Coach Andrew Orlins will need a young pitching staff to mature quickly if the Bexley High School baseball team is to win a fifth consecutive MSL-Ohio Division title.

The Lions lost their starting pitchers from last season to graduation after they finished 20-5 overall and went 10-1 in the league.

Adding to the pitching woes is the loss of junior Connor Moriarty, who had the most experience on the mound among returnees. He went 2-0 with two saves and a 2.74 ERA in 15 1/3 innings last spring but will miss the season with a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder.

"We basically lost 10 (players to graduation) and seven started all the time, and our four (pitching) starters were (graduating) seniors," said Orlins, who is in his third season. "We have a lot to replace."

Junior catcher Matt Shapiro and junior outfielder Ryan Callahan are the two returning starters.

Callahan was honorable mention all-district in Division II and first-team all-league after leading Bexley in batting average (.429), triples (4) and stolen bases (15). He also had 21 RBI and scored 31 runs.

Shapiro, who was first-team all-league, batted .365 with 11 RBI and 14 runs.

"We're pretty young so there's a lot of growth that needs to be made," Callahan said. "We're pretty confident and we have good chemistry. There's a lot of positivity and hopefulness for a good season."

Callahan likely will be one of the starting pitchers along with senior Wally Jacobs and juniors Vinny Pernotto and Anthony Welsh.

"It's been interesting to work with a bunch of guys that I haven't caught before," Shapiro said of working with the inexperienced staff. "Building good relationships with them is important. I need to let them know that they can throw any pitch in any count and I can block or receive anything from them."

Orlins said senior Michael Johnson, junior Carter McClellan and freshman Tommy Bloebaum will rotate at first base with junior Tyler Lehman at second and Pernotto and Welsh alternating at shortstop. Pernotto and freshman Timmy Old will be at third.

Callahan will be in center field with Jacobs in left and juniors Isaiah Dewry, Isaac Halter and Jacob Wright in right.

Sophomore Whitaker Noble is another pitcher.

"Our attitude is great, and they are very, very coachable and want to learn every day," Orlins said. "They love baseball and want to get better."

The Lions opened by defeating Sparta (Tennessee) White County 12-2 in five innings and Shelbyville (Tennessee) Central 10-9 in a doubleheader March 24 before losing to Groveport 13-0 in five innings March 26.

They lost to North Union 8-3 on March 31 before beginning MSL-Ohio play April 2 against Whitehall.

"We need to work on our confidence because we are so young," Callahan said. "We need to have the confidence that our teammates will be there to back us up and that they will be there for us when we make mistakes."

Softball team faces uncertainty

The softball team will be learning on the fly this spring as it looks to replace eight players lost to graduation and two more who are out for the season with injury in senior Natalie Grace (P/1B) and junior Miracle Williams (P/1B).

Williams recently had shoulder surgery.

Those losses are magnified because the Lions lost their primary pitcher from last season in Lauren Woodford. The 2017 graduate was MSL-Ohio Player of the Year, going 14-6 and batting .481 with 18 RBI and 21 runs.

"It looks like we'll have only 11 players, but we have some good kids who will bust their butts out there," said ninth-year coach Rick Wemlinger, whose team finished 17-10 overall last season. "They know I won't quit on them, and they won't quit on me."

Seniors Grace Hunley (1B/P; .440, 23 RBI, 21 runs) and Nicole Hoyer (3B; .375, 17 RBI, 23 runs) were first-team all-league last spring. The Lions also return their middle infield in senior shortstop Katie Grunewald and junior second baseman Kaia Woodford.

Junior Savannah Schwallie is back in the outfield, where she will be joined by sophomore Camille Manring and freshman Liv Wilson.

"We're hoping that we catch the ball well and we hit the ball well," Wemlinger said. "We have been hitting a lot, going twice a week since September, and that should pay off for us."

Hunley and freshman Claire Melville will rotate between pitcher and first base. Freshman Aly Cox is the catcher.

Rounding out the roster are senior Haley Bernstein (2B/designated player) and junior Sophie Yates (1B/3B/OF).

The Lions opened with a pair of five-inning victories, defeating Madison Plains 13-2 on March 26 and Whetstone 11-1 on March 27.

"Losing eight seniors is tough to bounce back from, but we have looked pretty decent in the first two games," Wemlinger said. "We had 16 hits in the opener against Madison Plains and had 10 hits the next night against Whetstone. We'll probably see better pitching in the future, but it's good to get that early confidence."

Last season, the Lions were third (7-3) in the MSL-Ohio behind co-champions West Jefferson and Worthington Christian (both 8-2). They opened league play April 2 against Whitehall.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 24 – At Sparta (Tenn.) White County with Shelbyville (Tenn.) Central

March 26 – at Groveport

March 31 – vs. North Union

*April 2 – at Whitehall

*April 4 – vs. Whitehall

April 5 – vs. Pickerington Central

April 7 – at Johnstown

*April 9 – at Grandview

*April 11 – vs. Grandview

April 12 – vs. Canal Winchester

April 14 – at Zanesville

*April 16 – vs. Columbus Academy

*April 18 – at Columbus Academy

April 19 – vs. Centennial

*April 23 – vs. London

*April 25 – at London

April 26 – at Watterson

April 28 – at Chillicothe Zane Trace

*April 30 – vs. Worthington Christian

*May 2 – at Worthington Christian

May 3 – at Westerville North

May 5 – vs. Dublin Scioto

SOFTBALL

March 26 – vs. Madison Plains

March 27 – vs. Whetstone

*April 2 – at Whitehall

*April 4 – vs. Whitehall

April 5 – vs. Hamilton Township

April 7 – vs. Fairfield Christian and Thomas Worthington

*April 9 – at Grandview

*April 11 – vs. Grandview

April 12 – vs. Centennial

April 14 – vs. Franklin Heights (DH)

April 17 – vs. Licking Valley

April 20 – at New Albany

*April 23 – vs. London

*April 25 – at London

April 26 – at Hamilton Township

April 28 – vs. Canal Winchester and Chillicothe Southeastern

*April 30 – vs. Worthington Christian

*May 2 – at Worthington Christian

May 4 – vs. Centerburg

May 5 – at Westerville South (DH)

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:

BOYS LACROSSE

April 11 – Home vs. Watterson

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 5 – Home vs. Columbus Academy

April 7 – Home vs. Big Walnut

*April 10 – At Watterson

BOYS TENNIS

*April 5 – At London

April 9 – Home vs. Upper Arlington

April 11 – Home vs. Westerville North

TRACK & FIELD

April 7 – Fairfield Union Falcon Invitational

March 29 – At Whitehall

*League contest