First-year Worthington Kilbourne High School baseball coach Dustin Woods thinks his team is going to surprise some opponents this season.
"We're going to be solid offensively, but we're going to have to battle with some pitching depth because we don't have a lot of guys with a lot of varsity innings," said Woods, whose team was 4-1 before opening OCC-Cardinal Division play April 3 against Dublin Jerome. "But I am pleased with our overall depth because we've got 15 or 16 guys who can really play the game."
Woods replaced Mike Yinger as coach during the offseason. A 2013 Ohio State graduate, he coached Fort Recovery in 2016 after coaching the previous two years at Maria Stein Marion Local.
Yinger stepped down after two seasons to become the athletics director at Buckeye Valley. Kilbourne finished 14-12 overall last season after going 15-12 in 2016.
The Wolves have eight returnees in seniors Chase Brown (C), Brayden Carter (2B/P), Noah Reed (SS/P), Cole Wajda (DH/1B), Tyler Ward (CF) and Parker Wereb (LF/P) and juniors Kyler Archual (3B/P) and Grayson Timms (OF).
"There are a lot of possible combinations we will use in the infield, depending who is pitching, but we'd like to keep Noah at shortstop when he's not pitching," Woods said. "It's a new position for him, so there's a bit of a learning curve. But he's athletic and very capable and has taken big steps already. It's fun to watch.
"Brayden is another fun guy to watch because he refuses to be beaten. He's comfortable with two strikes or no strikes. He just battles. I'd take a team full of Brayden Carters. He eats up challenges and is the epitome of a ballplayer."
Carter batted .382 with 20 RBI last season and has committed to play for the University of Findlay, while Ward batted .406 with 16 stolen bases and 22 runs scored. Brown hit .291, followed by Reed (.279) and Wajda (.276).
Ward was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district and Carter was second-team all-league.
"Tyler can really play and is a quiet leader who gets the work done," Woods said. "He also is very competitive and refuses to lose. He is getting feelers about playing in college.
"Cole will play for Lakeland Junior College next year and Chase is a wall behind the plate who could play at the next level if he wants."
Woods expects Archual's performance on the mound this season to open some eyes.
"Kyler throws 86-87 mph with a good breaking ball, splitter and great movement with his two-seam (fastball)," Woods said. "He's developing a changeup. He's a guy that by the end of the season will be getting good looks from colleges."
Expected to follow Archual in the pitching rotation are Reed, senior Deane Elliott, junior Jack Mesaros and Wereb. Possible relievers are Carter, senior Kaleb Parker, junior Nick Streets and sophomore Mitch Fisher.
Senior Dillon Pearon is playing at first base and Wajda is the designated hitter.
Wereb, Parker and Timms are vying for playing time in left field, while Fisher, Streets, Mesaros and senior Tyler Wood are battling for time in right field.
The Wolves opened the season March 24, beating Westerville South 14-4 and Fort Recovery 4-1. They then defeated Johnstown 7-4 on March 26 before splitting a pair of games March 31, losing to New Albany 15-0 and beating Olmsted Falls 11-4.
Kilbourne went 5-7 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to tie Dublin Scioto for fourth behind champion Hilliard Darby (11-1).
Softball team seeks consistency in play
The softball team is hoping to find consistency in its performance this season.
The Wolves returned home from their spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with a 3-2 record. They then opened OCC-Cardinal play April 2 with a 4-3 loss to visiting Jerome.
"We've had some ups and downs already, so our goal getting back here is to become more consistent and hopefully the weather will cooperate to give us that opportunity," third-year coach Mike North said. "I like this team because it is a mix of veterans and youth. The young girls can learn from the older girls and overcome mistakes and we won't be losing an entire team of seniors. It's better for the future when you don't have all seniors playing."
The Wolves finished 8-16 overall last season and went 2-10 in the OCC-Cardinal to place sixth behind champion Hilliard Bradley (12-0). They have five returnees in seniors Destiny Hilliard (LF), Alyssa Jozefowicz (3B) and Kasey Trout (P/SS) and juniors Casey Knuth (1B/P) and Lora Snodgrass (RF/P).
Trout was first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season.
