Senior Jacob Bosiokovic has been the face of the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team for several years.

Senior Jacob Bosiokovic has been the face of the Delaware Hayes High School baseball team for several years.

Any discussion about the Pacers tends to start with the Ohio State recruit who was named the state Division I Player of Year last season as well as the Ohio Pukka Headwear Player of the Year, which is awarded to the top player regardless of division.

Bosiokovic batted .500 (38-for-76) last season with 36 runs and 32 RBI. He had eight doubles, one triple and seven home runs for a .908 slugging percentage. His on-base percentage was .596, and he was 26-for-27 in stolen-base attempts.

While it might be difficult to replicate those numbers this season, eighth-year coach Mike Yinger said he expects Bosiokovic to be a more dominant leader.

"Jacob consistently improves all aspects (of his game)," Yinger said. "The biggest item he brings this year is his baseball awareness. This season he is taking control of situations and making sure everyone is on the same page."

With eight seniors back and nine starters returning, the Pacers will look to improve on last season when they finished 12-12 overall after losing to fourth-seeded Westerville Central 7-3 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The Pacers beat Walnut Ridge 28-2 in the first round.

Delaware was 6-7 in the OCC-Capital Division to place fifth behind champion New Albany (11-3), Olentangy Orange (9-5), Mount Vernon and Watkins Memorial (both 8-5). Big Walnut and Hilliard Bradley both were 6-8 and Franklin Heights was 0-13.

"Our team is well balanced this season," said Yinger, whose squad opened March 24 at home against Buckeye Valley. "We have four very solid senior pitchers who all have seen significant time on the mound the last four seasons. Jake Wright, Tyler Miller, Aaron Heber and Jacob Bosiokovic will all be asked to throw strikes and keep the ball down."

Wright (5-0, 3.76 ERA) was second-team all-league last season, and Miller (2-2, 2.18 ERA) was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district after also batting .304 with 14 runs.

When not pitching, Bosiokovic will play shortstop, Wright will be in the outfield and Miller will be in the infield. Heber also plays first base.

Rounding out the senior class are Tyler Kidd (1B), Ethan Nichol (OF), Austin Terry (OF) and Kenton Ulmer (OF). Ulmer (.304, 19 runs, 14 RBI) was honorable mention all-league last season.

Also returning are juniors Alex Hohe (OF), Alex Rafeld (C) and Justin Vanhoesen (OF/P), as well as sophomores Colin Reed (3B), Jake South (INF), Greg Suber (3B) and Conner Ulmer (INF). Freshman Noble Moore (1B) rounds out the roster.

"We returned so many players because we only had four seniors last year," Yinger said. "Our defense returns all starters. However, like any year, the start of the season does not reflect the end. We have at least two at every position we feel are capable of doing great things for us. This is a great year for depth and attitude."

The versatility and depth have made a projected starting lineup difficult for Yinger.

"To crack our lineup this season will be a task within itself," Yinger said. "Every day we are finding new possibilities, and it is making for an exciting spring. With this great weather I would imagine everybody in the state is way ahead of schedule. So there should be some really good baseball."

The softball team returns six starters, including a sophomore battery of pitcher Mikayla Cooper and catcher Kaitlyn Woerner.

Junior Alaina Manor is the most experienced of the group. She started at third base last season but likely will play shortstop.

Other starters back include sophomores Lindsey Blair (2B), Chandler Fields (designated player) and Rebekah Hire (3B). Hire is moving from right field.

The Pacers finished 19-7 overall last season and reached a Division I district final before losing to second-seeded Gahanna 7-6. Delaware, seeded eighth for the district tournament, beat Reynoldsburg 10-0 in the first round, 12th-seeded Westerville Central 2-0 in the second round and fifth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 4-2 in a semifinal.

Delaware went 14-0 in the OCC-Capital to win its first league title since 2000 ahead of Bradley (11-3), Orange (8-6), Mount Vernon and Big Walnut (both 7-7), New Albany (5-9), Watkins Memorial (3-11) and Franklin Heights (1-13).

"We're definitely younger," said third-year coach Mark Thomas, whose team opens Tuesday, March 27, at home against Olentangy Liberty. "We lost four seniors and have just two seniors this year. But our goals remain the same. We want to repeat as (OCC-Capital) champions and we want to win a district championship.

"We've got a target on our backs this year and we know that Orange and New Albany are coming after us in the league. We've got to be prepared every time we take the field."

Last season, Cooper was 17-5 with a 1.52 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 134 innings. She also batted .526 with 36 runs and 37 RBI. She was 20-for-20 in stolen-base attempts and had 13 doubles, six triples and six home runs for a 1.013 slugging percentage.

Cooper was first-team all-league and Woerner (.376, 23 runs, 20 RBI) was honorable mention.

Hire hit .356 with 13 runs and 15 RBI, and Fields hit .285 with 20 runs and 12 RBI.

Junior Phoebe Lewis gives the Pacers another pitching option. When she is in the circle, Cooper will play shortstop with Manor at third base and Hire at second.

The Pacers lost defense up the middle in shortstop Cindy Bowman and center fielder Kalene Schmidt, who were 2011 graduates. Schmidt batted .608 with 35 runs from the leadoff spot and was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league. Bowman (.425, 22 runs, 18 RBI) was second-team all-league, and fellow graduate Carly Shaw (LF; .413, 21 RBI) was honorable mention all-league.

The seniors on the roster are Amber Arthur and Cassy Castle, who are competing to start in right field. Junior Abbey Frey, who played at Hilliard Davidson last season, is expected to replace Schmidt in center field, with freshman Jordan Osborne expected to start in left field.

Junior Hannah Tucky will play first base and junior Kortney Reed will be a utility player.

The boys volleyball team has only two returnees from last year's squad that finished 8-13 overall after losing to fourth-seeded Westerville North 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-19 in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.

However, three others with varsity experience who did not play last season have returned as seniors.

Senior middle hitter/outside hitter Alex Carpenter (6-foot-6) and junior setter/right-side hitter Dalton Burke are the returnees for first-year coach Josh Lee.

Jeremy Hunt (5-10, outside hitter/middle hitter), Jeremy Morrell (libero/defensive specialist) and Trei Price (6-1, middle hitter) are back after missing their junior seasons.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Walter Neace (6-4, middle hitter) and Sam Spivey (setter), as well as juniors Tommy Gibbs and Nathan Nelson.

"We're going with a 6-2 offense with Spivey and Burke as the setters," said Lee, whose team opened with a quad meet March 24 at Dublin Scioto. "Carpenter, Burke and Hunt will be our leaders and most likely our captains. Nelson and Gibbs will be our utility guys. We're real young in experience, so I think we'll have some rough patches early and hit our stride in midseason.

"We've got some athletes and once they learn the skills and the game, they'll come around and help us surprise some teams. I've seen some glimpses."

Last season, the Pacers finished fifth at 2-8 in the OCC-Capital, behind champion Mount Vernon (10-0), Gahanna (7-3), Pickerington North (6-4) and Hilliard Bradley (5-5) and ahead of Pickerington Central (0-10).

Carpenter was honorable mention all-league.

"The goal for us this year is to develop to the point where we play the game the way it's supposed to be played," Lee said. "We want to build a solid foundation with our communication, skills and knowledge."