Ryan Longbrake expects his second season as coach of the Dublin Scioto High School baseball team to be better than the first.

Last season, the Irish went 9-16 overall and 5-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Worthington Kilbourne for fifth, behind champion Hilliard Darby (11-1) and lost to Newark 1-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

"(The players) understand the expectations," Longbrake said. "I also have a little bit better understanding of what I want and how I want to implement things. It's going to be a lot smoother."

Scioto opened the season by going 1-3 at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during spring break. The Irish defeated Olentangy 6-5 on March 28 but lost to Hampshire (Illinois) Burlington Central 2-1 in 10 innings on March 27, Marysville 11-5 on March 29 and Lansdale (Pennsylvania) North Penn 10-2 on March 30.

"It was a great trip," Longbrake said. "We didn't play our best baseball. We started the week very strong but did not end it how we wanted to. We'll learn from it and gear up for league play."

Among the returnees is senior catcher Matt Magno, who led the team in hitting (.384) and RBI (18) last season and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.

"This is my third year playing (varsity) and I'm ready to get back in the swing of things," Magno said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm really excited for what all these guys can do. We're a lot closer as a unit than last year and I'm really excited for what the team can do this year."

Other returning starters are seniors Nick Hopper (1B) and Louis Lipthratt (SS/P) and juniors Aidan Lao (2B/P/C) and Kyron Rogers (P/SS/OF).

Also back are seniors Jeremy Erickson (1B) and Payne Reed (1B).

Rounding out the team are senior Will Thompson (P), juniors Braytton Krock (P/OF), Cayson Pfeiffer (C/OF) and Andrew Whetstone (P/1B) and sophomores Nash Densel (P/OF), Mauricio Fernandez (3B/1B/P), Marty Neuhardt (1B/P/OF) and Chad Ray (3B/P/OF).

Fernandez is a move-in from the Dominican Republic.

"He's going to be a hell of a player," Longbrake said.

Scioto begins OCC-Cardinal play Friday, April 6, at home against Delaware.

"I think we'll be right there in the mix," Longbrake said. "I'm excited for our guys. Our goal is to win the league. We think we can compete with anyone."

Longbrake will face his alma mater, Jerome, on April 30 and May 2 to close league play.

"(Jerome coach Chris Huesman) and I are always talking," Longbrake said. "I always bounce ideas off of him since I played for him. He's been a huge help in getting me started here. Jerome is going to be pretty good."

Softball team returns key contributors

The softball team returns several key players from last season, when it finished 13-10 overall and 9-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

The Irish opened March 28 with a 7-3 win over Hilliard Davidson and defeated Upper Arlington 10-0 in six innings April 2. A doubleheader against Watterson on March 24 and a game at Big Walnut on March 28 were postponed because of bad weather.

Scioto was 2-0 before playing Eastmoor Academy on April 4.

"I like the makeup of the team," seventh-year coach Larry Howell said. "We're young (but) the team is playing with confidence."

Among the returnees is senior pitcher Madison Heasley, who hit .351 and led the team in RBI with 28 last season. In the circle, she was 8-8 with a 4.11 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 46 walks in 93 2/3 innings.

She was the winning pitcher in the victory over UA and helped her cause with a three-run home run in a seven-run first inning.

"Last year, we had one of our best years that we've had in a while, but we're hoping to do even better this year," said Heasley, who was second-team all-league last year. "I know my teammates are going to back me up when I'm not pitching my best."

Other key returnees include sophomore shortstop Lauren Erickson, who batted .386, had a team-high 29 runs scored and was second-team all-league last season, and senior center fielder Imani McCullough, who hit .359 and was special mention all-league.

"Lauren is a stud," Howell said. "It's great to have Imani back. With her speed at leadoff, when she gets on, it's usually at least a double and she makes things happen. She plays a nice outfield for us."

Also back are senior Haley Cole (1B), juniors Katie Bush (2B/C) and Emily Dinan (1B/3B) and sophomores Lucia Adams (OF/1B), Gretchen Baker (OF), Maddy Baughman (OF), Sarah Booth (P/3B), Makayla Jauregui (2B/C) and Lauren Perry (2B).

Junior Haley Gibson (P/utility), a transfer from Olentangy Liberty, should contribute after having to sit out the first 11 games because of the OHSAA transfer rule.

Rounding out the team are seniors Kristina Lokteva (OF) and Kianna Saadat (2B) and freshmen Bel Crawford (1B), Lacey Henry (OF) and Alexis Hoover (2B/SS).

Scioto begins OCC-Cardinal play Thursday, April 5, at home against Darby. The Irish finished second in the league last year behind Hilliard Bradley (12-0).

"They're always going to be good at Bradley," Howell said. "Darby has been solid the last couple of years. It's Mike North's second year (as coach) at Kilbourne, so I expect them to be improved. Jerome came on strong last year. Delaware is always solid and Thomas is rebuilding."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 27 -- Hampshire (Ill.) Burlington Central at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

March 28 -- Olentangy at Ripken Experience

March 29 -- Marysville at Ripken Experience

March 30 -- Lansdale (Pa.) North Penn at Ripken Experience

April 3 -- at Hilliard Davidson

April 4 -- vs. Mount Vernon

April 6 -- at Upper Arlington

*April 6 -- vs. Delaware

April 7 -- at Coffman

*April 9 -- at Delaware

*April 11 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

April 12 -- vs. Ready

*April 13 -- at Hilliard Darby

*April 16 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 18 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 20 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

April 21 -- at Bloom-Carroll

*April 23 -- at Thomas Worthington

April 24 -- at St. Charles

*April 25 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*April 27 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

April 28 -- vs. Westerville Central and Westerville North

*April 30 -- vs. Jerome

*May 2 -- at Jerome

May 5 -- at Bexley

SOFTBALL

March 24 -- vs. Watterson (DH)

March 26 -- at Hilliard Davidson

March 28 -- at Big Walnut

April 2 -- at Upper Arlington

April 4 -- at Eastmoor Academy

*April 5 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

April 7 -- at Buckeye Valley

*April 9 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 11 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

*April 12 -- at Hilliard Bradley

April 14 -- vs. London

*April 16 -- vs. Jerome

April 17 -- vs. Whetstone

April 18 -- at West Jefferson

*April 19 -- at Delaware

*April 23 -- at Hilliard Darby

*April 25 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*April 26 -- at Thomas Worthington

April 28 -- at Fredericktown

*April 30 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*May 2 -- vs. Delaware

May 5 -- at *Jerome with Coffman in Battle of Dublin

*League contest

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

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 5 -- At Hilliard Bradley

*April 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 5 -- Home vs. Bradley

April 7 -- at Liberty Township Lakota East and at West Chester Lakota West

*April 10 -- at Darby

BOYS TENNIS

*April 5 -- Home vs. Bradley

*April 10 -- At Worthington Kilbourne

TRACK & FIELD

April 7 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North

April 11 -- Home vs. Coffman

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

*April 5 -- Home vs. Darby

*April 9 -- At Kilbourne

*April 10 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

*League contest