With nine returnees and a potentially talented group of players added to the roster, the Westerville South High School softball team entered the season optimistic.

Video •Watch an interview with Westerville South senior softball player Lauren Kennedy.

"This year as a team we're definitely going to need to grow and I think we can do it," senior outfielder Lauren Kennedy said. "We all work together really well, so I'm looking forward to my senior season. I'm really going to miss it though."

The Wildcats opened the season by going 1-3 during a spring break trip to South Carolina, with the win coming March 29 against Daniel Island (South Carolina) England 11-4.

"We had close games and played hard," coach Jerry Kelbley said. "I'm pleased with the progress."

South lost to Dublin Scioto 10-5 on April 3 in its first game back in Ohio. It begins OCC-Buckeye Division play Wed-nesday, April 12, at Olentangy.

The league also includes Westerville Central, Westerville North, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange.

"We want to be the best we can and win our division," said Kelbley, who is in his 37th season.

Junior McKenna Saunders (OF) hit a team-high .416 last season. Also back are Kennedy and seniors Rachael Broyles (.360, 1B) and Sydney Gray (C).

"We want to grow as a team and work to get better," said Broyles, who had a team-high 26 RBI last year. "We're good right now, but we need to get a lot better."

Other returnees are juniors Bre Anderson (OF), Kirstin Antonaros (P/OF), Melanie Batchelder (INF) and Emily Phillips (INF) and sophomore Meghan Bame (P).

Other players are juniors Zoe Conley (3B), Emily Hahn (OF) and Majada Hejazin (INF), sophomore Angelite Boes (INF) and freshmen Alexa Batchelder (OF/P), Kate Forrest (INF), Yasmin Hussein (OF), Amelia Kidder (OF), Emma Meyer (OF) and Lillyan Ockovic (OF).

"We're hoping to accomplish coming together closer as a team and working with the younger girls so that the program continues to be good even when we leave," Kennedy said.

South is looking to replace pitcher Janee Marinelli, a 2016 graduate who was 6-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 66 innings last season.

Kelbley said Bame, Anton-aros and Alexa Batchelder have been competing for time in the circle.

Last season, South finished 11-17 overall and went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Canal Winchester for fifth behind champion Westerville Central (13-1).

Baseball team
has new look

After losing 15 players to graduation, the baseball team has a new look.

Despite the revamped roster, coach Tim Bates said his team has potential.

The Wildcats were 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy on April 4.

South defeated Northland 9-3 and Fairfield Christian 10-0 in six innings March 25. It lost to Scioto 7-5 on March 28 and Olentangy 5-2 in six innings April 3 in a rain-shortened game.

"I definitely like the way we started," said Bates, who is in his 14th season. "We were prepared for that first weekend. Our biggest thing is we basically have a new pitching staff."

The top returnee is junior Jaelen Gill (CF/SS/P), who hit .305 and scored 19 runs last season and was named second-team all-league. Gill has committed to play football at Ohio State.

Also back are senior Adam Tischler (.385, OF/P) and junior Jordan Orr (.314, 2B/P).

Other returnees are seniors Austin Lovell (OF) and Parker Van Scyoc (1B) and junior Eric Edman (C/P).

Senior Brad Robbins (P/SS/OF), a transfer from Worthington Christian who has committed to punt at Michigan, should be a key pitcher.

"It's nice to add Brad Robbins," Bates said. "He's been a three-year starter at Worthington Christian, so that's like having another returning starter on your team."

Other players are senior Cory Abbott (3B), juniors Andrew Boszor (OF), Daniel Hinz (2B/P) and Jack McLean (C), sophomores Seth Chrisman (INF), Michael Dailey (3B/C/P), Kamron Hempy (1B/P) and Jack Lovell (OF) and freshmen Alex Couch (INF) and Jake Llaneza (OF).

Hinz pitched a one-hitter against Fairfield Christian.

Bates said his team will be tested in the OCC-Buckeye.

"Our new alignment has made our division more challenging," he said. "There is not a tougher division in the OCC right now. We have four teams that have played (for) district championships the last (few) years. We have to play our best every single league game. There's no room to make a two-out error in this league."

Central has played in three consecutive district title games. Olentangy played in finals last season and 2014, Liberty played in a final in 2014 and Orange played in a final in 2013.

A key loss to graduation was Connor Oates (P/2B), who was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district after hitting .386 with 13 RBI and 16 runs.

The Wildcats finished 10-17 overall last season. They went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Dublin Jerome for sixth behind champion Hilliard Darby (11-3).

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BASEBALL

March 25 -- vs. Northland and Fairfield Christian

March 28 -- at Dublin Scioto

*April 3 -- vs. Olentangy

*April 4 -- at Olentangy

*April 5 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

*April 7 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*April 10 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*April 12 -- at Olentangy Orange

April 15 -- vs. Connellsville (Pa.) (DH)

*April 17 -- at Westerville North

*April 19 -- vs. Westerville North

*April 21 -- vs. Westerville Central

April 23 -- at Westland (DH)

*April 24 -- at Westerville Central

*April 26 -- at Olentangy

*April 28 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

April 29 -- at Johnstown (DH)

*May 1 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*May 3 -- at Westerville North

*May 5 -- vs. Westerville Central

May 6 -- vs. Teays Valley (DH)

SOFTBALL

March 27 -- at Charleston (S.C.) Northwood (DH)

March 29 -- at Daniel Island (S.C.) England

March 30 -- at Charleston (S.C.) West Ashley

April 3 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

April 5 -- vs. Ready

April 6 -- at Reynoldsburg

*April 12 -- at Olentangy

*April 13 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

*April 17 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*April 19 -- at Westerville North

*April 20 -- vs. Westerville Central

April 22 -- at Big Walnut (DH)

*April 24 -- vs. Olentangy

April 25 -- vs. Newark Catholic

*April 26 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*April 27 -- at Olentangy Orange

April 28 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

April 29 -- at Northridge (DH)

*May 1 -- vs. Westerville North

*May 3 -- at Westerville Central

May 4 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll

May 5 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

May 6 -- vs. Bexley (DH)

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the South boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:

BOYS LACROSSE

April 7 -- Home vs. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 6 -- Home vs. Olentangy

BOYS TENNIS

April 10 -- Home vs. Delaware

*April 11 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty

April 12 -- At Watkins Memorial

TRACK & FIELD

April 7 -- Hilliard Darby Panther Invitational

April 11 -- Home vs. Whitehall

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

*April 6 -- Home vs. Liberty

*League contest