Canal Winchester High School boys tennis coach Doug Welsh and his wife, assistant coach Jill Welsh, had no problem staying busy during the Indians' season opener against Lancaster on April 4.

Their responsibilities went beyond giving players tips on such things as shot selection and how to read their opponent.

Video •Canal Winchester girls track athlete Emily Clubb competes in the Stingel Invitational on April 8 at Pickerington North.

Sometimes, the players had to be reminded where to stand and even told the score.

The Welshes acknowledged that is life when five of the nine players on the roster are brand-new to the sport, but they are pleased with the progress they've seen since practice began in early March and won't necessarily measure improvement by wins and losses.

"It's neat to watch kids develop," Doug Welsh said. "There's still a heck of a long way to go, but the fundamentals we're trying to teach, they're showing an improvement and a competitive spirit. That's our goal, just to get them better and keep them going in the right direction with the things we can control."

Juniors Zeke Blanchard and Alex Ugrinov and sophomores Connor Clark and Jacob Noel have returned from last season, when the Indians finished 1-15 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

New to the roster are freshmen Drew Adams, Vinny Caskey, Zane Diehl, Mason Saunders and Caden Sweeney.

Jill Welsh said she, her husband and players not only used word-of-mouth to grow the program, but also visited some classes to increase turnout.

"We teach (the newcomers) pretty much everything," Blanchard said. "We help with their hitting and try to get them to improve every day. They've come so far in one month. They are learning every aspect of the game and getting adjusted."

Caskey said tennis was next on his list of sports to try after he sampled baseball, football, lacrosse and soccer but did not enjoy any of them.

"The hardest things to learn for me were doing a backhand, setting your feet right and serving," Caskey said. "(Doug Welsh) has to remind me to follow through. A few times, I forget to do that and stop mid-swing. Sometimes he has to remind me not to speak negatively about myself. I just have to take everything as it comes."

Welsh replaced Jason Moisey, who coached the Indians for seven seasons.

Welsh was Otterbein University's head track and field coach from 1991-2009 and coached the same sport at Bexley in 2010 and 2011. Most recently, he has served an assistant coach for his wife, who has been Canal Winchester's girls tennis coach the past two seasons.

The Indians were 0-3 overall before their OCC-Capital opener against Groveport on April 11. Canal Winchester lost to Lancaster 5-0 on April 4, fell to Fisher Catholic 3-2 on April 5 and lost to Reynoldsburg 5-0 on April 7. The Indians' originally scheduled league opener April 6 at Big Walnut was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Wednesday, April 19.

According to Welsh, while Clark is expected to continue to play first singles, much of the lineup will remain flexible for the foreseeable future.

"I feel like I could be a great baseline player," Clark said. "My volley needs some work, but with the baseline, I am good. I am doing better serving as well. ...

"The best thing about having more guys is we're giving this team some depth for the next couple of years."

Baseball team starts
fast in league play

Thanks in part to sound pitching, the baseball team hoped to continue an undefeated start in the OCC-Capital when it played Franklin Heights on April 10.

Canal Winchester was 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the league entering its game against the Falcons, with OCC-Capital wins over Big Walnut (1-0 in 12 innings in a game that concluded April 4 and 5-2 in six innings later that day) and Groveport (6-5 on April 5).

Ryan Glauner threw nine perfect innings against the Golden Eagles on April 3, striking out 13, but the game was suspended to the next day because of bad weather. Luke Williamson completed the game, striking out six in three innings.

"That outside fastball was my bread-and-butter for the whole day," Glauner said. "I broke off a few curveballs and a changeup here and there. Everything was just kind of working."

First-year coach Tyler Kuhn lauded his team for its performance in tight games. Each of Canal Winchester's first eight games were decided by three runs or fewer, and the Indians were 2-2 in one-run games.

"We have played a lot of good teams and I feel like that will get us battle-tested," Kuhn said. "We'll know how to win tight games. We've already won some tight games, and that's all I can ask for is for them to play hard to the last out. Right now ... we're finding out a lot about our guys. We are finding out what we can and can't do."

Softball team
seeking consistency

The softball team tried to improve on a 2-5 start when it played Pickerington North on April 10.

Canal Winchester had an up-and-down trip to Orlando, Florida, to start the season, scoring 34 runs in two wins over Bronx (New York) Horace Mann (12-11 in nine innings March 28) and Celebration, Florida (22-7 on March 29). However, the Indians scored only two runs in their three losses, to Palm Coast (Florida) Flagler (8-1 on March 29) and to Merritt Island, Florida (11-1 and 11-0 in a doubleheader March 30).

The Indians lost their first two games back in Ohio on April 8, falling to Ready 11-1 at Olentangy Orange and 15-5 to the host Pioneers.

Canal Winchester was scheduled to begin OCC-Capital play April 12 at Big Walnut.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

BOYS TENNIS

April 4 -- vs. Lancaster

April 5 -- at Fisher Catholic

April 7 -- at Reynoldsburg

*April 11 -- vs. Groveport

April 12 -- at Logan Elm

*April 13 -- vs. Franklin Heights

April 17 -- at Central Crossing

*April 18 -- at New Albany

*April 19 -- at Big Walnut

*April 20 -- vs. Newark

April 24 -- at Teays Valley

April 25 -- at Pickerington Central

April 27 -- at Grandview Heights

May 4 -- vs. Whitehall

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester baseball, softball and track & field teams:

BASEBALL

April 15 -- At Pickerington North (DH)

*April 17 -- At New Albany

*April 19 -- Home vs. New Albany

SOFTBALL

*April 12 -- At Big Walnut

*April 13 -- Home vs. Groveport

April 14 -- At West Jefferson

April 15 -- Home vs. Whitehall (DH)

*April 17 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights

April 18 -- At Johnstown

*April 19 -- At New Albany

TRACK & FIELD

April 15 -- Hank Smith Invitational at Heath

April 18 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg

*League contest