Coach Phil Callaghan knew his Olentangy Orange High School baseball team had talent, but he didn't know how far it would take the Pioneers.

Coach Phil Callaghan knew his Olentangy Orange High School baseball team had talent, but he didn't know how far it would take the Pioneers.

After losing 14 seniors from a team that reached the program's first regional tournament, the Pioneers reloaded and returned to a Division I district final.

They finished 25-4 overall after losing to Gahanna 15-8 on May 22 at Ohio Dominican.

"We had 25 wins this season after having 27 (wins) last season and lost 14 seniors from that team," said Callaghan, who completed his third season. "This year, we won our first OCC title and had a really good season. But Gahanna was an awful tough hurdle to clear. We ran into a buzz saw."

Second-seeded Orange had a first-round bye before defeating 36th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 10-0 in five innings at home May 15 and 11th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley 16-6 in six innings May 20 in a district semifinal at New Albany.

The Pioneers won the OCC-Capital Division at 12-2, ahead of Watkins Memorial (11-3), Olentangy (10-4), Big Walnut (7-7), New Albany (6-8), Mount Vernon (6-8), Delaware (4-10) and Franklin Heights (0-14).

Senior Paul Trick (P/INF) was first-team all-state and all-district and the league's Player of the Year. The Gardner-Webb signee batted .420, scored 25 runs and had 20 RBI. He also was 8-1 with a 0.64 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 13 walks in 54 1/3 innings.

Senior first baseman Brady Harris (.387, 17 runs, 16 RBI, 1 home run) was first-team all-district and all-league. He has signed to play at Valparaiso.

Junior catcher Alec McCurry (first-team all-district and all-league) batted .453 with 29 runs and 11 RBI and sophomore pitcher/infielder Tyler Johnson (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) was 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 16 walks in 49 1/3 innings. He also batted .389 with 25 RBI.

Junior third baseman Cody McCague (honorable mention all-district, second-team league) hit .328 with 21 RBI. Freshman first baseman Colin Shepherd (special mention all-league) batted .362 and junior outfielder Nick Mancini (honorable mention all-league) batted .305.

"We need to get better crossing our Ts and dotting our Is," Callaghan said. "We didn't have any long stretches of playing poorly. We have five kids graduating, so that means most of our roster will be back."

Also expected back are juniors Adam Dunn (C), Nick Johnson (OF), Michael Richard (P/C/1B/OF), Jake Ross (P/2B/OF) and Nathan Zebar (OF/DH), sophomore C.J. Stablein (P/SS/2B/OF) and freshman Matt Gutkoski (2B/SS/OF).

Braves coach pleasedwith players' effort

Olentangy finished 22-6 overall after losing to seventh-seeded Grove City 9-0 on May 21 in a Division I district semifinal at Hilliard Darby.

It was the fourth consecutive district semifinal appearance for the fifth-seeded Braves, who had a first-round bye before defeating 29th-seeded Dublin Coffman 3-1 at home May 15.

"(Returning to a district semifinal) means we have great kids who work hard," said coach Ryan Lucas, who completed his first season. "Even though we fell a little short (of a district title) this year, we hope we can continue to put ourselves in a position to win championships. (Former) coach (Steve) Little did a tremendous job of building the tradition of winning, and we plan on continuing that excellence on and off the field each year that we are here."

Sophomore outfielder/pitcher Grant Helber was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league. He batted .364 with 11 RBI and was 3-1 with one save, 19 strikeouts, 17 walks and a 1.52 ERA in 23 innings.

Junior outfielder/second baseman Tim Feasel (second-team all-league) hit .388 with 25 runs and 17 RBI. Senior shortstop/outfielder Christian Brett (second-team all-league) batted .351 with 19 runs.

Senior pitcher Casey Stanley (honorable mention all-league) was 6-3 with two saves, 40 strikeouts, six walks and a 2.68 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. He also batted .290.

Senior catcher Griffin Binkley hit .280 with 22 runs and 12 RBI. Sophomore catcher Joe McGuinness batted .314 with 23 runs and 13 RBI.

Senior pitcher Jacob Kaylor was 5-1 with 30 strikeouts, eight walks and a 3.02 ERA in 44 innings. Junior pitcher Nick Emery was 2-1 with three saves in 26 1/3 innings.

"The varsity went 22-6, our j.v. team went 20-6 and the freshmen were 24-0, achieving one of our program goals of winning 20-plus games at all levels," Lucas said. "I felt like our players did a great job of getting better week to week and not being stagnant or content with the success we were having early in the season."

Also expected back are juniors Anthony Allocco (OF/P), Donal Baker (1B/OF/P) Austin Moore (INF) and Case Troyer (INF/P) and sophomore Drew Batt (INF).

Patriots coach likesteam's progress

Liberty finished 19-10 overall after losing to third-seeded Watkins Memorial 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal May 21 at Pickerington North.

The eighth-seeded Patriots had a first-round bye before defeating 25th-seeded New Albany 11-1 in five innings at home May 15.

"We are excited about the growth of our kids on the field and as competitors," said coach Ty Brenning, who completed his second season. "Our players enjoy playing against the best teams around and look forward to the challenge that comes with trying to consistently compete at a high level."

Liberty tied Marysville for second (9-5) in the OCC-Central behind Thomas Worthington (11-3) and ahead of Coffman (8-6), Upper Arlington (8-6), Hilliard Davidson (6-8), Central Crossing (5-9) and Westland (0-14).

Junior Jacob Niggemeyer (P/3B/OF) was first-team all-district and the OCC-Central Player of the Year. He batted .500 with four homers, 41 RBI, 11 doubles and 24 runs. He also was 6-2 with 62 strikeouts, 15 walks and a 1.90 ERA in 51 innings.

Junior shortstop Danny Kirchner (first-team all-district and all-league) batted .432 with 40 runs, three triples, 15 doubles, 12 stolen bases, three homers and 23 RBI. Senior second baseman Louis Firmstone (first-team all-league, honorable mention all-district) hit .415 with 28 runs, 17 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

Senior first baseman Max Gunn (second-team all-league) batted .410 with 13 RBI. He also was 2-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 24 innings.

Sophomore infielder Cam-eron Comer (special mention all-league) batted .372 with 26 runs, 16 RBI, one homer, two triples and eight doubles. Junior pitcher Mitchell Griffiths (honorable mention all-league) was 3-2 with two saves, 33 strikeouts, 14 walks and a 3.95 ERA in 39 innings.

Sophomore pitcher A.J. Kullman was 2-2 with one save, 23 strikeouts, nine walks and a 3.63 ERA in 34 innings. Junior outfielder Marcus Wechselberger batted .276 with 21 runs, 19 RBI and one home run.

"We have grown in several major areas, including preparation, concentration and toughness," Brenning said. "Our preparation was outstanding throughout the year. Kids came to the ballpark every day with a desire to learn and grow as players. It was neat to see our kids asking good questions about the game and to maintain the focus needed to concentrate on a variety of details."

Also expected to return are juniors Matt Matthaes (C), Steven Meegan (C), Morgan Rankey (OF) and Cameron Vogt (P) and sophomores Hunter Littlejohn (1B/OF) and Charlie Lutwen (2B).