Depth will be a key component for the Grandview Heights High School baseball team in its quest for a winning record.

The Bobcats were 10-14 overall last spring, bettering the previous season's 6-19 finish, and fourth-year coach Tyler Fitzgerald hopes that trend continues with experience returning around the diamond.

"We have more depth at each position this year with a lot of sophomore talent that complements our juniors and seniors," said Fitzgerald, whose team tied London for fifth (3-9) in the MSL-Ohio Division last season behind champion Bexley (10-1). "Our non-league record was significantly better than our league record last year and the best way to improve our record is to win more league games. Bexley and (Columbus) Academy graduated a lot of players and West Jefferson left the league (for the Ohio Heritage Conference), so that gives us a better chance."

Two key performers are junior Jake Hollar (OF) and sophomore Joey Bertani (P/1B/3B). Hollar was first-team all-league last spring, hitting a team-high .493 with 14 RBI and 30 runs.

Bertani, who was second-team all-league, batted .348 with 27 RBI and 14 runs. He also was 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA in 19 1/3 innings.

In a season-opening doubleheader March 24 against Utica, the Bobcats lost the first game 10-1 but won the second 6-5 on a three-run home run by Bertani in the bottom of the seventh. He also had a solo homer in the opener.

"We return our top two hitters from last season," Fitzgerald said. "Jake was a consistent hitter for us and got on base, and Joey was our big power bat that drove in runs."

Senior shortstop Luke Sterneker was another top contributor a year ago, batting .296 with 11 RBI and 15 runs. Junior Gavin Van Horn (P/OF; honorable mention all-league) was 6-0 with a 4.39 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.

"Everyone has to step up and play their position," Sterneker said. "You have to make sacrifices for the team. If we play together as a team we'll be a pretty good team."

Fitzgerald likes Van Horn to pitch in relief, bolstering a starting rotation that features Bertani, senior Cam Richards and Sterneker.

"Van Horn comes out of the bullpen throwing hard for us and shuts down other teams," said Fitzgerald, whose team opens league play Monday, April 2, at Worthington Christian. "We're pretty deep in starting pitching. Cam and Luke are seniors, and we'll get a lot of innings out of Joey."

Richards also will play in the outfield along with Hollar, Van Horn and sophomore Glenn Cribbs.

"I have to say our depth is a strength," Richards said. "The amount of kids that we have that can play multiple positions is ridiculous. The entire outfield could play the infield and we have a lot of pitching depth."

Isaac Smith is the final senior for the Bobcats. He will see time at first base.

"We have a lot of new talent on varsity and that will help us push forward," Smith said. "Our juniors and sophomores showed a lot of potential last year, but it was hard for them to get varsity time with so many seniors and juniors. Now they get their opportunity to show what they have to offer."

Junior Cody Cook is back at catcher and will be spelled by junior Kameron Carpenter and sophomore Trey Cook, who is Cody's brother.

Junior Sam Freeman and sophomore Sam Amurgis will play second base with third being manned by Bertani, sophomore Luke Berlin and junior Jon Vetter, a transfer from Watterson.

Rounding out the roster are juniors Pete Dunkle (P) and Liam O'Connor (INF), sophomores Alex Sterneker (OF) and Josh Voltolini (1B) and freshmen Paul Hatem (OF), Enzio Panzera (INF), Seth Walters (OF) and Jake Zimmerman (P/OF).

"We have good young kids, but they still have to prove themselves," Fitzgerald said. "The biggest jump from j.v. to varsity is the quality of the pitching. Players who had success at j.v. level will have to stay focused and have a good approach at the plate with quality at-bats."

Softball team needs to build confidence

The softball team returns its outfield but needs to replace its infield after going 6-16 overall last season and finishing sixth (1-9) in the MSL-Ohio behind co-champions West Jefferson and Worthington Christian (both 8-2).

Back in the outfield are senior Kayleigh Grindley (LF) and sophomores Jenna Richards (CF) and Taylor Fultz (RF).

