The DeSales High School baseball team's first two games were at opposite ends of the spectrum, which did not necessarily surprise 11th-year coach Tom Neubert.
He just hopes to see one result more than the other.
The Stallions opened March 24 with a 16-5 loss to visiting Hilliard Bradley and bounced back two days later with a 12-0 win at Marion Pleasant. DeSales was 2-2 overall before playing Shepherdsville (Kentucky) North Bullitt on April 3 at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The Stallions committed seven errors against Bradley.
Although DeSales returns just two starters from last year's Division II regional runner-up team, they happen to be two of the program's top players in senior Greg Gilbert (P/SS/OF) and junior Joey Velazquez (P/OF). Two other players who started or lettered also return in seniors Jonathan Mager (3B/P) and Nick Renken (C/P/OF).
Mager went 4-for-4 with six RBI against Pleasant.
Gilbert had a walk-off three-run home run April 2 in an 11-10 win over Morris County (New Jersey) Morris Knolls in Myrtle Beach.
"We're young, and we're going to make a lot of young mistakes," Neubert said. "The guys might be tentative at this point, not quite confident in what they want to do. Varsity is just at a different level than what some of them saw on (junior varsity). There are mistakes players make when they're not polished. We've had a few years where we've had to replace the majority of our team, and once the newer guys get a few weeks under their belt, they're a lot more comfortable."
Last season, the Stallions finished 19-12 overall, losing to Dayton Chaminade-Julienne 4-2 in a Division II regional final, and went 4-4 in the CCL to tie Hartley for third behind co-champions St. Charles and Watterson (both 6-2).
Velazquez, an Ohio State commit, led DeSales in batting average (.461) and RBI (31) and tied Gilbert for the team lead in hits with 41 and became the first sophomore in program history to be named first-team all-state.
Gilbert, a Butler University recruit and second-team all-state honoree a year ago, batted .410 with 16 RBI and was 6-3 on the mound with a 1.10 ERA, 60 strikeouts and two walks in 57 1/3 innings.
Mager saw some varsity time during the final six weeks of last season after 2017 graduate Luke Barber was sidelined by a stress fracture in his back.
"(Mager) will have to have more big days offensively," Neubert said. "We'll rely on him and Nick to drive in a lot of runs."
The Stallions, who have six seniors and seven juniors on their roster, also lost to Big Walnut 8-7 on March 27.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Jansen Bennett (OF), Jaret Burke (OF/P) and Will Cotter (2B/SS/P), juniors Shawn Corkrean (OF/P), Colin Doyle (1B/P/3B), Christian Grube (OF/P), Aaron Kauser (C/P/1B), Michael Pallaci (P) and Thomas Sauer (C/P/3B) and sophomores Nathan Borghese (OF/IF/P) and Owen Faulkner (OF/P).
DeSales begins CCL play Wednesday, April 11, at Watterson.
"Our lineup will be all over the place for a little while. Everybody will have the chance to play," Neubert said. "It will take us a few weeks, longer than most years, to figure some things out."
Outside hitters to lead volleyball team
The boys volleyball team opened with a 25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 25-15 win at Briggs on March 26, but given the youth on his roster, 10th-year coach Andy Feltz thinks the season's tone could be set next week when the Stallions play the first half of their CCL schedule.
DeSales begins pursuit of its fifth consecutive league championship Tuesday, April 10, at home against Watterson and plays at St. Charles the next day. The Stallions and Cardinals shared the league title last year as both teams went 3-1, ahead of Watterson (0-4).
The Stallions return two outside hitters in juniors Zach Clarke, who also was a setter last year, and Eric Nickell as well as seniors Tanner Baldwin (defensive specialist) and Dan Freeman (right-side hitter), but will have to work in a new setter in senior Dominic Julian and several other first-year varsity players.
"We feel pretty solid at outside hitter. We're working out the kinks, but we have a lot of work to do overall," Feltz said. "There is potential, but the big question for us is, how much we can squeeze out of the guys? It's a short season. We have a lot of young guys pushing for playing time.
"We'll see where we go. The first couple CCL matches could be interesting."
DeSales finished 12-8 overall last season, losing 25-22, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22 at Dublin Scioto in a Division II East Region semifinal.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Chandler Dalton (defensive specialist), Will Durbin (middle hitter), Kevin Nguyen (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Zach Stratczar (defensive specialist), Nick Topacia (libero) and Aiden Valentine (middle hitter).
Feltz is hoping the fact that there are 14 days between DeSales' first and second matches works in his team's favor as it prepares to play 15 matches this month.
"We had some time to work on technical stuff in practices and rest up a little bit from all of our (preseason) practices and scrimmages," Feltz said. "St. Charles is very experienced and Watterson is hungry. The big thing for us is we must always get better. We can't afford to have a practice where we don't get better."
