The Canal Winchester High School baseball team knows repeating last year's success won't be easy.

The Canal Winchester High School baseball team knows repeating last year's success won't be easy.

After going 14-12 in the regular season, the Indians hit a hot streak that took them all the way to the Division II state final, where they lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 6-0 to finish 22-13 overall. They were fourth at 9-4 in the MSL-Buckeye Division behind champion Teays Valley (12-2).

"The challenge for us this year is to keep the kids hungry and motivated," said second-year coach Jason Vest, whose team opens April 6 at Lancaster. "We've used (last season's playoff run) more as a teaching tool for things we did well and things we didn't do well. It was a lot of fun but there were things we didn't do well during the playoff run so we've used it as a teaching tool both in a positive and a negative light."

Most of the starters return. The Indians will be led by seniors Tyler Steube (3B) and Wes White (P/SS) and junior Drew Dosch (P/SS/2B). White and Dosch will serve as the top two pitchers and will rotate at shortstop. Steube not only is one of the better third basemen in the area, he will be counted on to produce runs as he'll hit third or fourth in the lineup.

Also on the roster are seniors Aaron Barber (1B/3B), Drew Black (P), Grant Dosch (utility), Matt Romanowski (LF/P), Mike Romanowski (1B/OF/P), Cory Spelman (DH/C) and Michael Young (P/utility). Barber missed last year with a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee. Spelman will take over at catcher for graduate Tyler Griffith and Grant Dosch will back him up.

Canal Winchester will continue to emphasize the small-ball philosophy that served it so well in the postseason last year. During the tournament run the Indians came from behind in four consecutive games to advance to the state final.

"That's kind of our philosophy and what we're built for," Vest said. "We did add some strength from the weight room and we return Aaron Barber, who's a bigger, stronger kid, so I expect to hit the ball a little more. But we'll still be able to do (small ball)."

An area of concern, at least for the time being, is pitching depth. Dosch and White are good starters but there is little experience behind them. Matt Romanowski got some starts in league play last season. Black will be called upon to start after spending last season as a starter for the junior varsity.

Canal Winchester will take aim at an MSL-Buckeye title this season but will face some stiff competition from Teays Valley and Circleville.

"We're going to have expectations from people on the outside after what we did last year but it's really got to be one step at a time," White said. "So I think the first thing we'll concentrate on is the league. We want to better our performance in the league from last year."