After playing below its expectations last spring, the Westerville Central High School baseball team is looking for a bounce-back season.

The Warhawks finished 14-14 overall to just miss earning their fourth consecutive winning season.

Coach Jeff Keifer believes his 10th season is shaping up well.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors. We have 11 seniors and the juniors have meshed well with those guys. The chemistry has been excellent. Our work ethic has been as good as I’ve seen here in recent memory. We have a lot of eager guys (who want) to have a successful season.”

Central opened by going 2-4 during a spring-break trip to Florida in late March.

The Warhawks were scheduled to open OCC-Buckeye Division play April 2 at Westerville North, but the game was postponed because of bad weather and will be played Thursday, April 5. The teams also played April 4 at Central.

The Warhawks’ returnees are led by senior Sean Osborne (P/INF), who batted a team-high .320 last season and was named first-team all-league.

Senior Dan Cellars (3B) batted .315 and was second-team all-league, and junior Camron Hubble (C/P/INF) was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are seniors Matt Beck (OF), Drew Fischer (P/OF), Matt Keifer (2B/P), Jacoby Maze (1B/P), Dax Mickley (OF), J.D. Nickel (C/OF), Noah Ring (P/OF), Michael Sherry (2B) and Allen Smith (OF) and junior Brett Dahman (SS/P/C).

“I like our chemistry all around,” said Matt Keifer, the coach’s son. “We have a good group of guys – a lot of pieces that if we come together we can play really well. … We’re happy with our versatility. We can do a lot. We’re not too strong in one thing, but we’re really talented in a lot of things.”

Other players are juniors Tyler Ashbaugh (3B/P), Niko George (P/1B/OF), Zach Glorioso (C/OF), Nate Lawrence (OF/P) and Jake Yaussy (INF/P) and sophomore Jace Jarvis (OF).

Last season, Central went 8-7 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish third behind champion Olentangy (12-3).

“We want to stay competitive,” coach Keifer said. “I don’t think anyone is going to run away with the league. They never do. We kind of beat up on each other and just want to be in striking range at the end of the season.”

The Warhawks also are hoping to advance past the second round of the Division I district tournament after losing to Zanesville 6-0 in that round last year. They have played in a district final in five of the last seven years.

“Our team is pretty mature and we have a good, solid batting lineup,” Osborne said. “We have all the potential in the world. … Last year was pretty disappointing. We were out in the (second) round of the (tournament). I would set a pretty solid goal to win district and hopefully get further than that.”

Softball team seeks another league title

Despite losing one of the best players in program history, the expectations remain the same for the softball team.

The Warhawks are seeking their fifth consecutive OCC title after finishing first in the OCC-Buckeye last season at 10-0.

“That’s the goal. The girls are looking to get that five in a row,” said coach Brian Wamsley, who is in his ninth season. “I told them that should always be your goal, win the OCC. That’s where we start and then we try to improve and get better and hit our peak right around tournament time.”

Shortstop Megan McMenemy capped a stellar four-year prep career last spring by being named league Player of the Year and first-team all-state and all-district after batting a team-high .547 with nine home runs and 29 RBI. She is now playing at Ohio State.

“She’s a tough one to replace, but we have some good, young talent,” Wamsley said. “I’m kind of happy to see what we have coming up. We have three freshmen who are playing varsity who are probably going to get substantial playing time.”

Central opened by going 2-4 in the Grand Strand Softball Classic during a spring-break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in late March.

The Warhawks open league play Wednesday, April 11, at North.

A key returnee is junior outfielder Avrey Schumacher, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season after batting .410 with a team-high 34 RBI.

Junior Sydney Stepp (P/1B) was 7-5 with a 1.47 ERA, 68 strikeouts and 38 walks in 85 2/3 innings. She was first-team all-league and “worked hard in the offseason,” Wamsley said.

Sophomore Cami Compson (OF) batted .300 and was second-team all-league, sophomore Danielle Ingram (1B/OF) was special mention all-league and senior Hope Miller (C) was honorable mention all-league.

“I have so much confidence in our team,” Miller said. “We lost great players, but we also have a lot of great players on the team this year, so I don’t really think it impacts us.”

Also back are juniors Kylie Collins (SS/2B) and Sara Bentz (SS/2B/OF).

Other players are seniors Nikki Hart (2B) and Grace Musilli (OF), juniors Lily Linke (3B/C) and Tiffany Zuelzke (OF), sophomore Rachel Fields (P) and freshmen Hanna Hunt (3B/OF), Emily O’Dee (SS) and Lexi Recinella (1B/P/OF).

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 25 – vs. Uniontown Green in Fort Walton, Fla.

March 26 – at Fort Walton (Fla.) Choctawhatchee

March 27 – vs. Smithville (Tenn.) DeKalb County in Navarre, Fla.

March 28 – at Niceville (Fla.)

March 30 – vs. Cincinnati West Clermont in Fort Walton, Fla.; at Navarre (Fla.)

*April 4 – vs. Westerville North

*April 5 – at Westerville North

April 5 – vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 6 – vs. Olentangy Orange

April 7 – at Thomas Worthington

*April 9 – at Olentangy Orange

April 10 – vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 11 – vs. Olentangy

*April 13 – at Olentangy

*April 16 – at Olentangy Liberty

*April 18 – vs. Olentangy Liberty

*April 20 – vs. Westerville South

April 21 – at Watterson

*April 23 – at Westerville South

*April 25 – at Westerville North

*April 27 – vs. Olentangy Orange

April 28 – at Dublin Scioto

April 28 – at Dublin Jerome

*April 30 – vs. Olentangy

*May 2 – at Olentangy Liberty

*May 4 – vs. Westerville South

May 5 – vs. Lakewood (DH)

SOFTBALL

March 26 – Erie (Pa.) McDowell in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

March 27 – Geneseo (Ill.) in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach

March 28 – Grove City and Norcross (Ga.) James Madison in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach

March 29 – McLean (Va.) in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach

March 30 – Gray (Tenn.) Daniel Boone in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach

April 6 – at Upper Arlington

*April 11 – at Westerville North

*April 12 – vs. Olentangy Orange

*April 16 – vs. Olentangy

April 17 – at Delaware

*April 18 – at Olentangy Liberty

*April 19 – vs. Westerville South

April 20 – at Lancaster

*April 23 – vs. Westerville North

*April 25 – at Olentangy Orange

*April 26 – at Olentangy

April 28 – vs. Berne Union (DH)

*April 30 – vs. Olentangy Liberty

May 1 – vs. New Albany

*May 2 – at Westerville South

May 4 – at Hilliard Darby

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams:

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 5 – Home vs. Olentangy Orange

April 7 – Home vs. Columbus Academy

*April 10 – At Olentangy

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 5 – At Orange

*April 10 – Home vs. Olentangy

BOYS TENNIS

*April 5 – At Westerville North

April 6 – At Gahanna

*April 10 – Home vs. Orange

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

*April 5 – Home vs. Orange

*April 10 – Home vs. Olentangy

*League contest