-2) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (6-8), Dublin Coffman (4-9), Hilliard Darby (4-10), Upper Arlington (4-10) and Westland (2-12). Not all of the league games were completed.
Darby also moved to the OCC-Cardinal, which also includes Hilliard Bradley, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.
Cardinals coach likes her team's depth
In terms of her team's lineup, second-year Thomas coach Lindsay Shepherd will have multiple options this season.
The Cardinals, who open Saturday, April 6, at home against Delaware and West Jefferson, finished 20-4 overall and placed second in the OCC-Central last season. Seeded fifth in the Division I district tournament, Thomas had a first-round bye and defeated Westerville South 5-2 in the second round before losing to Teays Valley 4-0 in a semifinal.
"I really like our pitching, but truthfully the strength of this team will be the depth and flexibility we have," Shepherd said. "I think everyone on this team, one through 13, will contribute."
Junior Anna Marie Boue and her sister, freshman Sarah Boue, are expected to handle the bulk of the pitching duties, but senior Megan McLaughlin (P/1B) also could see time in the circle. Last year, McLaughlin, a left-hander, batted .390 and was second-team all-league.
In the circle a year ago, Anna Marie Boue, McLaughlin and 2012 graduate Zoe Myers had a combined ERA of 0.98.
Other key returnees include seniors Rachel Garris (CF) and Abby Zofchak (C) and sophomore Carson Baymiller (utility). Last year, Zofchak hit .408 with four home runs and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Baymiller, who hit .400, and Garris, who batted .384, both made honorable mention all-league.
Also on the team are seniors Tori Chirdon (utility), Katie Holman (OF), Clare Janoski (OF) and Sarah Samuels (OF) and juniors Sammy Bullock (INF), Kylie Hislope (INF) and Fatima Said (SS).
"Anna Marie Boue can play any position and bat anywhere in the order and be successful," Shepherd said. "She won't complain and do anything we ask her to do. Carson Baymiller batted .400 as a freshman and I think she'll have a great year at leadoff. Garris will hit second and she loves the game. She controls the entire outfield and she has a strong arm. She's a competitor."
Thomas opens OCC-Central play Monday, April 8, at Upper Arlington. Also in the league this season are Central Crossing, Coffman, Davidson, Westland and newcomers Marysville and Olentangy Liberty.