Coach Phil Callaghan likes what he sees from his Olentangy Orange High School baseball team.
The Pioneers return seven starters from last year's squad that finished 24-4 overall and placed second (12-2) in the OCC-Capital Division behind Olentangy (13-1).
Callaghan, who is in his seventh season, said he's leading a dedicated group.
"The kids are good to be around every day in practice," he said. "They are great guys and want to do things the right way. They love to play the game."
Three seniors lead the list of returnees in Tyler Brown (P/1B), Jason Schutte (P/OF/1B) and Zach Stiteler (C). Brown, a Vanderbilt signee who was limited to designated-hitter duties last season after elbow surgery, batted .413 with six home runs and 43 RBI and was named first-team all-district and all-league.
Schutte (first-team all-district and second-team all-league) batted .391 with 25 runs, 25 RBI and 16 stolen bases. He also was 8-1 with a 1.21 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 10 walks in 58 innings.
Stiteler (second-team all-league) batted .338 with 16 runs and 15 RBI.
"Our pitching and defense are definitely strengths for us," Schutte said. "We have a bunch of guys who can throw for us and our infield is as good as it has ever been."
Joining Brown and Schutte on the mound will be seniors Adam Brady (INF), Logan Moss (2B), Garrett O'Reilly (3B) and Matt Poole (SS/3B).
Moss was honorable mention all-league last spring after batting .305 with 22 runs and 19 RBI. He also was 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA, five strikeouts and three walks in 9 2/3 innings.
Until senior center fielder Zach Pfeiffer returns from a shoulder injury, the Pioneers will have a young outfield featuring a rotation of juniors Cole Callaghan and Ben Miller, sophomore Robbie Dayhuff and freshman David Hughes.
"Our outfield is fast and athletic and everything will come together with experience," coach Callaghan said. "They will be fine. They just need to learn to play at the varsity level."
The Pioneers started the season by splitting their first four games. They defeated Ports-mouth 11-3 and Greenup (Kentucky) 7-3 on March 25 before losing to Pickerington Central 4-3 in nine innings March 29 and Gahanna 7-4 on March 30.
Orange opened OCC-Buckeye play by defeating Liberty 7-5 on April 3.
Girls lacrosse team
Coach Megan Noone is looking for consistency in her third season leading the girls lacrosse program.
The Pioneers finished 11-9 overall last season and were second (3-1) in the OCC-Capital behind New Albany (4-0). They now play in the OCC-Buckeye.
"We lost six games by one goal last year, so we're more demanding this year," Noone said.
"We're demanding more from the program and demanding more in practice. They are a close-knit group and the girls are holding their teammates accountable. They demand more from each other."
Senior midfielder Brooke Delara was second-team all-region and first-team all-league last season, and senior Anna Peura (special mention all-league) is in her fourth year starting at defender.
Senior Alex Lowry also is a key midfielder.
"We have been playing efficiently 50-plus minutes, but have some lapses," said Noone, whose team was 0-2 before playing Pickerington Central on April 4. "We have some great moments and then we have moments of throwing the ball away and making poor decisions. We need to be playing more consistently."
Attackers include seniors Breea Cristofoli and Rhyann Green and junior Lauren Clary. Junior Regan Keane and freshman Hannah Brown will help anchor the midfield.
Senior Sarah Poole and juniors Bella Lindell, Melanie Neuman and Kaitlyn Pheiffer are other key defenders.
Junior Corynn Schneider and sophomore Grace McAninch will share time in goal.
The Pioneers lost their opener to Columbus School for Girls 11-7 on March 28 before losing to Columbus Academy 11-5 on April 1.
"We're excited to go out and have a successful season," said Noone, whose team opens league play Thursday, April 6, at Westerville Central. "We have a great group of girls who are demanding excellence."
State qualifiers lead
boys tennis program
Senior Jonathan Zhuravel and junior Jordan Phelps have returned to play singles for the boys tennis team after going 1-1 in doubles last season in the Division I state tournament.
Fifth-year coach Matt Rutherford said the duo was ready to get back on the court.
"They have been talking about what they need to do since the day after they lost (at state) last year," said Rutherford, whose team finished 10-4 overall last season and placed second (6-1) in the OCC-Capital behind New Albany (7-0). "I think their goal is to make it to the second day of the state tournament."
Zhuravel and Phelps will play first and second singles during the regular season with sophomore Alex Heiden at third singles.
Seniors Kyle Brace and Connor Wolfe, juniors David Cavote and Tejas Venkatechelem and sophomore Zach Shaver will play doubles.
"I'm pretty comfortable with having eight on varsity," said Rutherford, whose team was 3-0 after defeating Thomas Worthington 3-2 on April 3. "Connor Wolfe has developed into a good leader and is a guy I expect to do well in tough moments. Kyle Brace is a good player who has played well for us since he was a freshman."
Orange opened with 5-0 victories over Worthington Kilbourne on March 29 and Big Walnut on March 30.
The Pioneers now play in the OCC-Buckeye. They open league play Thursday, April 6, at Liberty.
March 25 -- at Portsmouth with Greenup (Ky.)
March 29 -- vs. Pickerington Central
March 30 -- at Gahanna
*April 3 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*April 4 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*April 5 -- vs. Westerville Central
*April 7 -- at Westerville Central
*April 10 -- at Westerville South
*April 12 -- vs. Westerville South
April 13 -- at Upper Arlington
*April 17 -- at Olentangy
*April 19 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 21 -- vs. Westerville North
April 22 -- vs. Big Walnut
*April 24 -- at Westerville North
*April 26 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*April 28 -- vs. Westerville Central
*May 1 -- at Westerville South
*May 3 -- at Olentangy
*May 5 -- vs. Westerville North
May 6 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
March 28 -- at Columbus School for Girls
April 1 -- vs. Columbus Academy
April 4 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*April 6 -- at Westerville Central
April 8 -- vs. DeSales
*April 11 -- vs. New Albany
*April 13 -- at Olentangy
April 14 -- vs. Mason
*April 19 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 22 -- Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and Cincinnati Indian Hill in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington
*April 25 -- vs. Westerville South
*April 27 -- at Big Walnut
April 29 -- vs. Uniontown Green
*May 2 -- vs. Westerville North
May 4 -- at Thomas Worthington
May 8 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
May 12 -- at Watterson
March 29 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
March 30 -- vs. Big Walnut
April 3 -- at Thomas Worthington
April 4 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 5 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 6 -- at Olentangy Liberty
April 10 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 11 -- vs. Westerville Central
*April 13 -- at Westerville South
*April 18 -- at Olentangy
*April 20 -- vs. Westerville North
April 25 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
April 26 -- vs. Upper Arlington
May 2 -- vs. New Albany
May 8 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys lacrosse, softball and track & field teams:
*April 6 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
April 8 -- At Centerville
*April 11 -- At New Albany
April 6 -- At Worthington Christian
April 8 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester and Ready
April 10 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
April 11 -- At Marysville
*April 12 -- At Olentangy Liberty
TRACK & FIELD
April 8 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 12 -- At Olentangy