"I expect Kasey Trout to be our leading hitter again and she should get help from Jozefowicz and Snodgrass," North said. "We'll need more than that and I think we have three freshmen who definitely have that potential. But again, consistency will be the key."
Rounding out the team are seniors Myckenzie Gatchel (OF) and Kylie McDaniel (SS), juniors Melina Calhoun (OF) and Maddie Mullen (LF), sophomore Olivia Judy (C) and freshmen Ava Hayes (CF), Morgan Beals (C), Claire Ogden (2B) and Kendall Timms (P/1B).
Boys volleyball team returns four starters
The boys volleyball team is looking for further development under second-year coach Meladee Hopkins.
Last season, the Wolves finished 11-14 overall and went 4-8 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fifth behind champion Darby (12-0).
Kilbourne finished 4-21 in 2016.
"I think that we are going to be competitive," said Hopkins, whose team opened April 3 with a league match at Darby. "We only lost two (players to graduation) and we won 11 matches with only three players having any previous varsity experience, so we have a strong returning base with some young kids ready to step up and contribute.
"I am pleased with the interest at our school. We have three (high school) teams again this season and actually had to make cuts because so many boys came out. I am excited about the direction the program is going."
The Wolves return four starters in seniors Levi Smith (setter/opposite hitter) and Lucas Hershberger (outside hitter), junior Tanner Smith (middle hitter) and sophomore Jimmy Sauder (outside hitter). Hershberger will have a late start to the season because of a wrist injury.
Also on the team are seniors Quentin Bartram (defensive specialist) and Kyle Holman (back row), juniors Evan Fisher (opposite hitter) and Liam Pierce (outside hitter) and sophomores Braydon Biehn (outside hitter), Joe Dargenio (middle hitter) and Ethan Nestingen (setter).
March 24 -- vs. Fort Recovery and Westerville South
March 26 -- vs. Johnstown
March 28 -- vs. Medina Buckeye
March 31 -- at New Albany with Olmsted Falls
*April 3 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 4 -- at Dublin Jerome
April 5 -- at Westerville Central
*April 6 -- at Hilliard Darby
*April 9 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 11 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
April 12 -- at St. Charles
*April 14 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 16 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 18 -- at Dublin Scioto
April 19 -- vs. Westerville North
*April 20 -- vs. Delaware
*April 23 -- at Delaware
April 24 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 26 -- vs. Whitehall
*April 30 -- vs. Thomas
*May 2 -- at Thomas
May 4 -- at Dresden Tri-Valley
March 26 -- Pikeville (Ky.) at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 27 -- Staten Island (N.Y.) Moore Catholic and Drexel Hill (Pa.) Monsignor Bonner at Ripken Experience
March 29 -- Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis at Ripken Experience
March 30 -- Burgettstown (Pa.) Area at Ripken Experience
*April 2 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 4 -- at Hilliard Darby
*April 5 -- at Hilliard Bradley
April 7 -- vs. Franklin Heights and Centennial
*April 9 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 11 -- vs. Delaware
April 12 -- vs. Whitehall
April 14 -- vs. Grove City
*April 16 -- vs. Thomas
*April 18 -- at Dublin Jerome
*April 19 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
April 21 -- vs. Licking Heights and Piqua
*April 23 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*April 25 -- at Dublin Scioto
*April 26 -- at Delaware
April 28 -- vs. Whetstone (DH)
*May 2 -- at Thomas
May 3 -- vs. Westland
May 4 -- at DeSales
*April 3 -- at Hilliard Darby
*April 5 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 9 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 10 -- vs. Delaware
April 16 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 17 -- vs. Thomas
April 18 -- vs. DeSales
*April 19 -- at Dublin Jerome
*April 23 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 24 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*April 26 -- at Dublin Scioto
*April 30 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*May 1 -- at Delaware
May 3 -- at Briggs
*May 8 -- at Thomas
May 9 -- vs. Licking Heights
May 11 -- at Pickerington North
May 17 -- vs. Watterson
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 5 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 5 -- Home vs. Darby
*April 5 -- At Darby
TRACK & FIELD
April 7 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut
April 10 -- Home vs. Central Crossing and Hilliard Davidson