In the second year of his tenure, Upper Arlington High School baseball coach Tom Marker thinks his team is ahead of where it was at this time last season.

In the second year of his tenure, Upper Arlington High School baseball coach Tom Marker thinks his team is ahead of where it was at this time last season.

Citing his players' work ethic during the offseason and a 40-percent increase in turnout throughout the program, Marker is fully confident the trend will hold and translate to a longer postseason run.

"I think things will be easier for the guys this year because they understand what to expect," said Marker, whose team is 2-0 after sweeping a doubleheader at Deatsville (Ala.) Holtville on March 26, winning 10-0 and 11-6. "They know the core values. They know the attention to detail that is required. They've been going hard six days a week since (offseason workouts began in) September. We have 72 guys now, and last year we had around 50. I really like where this program is right now."

While the Golden Bears lost several important cogs among the eight players who graduated from a team that went 20-10 overall and 10-4 in the OCC-Central Division and lost to league-rival Olentangy Liberty 3-2 in a Division I district final, they return two of their top four hitters in senior outfielder John Dible (.366 batting average, 25 RBI in 2015) and senior first baseman Nick Finelli (.338).

Junior John Hendrix will help lead a pitching staff trying to make up for the graduation of its top two contributors from 2015 in Ryan Miller, who was 5-0 with a 1.66 ERA, and Jacob Glaser, who went 4-3 with a 2.86 ERA. Hendrix handed eventual state runner-up Westerville Central its first loss a year ago.

Other candidates for the rotation are seniors Christian Gibbs, Matthew Jeffers, Nick Karsatos, Adam Newlon and Sam Orazen and junior Vinny Panzera. According to Marker, Orazen might be UA's closer.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Johnny Landolfi (OF), Will Pema (LF), Shade Seffens (DH/SS/OF), Mathias Thompson (C), juniors Jack Masters (SS/3B), Andrew Mulhall (2B/INF) and Jack Weaver (OF), sophomores Jack Connelly (OF/P), Brandon Horsley (CF), Jeremy O'Sullivan (SS/P), Austen Sawyer (P) and freshmen Tommy Dilz (2B/P) and Sammy Sass (C).

UA begins league play Monday, April 4, at Thomas Worthington. Its home opener is Wednesday, April 6, against Thomas.

The Bears tied Coffman for second in the OCC-Central last year, a game behind Liberty (11-3), before falling just short of their first district championship since 2010. But as he has done throughout his career, Marker rarely if ever discusses league titles with his team.

"We won't set up our rotation for league games or dwell on how the standings look. If we win, it will be a byproduct of being successful," Marker said. "What if we don't do well in our first few league games? I don't want one of our goals to be gone after a few games."

Boys volleyball team returns key players

Five seniors have returned to the boys volleyball team, which struggled down the stretch last year and finished 4-13 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio and lost to Liberty 25-15, 25-18, 25-16 in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.

Three starters are back in seniors Harrison Jackson (outside hitter) and Harrison Showe (middle hitter) and sophomore Gage Giller (outside hitter), but UA did lose both of its setters in 2015 graduate Clayton Wells and Grant Jones, who did not return for his senior season.

"The simple fact that there won't be huge changes this year should be a big benefit," said second-year coach Greg Holowchak, whose team opened March 29 at Worthington Kilbourne.

"Losing both of our setters, though, is going to take us some time to work through. It's all about getting used to each other and spending a lot of time to make the partnership (between setters and hitters) jell. It's about knowing how to find those hitters, knowing how high they jump and where to find them at any given time."

Rounding out the roster are seniors Kohl Aufdencamp (middle hitter), Said Saleh (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and Dylan Strahm (libero), juniors Cam Gallucci (setter), Chad Lewis (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Parker Rapp (libero) and sophomores Chris Acock (middle hitter), Haven Angel-Perez (middle hitter) and Mark Burns (setter).

UA's home opener is Friday, April 1, against North Union. The Bears will begin OCC-Ohio play Tuesday, April 5, at Hilliard Darby.

Last season, UA placed fifth in the league behind co-champions Darby and Davidson, which both went 9-1.

"Some of the guys will need a little time to get used to how the varsity game works," Holowchak said. "I like how the schedule works. We have time to improve early and things really pick up later in the season. I'm looking forward to seeing how they'll grow."

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 26 -- at Deatsville (Ala.) Holtville (DH)

March 31 -- Pickerington Central at V.A. Memorial Stadium

April 2 -- at Watkins Memorial with Teays Valley

*April 4 -- at Thomas Worthington

*April 6 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

*April 8 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

*April 11 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*April 13 -- vs. Central Crossing

*April 15 -- at Central Crossing

April 16 -- vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius and Grove City

*April 18 -- at Hilliard Davidson

*April 20 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*April 22 -- vs. Marysville

April 23 -- vs. Hilliard Darby and New Concord John Glenn

*April 25 -- at Marysville

*April 27 -- at Westland

April 28 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 29 -- vs. Westland

April 30 -- vs. Pickerington North

*May 2 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*May 4 -- at Dublin Coffman

May 7 -- Defiance at Defiance College

May 7 -- at Bryan

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

March 29 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

April 1 -- vs. North Union

*April 5 -- at Hilliard Darby

*April 7 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 12 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

April 13 -- vs. Olentangy

*April 14 -- at Thomas Worthington

April 15 -- at Dublin Scioto

April 18 -- vs. Pickerington Central

*April 19 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*April 21 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

April 23 -- vs. Cincinnati Oak Hills and Gahanna

*April 26 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*April 28 -- at Dublin Coffman

April 29 -- at St. Charles

*May 3 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

*May 5 -- at Hilliard Davidson

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and boys tennis teams:

BOYS LACROSSE

March 31 -- Home vs. St. Louis Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day

*April 6 -- At Hilliard Davidson

GIRLS LACROSSE

April 1 -- Home vs. Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South

*April 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

BOYS TENNIS

*March 31 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

*April 5 -- At Thomas Worthington

*League contest