Even without the eight players he lost to graduation, Whetstone High School baseball coach Tim Broskie believes he has a plethora of talent to work with this spring.

Even without the eight players he lost to graduation, Whetstone High School baseball coach Tim Broskie believes he has a plethora of talent to work with this spring.

Having a battery with the kind of track record that junior pitcher Ross Homan and senior catcher Travis Buckalew have is the biggest reason behind that feeling.

Buckalew was first-team all-City League-North Division last season and will play for Division II Ohio Valley University in Vienna, W.Va. Homan emerged as the team's No. 1 starter last season and made second-team all-league.

In addition, the Braves have a mix of players in the sophomore and junior classes who should contribute.

Whetstone opened March 28 with an 18-4 win over Columbus East and played March 29 against Hilliard Darby and March 30 against Linden-McKinley. The Braves play April 1 at Brookhaven, April 4 against visiting Centennial and April 6 at Northland.

"I think our depth is really big," said Broskie, who earned his 300th career victory last season and is in his 18th season as coach. "We've got so many talented players. We have a bunch of guys that can play a bunch of different positions. We've not got any guys who are really worried about individual stats."

Leo Cleary-Foeller (1B) is another senior returnee, while also in the class are Jacob Hayhurst (P/OF) and Ryan Thompson (OF).

Other key returnees include juniors Zak Davidson (P/OF), David Brown (P/INF), Maurice McPherson (RF/2B/P), Matt Barnum (2B) and Kyle Radabaugh (3B/P).

Sophomores Kevin Ellison (P/1B), Steven Foster (1B), Jonathon Griebel (SS), Ozzie McMahon (C/P), Kyle Oldaker (3B/LF/P), Daylon Smothers (CF), Bobby Thompson (P/1B) and Cameron Thompson (C/P) also should contribute.

Last season, Whetstone finished 18-10 overall and second in the City-North at 12-2, behind Centennial (14-0). Northland (10-4), Beechcroft (8-6) and Brookhaven (6-8) rounded out the top five. The Braves lost to Centennial 6-2 and 5-4, with Homan starting both games.

Whetstone beat Walnut Ridge 5-3 in the first round of the Division I district tournament before losing to Olentangy Liberty 16-0 in the second round.

"We've got some real tough scrimmages and a really tough schedule," Broskie said. "A lot of the teams in our league are supposed to be a lot better. We've got a good group of guys to work with that worked hard all winter."

•Coming off its third City championship in four seasons, the softball team again believes it will be a conference title contender.

Senior Haley Buskirk is back at pitcher after going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 141 innings last year. She also hit .321 with 17 RBI a year ago as the Braves went 18-8 overall and 14-0 in the City-North.

Centennial was second in the City-North at 12-2, followed by Northland (10-4), Beechcroft (8-6), Brookhaven (5-9), Mifflin (4-10), Linden-McKinley (3-11) and Columbus East (0-14).

The Braves open April 1 at Brookhaven and play a doubleheader April 2 at Westland, April 4 at home against Centennial and April 6 at Northland.

"Our expectations are high," said coach Larry Peck, whose team beat Briggs 3-2 in 10 innings to capture its second consecutive City title. "We're looking to win the City League-North, and we also have a pretty good non-league schedule against suburban schools. The one area we were disappointed in last year was that we didn't play very well in the (district) tournament."

Whetstone, which lost to Westerville North 14-1 in the first round of the postseason, returns its second-leading hitter from last season in senior third baseman Katie Fuller, who was honorable mention all-district and hit .430 with 23 RBI, 16 stolen bases and had just one error in 52 chances.

Junior Symiah Campbell will split time between right field and second base after hitting .326 with 14 RBI last year. Junior Sarah Buckalew is back at catcher after finishing with 12 RBI.

Sophomore Lauren Peck returns at shortstop and senior Erin Krebs will split time with Campbell at second base and right field.

Junior Katie Dozer will be the backup third baseman and see significant action as the designated player after finishing with 18 RBI a year ago.

Freshman Liz Jackson is expected to take over at first base for graduate Melissa Tewart-Darwin, who had a .994 fielding percentage and 14 RBI a year ago.

Also looking to contribute are junior Libby Adelsberger (CF/LF), sophomores Audrey Bollas (P), Briana Clemens (P/1B) and Sophie Marquand (CF/LF) and freshman Maddie O'Malley (P).

In addition to Tewart-Darwin, Caroline Block-Wilkins (LF), Alice Turner (2B) and Kasey Althouse (CF) were lost to graduation.

Althouse hit .603 with 21 RBI, 20 stolen bases and just one strikeout in 68 at-bats last season. Althouse, Buskirk and Fuller made first-team all-City, Tewart-Darwin and Buckalew made the second team and Block-Wilkins and Peck were honorable mention.

"It generally comes down to us and Centennial, but until you start playing teams, it's going to be more important how we play," coach Peck said. "We could be pretty good. They're working hard, and if they keep it up, it's going to be interesting. The one area I'm really not sure about is our hitting. Defensively, we're going to be pretty strong and our pitching is going to be pretty good."

•The boys tennis team has 20 athletes out, including several with significant experience, as it looks to take a step forward in the City league.

Each of the City's 12 tennis programs competed in one division last season, with the Braves finishing fifth at 7-4, behind Centennial (11-0), Columbus West (10-1), Briggs (9-2) and Northland (8-3). Brookhaven (6-5) and Eastmoor (5-6) rounded out the top seven.

Seniors Stefan Koltun and Matthew Brew, who played first and second singles, respectively, last season, likely will be in the top two positions. They teamed up at the Division I sectional tournament to win one doubles match.

Senior Daniel Renick also is back after playing several singles matches last year. Renick and juniors Mohumud Sharif, Harley Tripp and James Wellman all could see time at third singles as well as doubles. Others who could compete in doubles include seniors Pete Pajor and Eugenio Bonello and junior Christian Williams.

Bonello teamed with graduate Casey Johnson to lose in the first round of the sectional a year ago. Sharif and Tripp lost first-round singles matches at sectional.

With such a large turnout, coach Bucky Walters said he will use several of his less-experienced players against some City opponents.

The Braves opened March 28 with a 12-0 win over East and play April 1 at Briggs, April 4 at home against Northland and April 6 at Marion-Franklin.

"We'll be in the hunt (in the City League)," Walters said. "We're not the favorite, but if we play well and get a few bounces, we should be up there."

•The boys volleyball team opens March 31 at Licking Heights.