After finishing with losing records in 2015 and 2016, the Grove City Christian School baseball team turned things around last year, going 11-10 overall.

The Eagles are looking to continue that upswing this spring.

Grove City Christian was 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the MSL-Cardinal Division before playing Wellington on April 3.

"We've finally grown up, literally (and) physically," said coach A.J. McCampbell, who is in his fifth season. "In those two losing seasons, one year they were freshmen and the next year they were sophomores, so it's always tough when you're starting a majority of underclassmen at the varsity level. Last year, starting a majority of juniors and one senior (in Dane Long), you could see the physical difference."

The Eagles opened with a 14-8 win over Zanesville Rosecrans on March 24 in a league game and lost to West Jefferson 5-1 on March 26.

Wellington and Rosecrans are newcomers in the MSL-Cardinal.

"We've added some teams, so we have an expanded league schedule," McCampbell said. "I don't know what to expect. Fisher Catholic and Berne Union are always good. ... The goals are still the same for us, which are win a league title and make a district run and hopefully win a district title, but it's one step at a time for us right now."

Last season, the Eagles went 6-4 in the MSL-Cardinal to finish third behind champion Berne Union (9-1).

The top returnee is senior Luke Spegal (P/INF), who was named second-team all-league last season. He's expected to help lead a pitching staff that lost Long to graduation.

Long batted .322 and was first-team all-league.

"We have 11 to 12 players who actually play the game," Spegal said. "We're very deep this year compared to past years. We plan on being above .500. I'm very confident in this team."

Other key returnees are seniors Kendrick Beard (1B/P) and Alex Moore (C/OF) and junior Gavin Robbins (P/INF/C). Beard and Moore were second-team all-league last season, and Robbins was honorable mention all-league.

Robbins is expected to be a key starting pitcher.

Also back are seniors Cristian Gilkerson (OF) and Caleb Sullivan (OF/2B/P), juniors Ethan Metsker (3B) and Samuel Woods (1B/P) and sophomores Jake Spegal (INF/P), Aaron Wickham (OF/P) and Andrew Wilson (C/1B).

Other players are senior Trent Reed (INF), junior Tom Suhayda (1B), sophomore Cameron Downton (OF) and freshmen Jacob Bapst (INF), Josiah Bever (OF) and Joseph Phillips (INF).

"We can't play down to our competition," Luke Spegal said. "We have to execute the little things. In pitching, we have to throw strikes. We have to make the little plays and have confidence. We have all the talent we need. If we can just execute the things we need to and not get down on ourselves then we should have a very good season."

Softball coach feeling optimistic

Second-year softball coach Elysse Rathbone is confident her team can improve on last season's 2-13 finish.

"I really like the girls, and I like the school," she said. "The team looks really good. I have high hopes for this year. We had some growing pains last year just trying to figure out my coaching style and what they're used to, but the girls are a little more prepared as to what I expect and what I can expect of them."

The Eagles were scheduled to open April 3 against Wellington in an MSL-Cardinal contest.

Junior Megan McGrath (utility/C) was second-team all-league last season, and senior Alissa Collins (P) was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are junior Cheyanne Pierce (3B) and sophomores Odette Espinosa (OF), Emma Howard (1B) and Damaris Vanecko (2B/OF). Howard missed most of last season with an ACL injury.

"Emma is a big asset to have back on the team," Rathbone said. "It was a big loss for us last year."

Other players are senior Martina Baruffaldi (LF), sophomores Jessalyn Glovitch (CF) and Sophia Hoyt (2B) and freshmen Jamie Dozier (RF) and Taylor Ison (SS).

Baruffaldi, who is an exchange student from Italy, "catches on pretty quick and pays attention," Rathbone said. "She shows up at practice and has a good work ethic. She's going to be really good for us this year."

Grove City Christian went 2-8 in the league last season to finish fifth behind champion Berne Union (10-0).

"The season should be a little more competitive for us this year," Rathbone said. "I expect us to play pretty competitively with Wellington. We should line up pretty well with Millersport. I definitely have better hopes for the league this year than we did last year."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BASEBALL

*March 24 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans

March 26 -- at West Jefferson

*April 3 -- vs. Wellington

*April 6 -- at Fairfield Christian

April 7 -- vs. Grandview (DH)

*April 9 -- vs. Berne Union

*April 10 -- at Harvest Prep

*April 13 -- at Fisher Catholic

April 14 -- at Westland (DH)

*April 16 -- vs. Millersport

*April 17 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans

April 19 -- at Madison Plains

*April 20 -- at Wellington

April 21 -- at Mansfield Christian (DH)

*April 23 -- vs. Fairfield Christian

*April 24 -- at Berne Union

*April 27 -- vs. Harvest Prep

*April 30 -- vs. Fisher Catholic

*May 3 -- at Millersport

SOFTBALL

*April 3 -vs. Wellington

*April 6 -- at Fairfield Christian

April 7 -- vs. Granville Christian

*April 9 -- vs. Berne Union

*April 10 -- at Harvest Prep

April 12 -- vs. Patriot Prep

*April 13 -- at Fisher Catholic

April 14 -- at Shekinah Christian (DH)

*April 16 -- vs. Millersport

*April 20 -- at Wellington

April 21 -- vs. Delaware Christian and Eastmoor Academy

*April 23 -- vs. Fairfield Christian

*April 24 -- at Berne Union

April 26 -- at Briggs

*April 27 -- vs. Harvest Prep

*April 30 -- vs. Fisher Catholic

*May 3 -- at Millersport

*League contest

Below is the coming schedule for the Grove City Christian track & field team:

April 6 -- Williamsport Westfall Invitational

April 10 -- At Berne Union with Fairfield Christian