Worthington Christian High School baseball coach Tim Kraynak has found it difficult to temper his enthusiasm this spring.
Whether it's the crop of young talent or the returning veterans, Kraynak believes the potential is there for big things over the coming months and years.
The Warriors, who went 13-9 last season, opened April 1 against Shekinah Christian.
"This is one of the most talented teams in my 10 years as coach," Kraynak said. "I'm kind of excited about it. We're going to have 11 on varsity, and two are freshmen."
The top returnee is junior pitcher Casey Hamrick, who went 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts a year ago and, according to Kraynak, has added muscle since last season.
Senior Caleb Penney, who was 2-1 with a 3.25 ERA in seven games last year, should see time at third base and second base in addition to being a key starting pitcher. Senior Frankie Myers will be a starting pitcher and outfielder after hitting .355 with 12 RBI and going 2-3 with a 4.39 ERA in nine games on the mound.
Senior Clayton Siders pitched in six games in relief and will see time on the mound as well as at shortstop.
Freshman Brian Fields, sophomore Jordan Nishizaki and junior Kyle Nowak are others who will pitch.
When they're not pitching, Nowak will be in the outfield and Fields will be at first base.
Freshman Scott Hevel will play second base and sophomore Alex Sanders will catch.
Seniors Caleb Foreman and Jordan Rugg will play the outfield.
The Warriors received the fifth seed for the Division IV district tournament last season but lost to second-seeded Tree of Life 6-0 in a second-round game. They opened the postseason by beating Gahanna Christian 16-1.
Worthington Christian lost J.C. Ackerman, Zach Ackerman, Trevor England, Keaton Lovas and Alec Motter to graduation. Zach Ackerman started the tournament loss and went 4-2 with a 3.59 ERA. Motter batted .422 with 18 RBI in 15 games, J.C. Ackerman hit a team-best .460 in 17 games and England hit .338.
"Casey Hamrick has got some savvy and is a great competitor," Kraynak said. "I'm excited to see what kind of a season he can have. Alex Sanders is a stud who caught all of last year and did a great job. He'll be one of the top catchers in central Ohio over the next couple years. I'm excited."
Softball team ready to take next step
After not having enough players to compete in 2011, the softball team returned last season.
The Warriors defeated Independence 12-2 and Grove City Christian 4-2 on the way to a 2-13 finish. They lost to Gahanna Christian 16-3 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament.
With a senior class led by Caylan DeLucia and Kelsey Morgan, Worthington Christian is hoping to improve on that finish this spring.
The Warriors opened April 1 at Liberty Union.
"We have great leadership and we have some incoming freshmen that will definitely help us out," second-year coach Stephanie Smith said. "We're definitely a step ahead of where we were last year."
DeLucia pitched some as a freshman but hit .350 and made second-team all-district while playing catcher last spring. In late February, she signed to play for Huntington University in Indiana.
Morgan is a shortstop who Smith said has hopes of playing collegiately.
Freshman Katie McIntosh will pitch, as will senior Alyssa Belkofer, who was last year's No. 1 starter.
Also starting in the infield should be sophomores Raechel Morrow (3B) and Kathryn Ryan (1B). Junior Kayla Welch, sophomore Lauren Osborn, freshmen Erin Becker and Alisia Rucker and Belkofer all could see time in the outfield.
Worthington Christian lost Liz Akin (CF), Sam Dorgan (OF), Carey Karnemaat (OF) and Caroline Simms (1B) to graduation.