"This team has never played together as a group, and losing an entire infield really changes the way your team jells," second-year coach Tori Lynch said. "They have a lot of talent, but they are young. The big thing is really trusting in their abilities. I think because they are so young they don't trust themselves just yet. They just need to get through that barrier."

The Bobcats have three pitchers in seniors Jayla Coplan and Megan Roberts and sophomore Claire Bower (honorable mention all-league), while senior Carolyn LaPrete (second-team all-league) returns at catcher.

"I would like to have three pitchers, but it's all about consistency," Lynch said. "The speed for both Roberts and Coplan has looked really, really good, but it's just a matter of being able to adjust if something isn't working and being able to get out of bad situations. Claire Bower showed an ability to adjust last year."

In a scrimmage March 23 against Dublin Jerome, Bower started in the circle with Coplan at first base and Roberts at second. Sophomores Leila Meyer (SS) and Marissa Tose (3B) rounded out the infield.

Juniors Lizzy Fitzpatrick (OF) and Chrissy Harker-Knight (1B/P) and freshman Emma Murphy (2B/SS) round out the roster.

The Bobcats open Monday, April 2, with a league game at Worthington Christian. That starts a stretch of 12 games in 11 days, including contests April 7 and 8 in the Ohio Invitational at Firestone Stadium in Akron, the home of the state tournament.

"I wanted them to go (there) early in the season because it's something they need to see and an experience they need to have so that it can become a goal for them," Lynch said. "I'm not expecting this team to go to state, but I want them to know what is possible if they work hard enough."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 24 -- vs. Utica (DH)

March 26 -- vs. Franklin Heights

March 29 -- Aurora (Ill.) Central Catholic and Sedalia (Mo.) Smith-Cotton at Harrison (Tenn.) Chattanooga Central

March 30 -- at Harrison (Tenn.) Chattanooga Central

March 31 -- Signal Mountain (Tenn.) at Harrison (Tenn.) Chattanooga Central

*April 2 -- at Worthington Christian

*April 4 -- vs. Worthington Christian

April 5 -- vs. Eastmoor Academy

April 6 -- vs. Centennial

April 7 -- at Grove City Christian (DH)

*April 9 -- vs. Bexley

April 10 -- at Westland

*April 11 -- at Bexley

April 12 -- at Madison Plains

*April 16 -- vs. Whitehall

*April 18 -- at Whitehall

April 21 -- at Columbus West (DH)

*April 23 -- at Columbus Academy

April 24 -- vs. Briggs

*April 25 -- vs. Columbus Academy

*April 30 -- at London

May 1 -- vs. Ready

*May 2 -- vs. London

SOFTBALL

*April 2 -- at Worthington Christian

April 3 -- vs. Canal Winchester

*April 4 -- vs. Worthington Christian

April 5 -- vs. Whetstone

April 6 -- vs. Briggs

April 7 -- Atwater Waterloo and Medina in Ohio Invitational at Firestone Stadium in Akron

April 8 -- Medina Highland in Ohio Invitational at Firestone Stadium in Akron

*April 9 -- vs. Bexley

April 10 -- vs. Fredericktown

*April 11 -- at Bexley

April 12 -- at Buckeye Valley

April 14 -- at Watkins Memorial with Reynoldsburg

*April 16 -- vs. Whitehall

*April 18 -- at Whitehall

April 19 -- vs. Centerburg

April 20 -- at Hartley

April 23 -- vs. Marion Pleasant

April 25 -- at Fairbanks

April 27 -- vs. Patriot Prep

April 28 -- at Sparta Highland (DH)

*April 30 -- at London

May 1 -- at Watterson

*May 2 -- vs. London

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights boys tennis and track & field teams:

BOYS TENNIS

*April 3 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian

April 4 -- At Jonathan Alder

TRACK & FIELD

April 4 -- Worthington Christian Quad

*League contest