Jason Vest doesn't expect the Canal Winchester High School baseball team to return to the glory days of the late 2000s overnight.

Jason Vest doesn't expect the Canal Winchester High School baseball team to return to the glory days of the late 2000s overnight.

Vest is working with four returning starters and seven first-time varsity players in the first year of his second stint as Indians coach.

The first stint was very successful, as Vest compiled a 71-24 record from 2008-10 with a Division II state runner-up finish in his first season and a regional championship in his second. He stepped down after his third season and spent the past few seasons as an assistant coach at Bloom-Carroll, which won the Division II state title in 2014.

"I had a lot of fun the last couple of years, but I'm excited about being back at Canal Winchester," said Vest, who returned to the Indians to replace former assistant Jay Bartos, who went 66-68 in five seasons. "This was going to be a transitional season anyway, no matter who the coach would be. We graduated a decent number of kids and are bringing a lot of new guys along. But we have some talented kids, and I expect us to be competitive all year."

Canal Winchester opened March 26 with a doubleheader sweep of Liberty Union at Beavers Field, winning both games 10-1.

Last season, the Indians finished 10-19 overall and 3-11 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, placing eighth behind co-champions Hilliard Darby and Westerville Central (both 12-2). They lost to Teays Valley 4-1 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

Canal Winchester returns its top pitcher in Je'len Olbrantz, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior who went 2-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings last year, as well as its best hitter in junior Austin Trace (C/3B/P), who batted .378 with 27 RBI and 14 runs scored.

"Je'len had some success we can build on," Vest said. "He's a large, intimidating kid with a good presence on the mound."

Third-year starter Colin Sotlar, who will be Canal Winchester's everyday left fielder, according to Vest, also highlights a senior class rounded out by Anthony Amburgey (utility), Logan Miller (P/2B), Luke Osborn (OF) and Evan Young (1B).

Junior Luke Williamson, who batted .308 with 12 RBI and 14 runs scored last year, is a third-year starter who will play outfield and perhaps be the team's top left-handed pitcher. He is expected to hit second in the batting order behind junior third baseman Dalton Cencebaugh and ahead of Trace, whom Vest called the team's best hitter.

Other expected contributors include juniors Ryan Glauner (P), Trey Hartman (C/P/3B), Bennett Niceswanger (P/SS/2B), Alex Reed (SS) and Nick Tiell (CF) and sophomores Drake Burris (P/2B/3B), Justin Cox (P/3B/OF), Kavian McMillan (2B) and Sam Purdon (P).

Canal Winchester begins league play Monday, April 4, at home against Westerville North.

"The top 10 or 12 players in this league are back, and then you have Westerville Central, which was the state runner-up last year," Vest said. "But I expect our guys to play hard, and I expect us to be competitive right there with everybody else."

Caswell, Faulkner lead softball returnees

The softball team has returned four starters from last year's team that went 14-12 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal, including two of its top four hitters and two fourth-year starters.

Senior catcher Bailee Faulk-ner, an Urbana University signee who played third base as a freshman and has caught ever since, led the Indians in batting average (.529), doubles (17) and RBI (37) last year. Senior second baseman Callie Caswell, a fourth-year starter, hit .398 last year with 12 stolen bases and 29 runs scored.

Seniors Chaya Duncan (CF) and Katie Hinkle (P) are the other key returnees for the Indians, who opened March 28 at Liberty Union.

"Those four seniors have a lot of experience, so I think we can be competitive," 16th-year coach Randy Hinton said. "We didn't hit well in our first couple scrimmages. I want the younger girls to be more confident when they get to the plate. That's a big part of things offensively.

"We've got four girls who played j.v. last year and are starting this year. That will change and they will get more comfortable."

Hinkle went 4-5 in the circle last year and will be Canal Winchester's primary pitcher, with sophomore Alexis Dean also throwing some innings.

"(Hinkle) has to have good location. She throws several different pitches, but she won't overpower people," Hinton said. "She can do a good job. She probably won't mow down nine people in a row, but she is effective."

Duncan missed the second half of last season because of an injury to her left shoulder that required surgery.

Rounding out the roster are juniors Emily Bryant (1B), Corri Etter (OF), Mackenzie Hamilton (SS) and Lauren Zaluski (OF) and sophomores Kaylee Dunkle (2B), Allie Saulnier (3B) and Brooklyn Wolfe (1B).

Canal Winchester begins OCC-Cardinal play Monday, April 4, at home against Westerville South. The Indians placed fourth in the league last year behind co-champions Central and Hilliard Bradley (both 12-2).

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 26 -- Liberty Union at Beavers Field (DH)

March 29 -- vs. Hamilton Township

March 30 -- vs. Bexley

April 1 -- Lancaster at Beavers Field

April 2 -- vs. Fisher Catholic (DH)

*April 4 -- vs. Westerville North

April 5 -- Watterson at V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe

*April 6 -- at Westerville South

April 7 -- vs. Hartley

*April 8 -- at Westerville Central

*April 11 -- vs. Westerville Central

*April 13 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

*April 15 -- at Hilliard Darby

April 16 -- vs. Groveport

*April 18 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*April 20 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 21 -- at Dublin Jerome

*April 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

*April 27 -- vs. Westerville North

*April 29 -- at Westerville North

April 30 -- at Zanesville (DH)

*May 2 -- at Dublin Scioto

*May 4 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

May 6 -- at Bloom-Carroll

SOFTBALL

March 28 -- at Liberty Union

March 30 -- at Lancaster

March 31 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

April 1 -- vs. Teays Valley

*April 4 -- vs. Westerville South

April 5 -- at Hartley

*April 6 -- at Westerville Central

*April 8 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

April 9 -- at Cardington with Watt-erson

*April 11 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*April 13 -- at Dublin Jerome

April 14 -- vs. Johnstown

*April 15 -- vs. Westerville North

April 16 -- at New Albany with Groveport

*April 18 -- at Dublin Scioto

*April 19 -- vs. Westerville Central

*April 20 -- at Westerville South

*April 25 -- at Hilliard Darby

*April 27 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 29 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

April 30 -- vs. Jonathan Alder and Olentangy Orange

*May 2 -- at Westerville North

*May 4 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

May 7 -- at Lakewood

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys tennis and track & field teams:

BOYS TENNIS

*March 31 -- At Dublin Scioto

April 4 -- Home vs. Logan Elm

*April 5 -- At Westerville South

TRACK & FIELD

April 2 -- Newark Invitational

April 5 -- Home vs. Grove City and Hamilton Township

*League contest