Softball team looks for growth
The softball team planned to get some much-needed work in during its trip to Myrtle Beach this week, given that it played only one of its three scheduled games last week because of bad weather.
DeSales, which does not have any seniors on its roster, opened March 26 with a 9-4 home win over Big Walnut. A March 27 road game at Buckeye Valley and a home game the next day against Hilliard Davidson were postponed, and the Stallions made up for that wait by routing Louisville (Kentucky) Valley 20-0 in five innings April 2 in Myrtle Beach.
"We anticipate some good opportunities to improve in both the game as well as build team spirit," 13th-year coach Julie Barber said of the team's annual spring break trip. "We are very young, but they are incredibly coachable and an outstanding group to work with."
Juniors Mikaylee Harmon (1B/P), Kaitlyn Murray (OF), Kyla Payne (SS), Faith Strapp (3B), Aubrey Wilcox (OF) and Hannah Woods (C) and sophomores Jacqui Barber (P) and Sam Kaczmarek (OF) return from last season, when the Stallions finished 11-8 overall and went 4-2 in the CCL to finish second behind Watterson (5-1).
Rounding out the roster are junior Nicole Kurtz (OF), sophomores Megan Husslein (1B/P), Lauren Kemper (3B), Morgan Orzechowski (2B) and Christin Ripke (OF) and freshmen Kendall Gonya (C) and Lauren Mitevski (2B).
DeSales begins CCL play Monday, April 9, at home against Hartley.
The Stallions' youth does not concern Barber, partly because she believes it is offset by the team's chemistry and familiarity.
"This group plays together all summer, they train in the offseason (and) they attend small group lessons throughout the year," Barber said. "They are acclimating to the faster-paced play (of the varsity level), but I anticipate they will catch on quite quickly."
March 24 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
March 26 -- at Marion Pleasant
March 27 -- vs. Big Walnut
March 28 -- at Newark Catholic
April 2 -- Morris County (N.J.) Morris Knolls at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
April 3 -- Brandensburg (Ky.) Meade County and Shepherdsville (Ky.) North Bullitt at Ripken Experience
April 5 -- Ashland (Ky.) Paul G. Blazer at Ripken Experience
April 6 -- Middletown (Ky.) Eastern at Ripken Experience
April 10 -- at Pickerington North
*April 11 -- at Watterson
April 12 -- at Granville
*April 13 -- at Ready
April 14 -- vs. Jonathan Alder
*April 16 -- vs. St. Charles
*April 18 -- vs. Hartley
April 19 -- vs. Gahanna
April 20 -- vs. Sparta Highland
April 21 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 23 -- vs. Watterson
April 24 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 25 -- vs. Ready
*April 27 -- vs. St. Charles
April 28 -- vs. Licking Valley
*April 30 -- at Hartley
May 3 -- at Johnstown
May 4 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
March 26 -- vs. Big Walnut
March 27 -- at Buckeye Valley
March 28 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
April 2 -- Louisville (Ky.) Valley at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
April 3 -- Scottsville (Ky.) Allen County at Ripken Experience
April 5 -- Conway (S.C.) at Ripken Experience
April 6 -- Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph at Ripken Experience
*April 9 -- vs. Hartley
April 10 -- vs. Licking Heights
*April 11 -- at Ready
April 12 -- at Mount Vernon
April 14 -- at Marysville with Olentangy Orange
*April 16 -- at Watterson
April 20 -- at Hilliard Darby
April 21 -- Cardington and Teays Valley at Lancaster Battle for the Cure
*April 23 -- at Hartley
*April 25 -- vs. Ready
April 27-28 -- TBA in Albert C. Prebis Memorial Classic at LaGrange Keystone
*April 30 -- vs. Watterson
May 1 -- vs. Lancaster
May 4 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
May 5 -- at Upper Arlington
March 26 -- at Briggs
*April 10 -- vs. Watterson
*April 11 -- at St. Charles
April 14 -- Spike for Tykes at Hiram College
April 16 -- at Dublin Coffman
April 18 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*April 20 -- at Watterson
April 21 -- at Olentangy Orange
*April 24 -- vs. St. Charles
April 25 -- vs. Northland
April 26 -- vs. Mount Vernon
April 30 -- vs. Westerville North
May 2 -- at Mount Vernon
May 4 -- at Olentangy Liberty
May 7 -- at Upper Arlington
May 9 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
May 10 -- vs. Licking Heights
May 15 -- vs. Whetstone
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 6 -- At Fort Mill (S.C.) Nation Ford
April 7 -- Cumberland (S.C.) Fort Mill at Fort Mill Nation Ford
*April 10 -- At Columbus School for Girls
April 9 -- At Lancaster
*April 10 -- St. Charles at CSG
April 11 -- Bloom-Carroll at Woodward Park
TRACK & FIELD
April 7 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North