The demeanor inside the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team's dugout this spring will take coach Jim Campolo some time to get used to.
The Lions aren't having trouble getting serious when necessary, but there's been a more easygoing approach that's different from a season ago when they went 25-6 and lost to Elyria 6-4 in a Division I state semifinal.
"It's a different group of kids," said Campolo, who is in his 18th season. "Last year they wanted a shot at state and they knew what they wanted to do. This year it's more laid-back and they've been having fun. It's kind of driving me crazy, but we're hoping that's what will end up being the key to their success."
The Lions had a new No. 1 pitcher as well as different players filling several key roles when they opened with five games March 26 through Friday, March 30, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Back to lead the way are senior Addie Kittel (P/3B), junior Lauren Ringhiser (LF/P) and junior Molly Troutman (SS).
No longer in the lineup are five players who are competing collegiately in 2017 graduates Faith Bogard (P, Tiffin), Aly Harrell (1B, Marshall), Mackenzie Soma (2B, Wright State), Lauren Woodward (CF, Penn State) and Kristen Zink (RF, Otterbein).
What hasn't changed, according to Troutman, are the program's expectations.
"Having a lot of new faces on our team this season, we've been focused on building a strong sense of family," she said. "Our team is looking solid and continues to work on getting 1 percent better every day. Our goal every year has been to peak at the right time and make a deep run in the tournament, and this year is no exception."
Kittel went 8-0 last season as the No. 2 pitcher behind Bogard but likely will throw many of the key innings, with Ringhiser also expected to see action in the circle.
Kittel has committed to Lehigh after making special mention all-OCC-Ohio Division and second-team all-district last season. Ringhiser was second-team all-league and has committed to Towson.
Troutman was second-team all-district and all-league and has committed to Ohio University.
Senior Gracey Day will be at third base when Kittel is pitching.
Junior Ashley Waters is the new second baseman, and junior Alaina Marcum has taken on full-time duties at catcher.
Junior Samantha Lindsey and freshman Danielle Shoulders are splitting time at first base.
When Ringhiser is not pitching, she'll be in left field, with junior Audra Ledbetter in right and sophomore Ericka Harmon and freshman Kelsey Cripe sharing center.
Juniors Prue Crusie and Ale Nye could play a variety of positions, with Crusie also likely serving as the No. 2 catcher. Sophomore Caroline Heller is another who should see time in a utility role, and sophomore Sydney Neville could see action as a courtesy runner.
Gahanna opens league play April 11 against Reynoldsburg.
"Our schedule is tough again," Campolo said. "It's like I tell the kids, it comes down to pitching. We'll hit. Our outfield was exceptional last year, but I think our infield will be every bit as good as last year and I think we can hit pretty well one through six (in the lineup)."
Baseball team to lean on pitching depth
The baseball team believes it can have an effective pitching staff even though it lost its No. 1 starter to graduation and another key pitcher is expected to miss the season.
The Lions, whose first test of that theory came when they played five games in four days from March 26 through Thursday, March 29, in Cocoa Beach, Fla., are coming off a 17-8 season in which they were Division I regional runners-up for the second year in a row.
Now leading the staff is senior right-hander Mitchel Megias, who has committed to Notre Dame after making special mention all-OCC-Ohio.
"We have more arms than we did last year," 27th-year coach Mike Shade said. "(Megias) has got a big arm, a good breaking ball and has worked on his movement. Our sophomore class has gotten a little bigger and stronger, so hopefully we'll be good defensively."
Senior left-hander Austin Burchfield also figures to have a key spot in the rotation, while senior Matt Rudesill and juniors Ryan McMurray and Dylan Swenson should be other top pitchers.
Sophomore Evan Wolf, who is the brother of last year's No. 1 starter, 2017 graduate Jackson Wolf, and classmates Blake Reed, Alex Streitenberger and Mason Weber are others who should pitch.
Seniors Mason Coleman (CF) and Jarod White (1B) and junior Noah Laurent (SS) are returning starters. White was second-team all-league and Coleman was honorable mention all-league last season.
Senior Peter Sergakis saw time at second base last season but is expected to be in the outfield and at designated hitter.
Senior Josh Miller is at third, with senior Dustin Weiss and Reed at catcher.
Weber also should see time at third base when he's not pitching.
Seniors Jacob Ball (OF), Jacob Weimer (1B/DH) and Dylan Winger (utility) and juniors Danny Bossart (P/OF), Chase Coleman (INF) and Taylon Galbraith (OF) are others looking to contribute.
Senior pitcher Johnathon Novinec has committed to Ohio Dominican but is expected to miss the season with an injury, as is senior outfielder Devon Lee.
In addition to the graduation of Jackson Wolf, who threw a no-hitter in an 11-0 regional semifinal final win over Big Walnut before the Lions lost to Olentangy Orange 4-3 in the regional final, Cael Baker (C), Major Belli (P/DH) and Josh Oddi (3B) graduated. Senior Karter Johnson, who was a regular outfielder, has transferred to Pickerington Central.
Baker was named state Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and now is playing for Cincinnati, while Jackson Wolf is at West Virginia.
"We've got great kids," said Shade, whose team opens league play Monday, April 2, at home against Reynoldsburg. "They're working hard and have done everything we've asked them to do. This is a team that has a lot different of a look than last year. It'll be different, but it'll be fun. We're going to be competitive every day."
March 26 -- Morgantown (W.Va.) University in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
March 27 -- Melbourne (Fla.) Florida Prep in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
March 28 -- Washington (D.C.) Maret and Mount Vernon in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
March 29 -- Rockledge (Fla.) in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
*April 2 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
April 3 -- at Teays Valley
*April 4 -- at Reynoldsburg
*April 6 -- at Pickerington North
*April 9 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 10 -- at Watterson
*April 11 -- vs. Grove City
*April 13 -- at Grove City
*April 16 -- vs. Lancaster
*April 18 -- at Lancaster
April 19 -- at DeSales
*April 20 -- at Pickerington Central
April 21 -- vs. Olentangy and New Albany
*April 23 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*April 25 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 27 -- at Pickerington North
*April 30 -- vs. Grove City
*May 2 -- vs. Lancaster
May 3 -- at Thomas Worthington
*May 4 -- at Pickerington Central
March 26 -- Marion (N.C.) McDowell in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 27 -- Reston (Va.) South Lakes in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 28 -- Waterford (Pa.) Fort LeBoeuf in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 29 -- Williamsport (Pa.) Loyalsock Township in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 30 -- Lorton (Va.) South County in Myrtle Beach. S.C.
April 3 -- vs. Johnstown
April 4 -- vs. Newark
April 5 -- at Marysville
April 10 -- vs. Teays Valley
*April 11 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 12 -- at Pickerington North
April 14 -- vs. Amherst Steele and Grafton Midview
*April 16 -- vs. Grove City
*April 18 -- vs. Lancaster
*April 19 -- at Pickerington Central
April 20 -- Point Pleasant (W.Va.) and Waterford in Valley of Thunder Tournament at Willow Wood Symmes Valley
April 21 -- Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant and Wellston in Valley of Thunder Tournament at Willow Wood Symmes Valley
*April 23 -- at Reynoldsburg
*April 25 -- vs. Pickerington North
*April 26 -- at Grove City
*April 30 -- at Lancaster
*May 2 -- vs. Pickerington Central
May 4 -- Springfield Kenton Ridge in Gahanna Showcase
May 5 -- Mason and Lebanon in Gahanna Showcase
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 31 -- At Licking Valley
April 2 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
April 3 -- Home vs. Westerville South
April 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 4 -- At Westerville South
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson
April 3 -- At Groveport
*April 3 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*April 4 -- At Dublin Coffman