The Centennial High School softball team will be looking to represent the City League-North Division in the City championship game for the third consecutive season.
The Stars return nine starters, including six who earned all-league honors last season when they went 13-1 in the City-North to tie Whetstone for first. They then beat the Braves 12-5 in a playoff to advance to the City final, where they allowed a 12-run inning and lost to Eastmoor Academy 13-5.
Leading the way should be senior Gwen Moran, a first-team all-league pitcher who went 9-5 with 104 strikeouts and 38 walks in 83 innings last spring.
"Our strength again this year will be pitching with Gwen coming back," said seventh-year coach Malik Dean, whose team finished 15-8 overall last season. "We need to work more on our defense and keeping ourselves from getting rattled and giving up the big inning. Keeping our mistakes to a minimum will also help in our development defensively."
Centennial opened March 25 against Dublin Scioto and played Hartley on March 26. It began league play March 27 against International.
The lineup figures to be led by seniors Ikera Ike (1B) and Jordan Fischer (OF/3B), who will be four-year letterwinners. Ike batted .571 with 24 runs and 33 RBI last season and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district in Division II. Fischer batted .531 with 29 runs and 24 RBI and was second-team all-league.
Also returning are junior Izabell Segovia (3B/P) and sophomores Etta Coale (OF) and Yazmine Segovia (OF). Izabell Segovia batted .500 with 27 runs and 34 RBI and was second-team all-league, and Coale and Yazmine Segovia were honorable mention all-league.
Juniors Mary LaForrest (2B/SS) and Brina Rigsbee (SS/2B) and sophomore Giana Francescon (C) also were starters last season.
The Stars lost just one starter to graduation in Elise Fallon, a catcher who batted .565 with 36 runs and 34 RBI. She was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
"Our offense is still developing and our hope is that it goes above and beyond expectations," Dean said. "Our team speed has improved this year and that should help offensively and defensively. I think our middle infielders, Brina and Mary, are going to be good leaders as juniors."
Senior Kamriana Thomas (OF), junior Shalin Ortega (INF), sophomore Emilee Flowers (INF) are newcomers.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Lauren Bailey (INF), Lauren Long (utility) and Kassy Stefanski (P).
Baseball team must find new ace
The baseball team will be relying on different arms this season, as senior left-hander and Ohio Dominican commit Myles Martinez is out after undergoing Tommy John surgery March 13.
Martinez injured his left elbow during the postseason last spring. He competed for the cross country and basketball teams during the fall and winter but the injury did not fully heal.
"We lost our ace, Myles Martinez, to season-ending surgery and we are going to rely heavily on our senior, Cameron Vasquez, as well as our two sophomores, C.J. Dean and Nate Dorinsky, to throw some key innings this year," third-year coach Pat Nance said. "We are developing arms behind those three in order to fill in some innings as necessary."
Martinez batted .333 with six doubles, 15 runs and 25 RBI last season. He also was 3-1 with a 1.81 ERA and was first-team all-league as the Stars finished 13-12 overall and went 10-2 in the City-North to place second behind Whetstone (11-1).
Centennial opened March 26 against Bexley and begins league play Friday, March 29, against visiting East.
Vasquez, who also plays outfield, had a 2.93 ERA in 28 2/3 innings last spring and was second-team all-league.
Dean, a shortstop when not on the mound, batted .324 and scored 17 runs last season. Dorinsky, who can play infield or outfield, batted .286 with 15 RBI.
Other returnees are senior Logan Baldogo (P/INF) and juniors A.J. Grumbling (P/INF/OF) and Evan Teeters (C).
The roster also includes three junior newcomers in Jaden Kimbrough (P/2B), Joe Theis (P/INF) and Turner Wolfenberger (P/INF) and freshman Blake Bennett (OF).
"Joe is a solid infielder and great reliever on the mound, Jaden is a great infielder with plus range and Turner is a great addition to our lineup and pitching staff," Nance said. "Blake gets to everything in the outfield and has a plus arm."
In addition to Martinez, the Stars also lost four starters in 2018 graduates Nigel Harris (CF), Peyton Hathaway (3B), Shaan Morales (SS) and Tanner Radford (C). Harris, Morales and Radford all were second-team all-league, and Morales and Radford also were second-team all-district in Division II. Hathaway was honorable mention all-district and all-league.
"This year we are going to have to depend on everyone to make contact at the plate and make people get us out," Nance said. "Strikeouts are going to have to be kept to a minimum."
Others looking to fill spots are senior Roy Frimpong, juniors Daniel Anokye, Kyle Hicks and Maurice Lemmons, sophomore Jacob Barnes and freshmen Alec Proudfoot and Nick Rivers.
"The strength of our team this year is our bond among players and staff," Nance said. "I have worked hard for three years for us to play as a team and this year I think that we will be able to get through any obstacle we face in order to be successful as a team."
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial baseball, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
March 28 -- Home vs. Grandview
*March 29 -- Home vs. East
March 30 -- At Hartley (DH)
*April 1 -- At Linden-McKinley
*April 3 -- Home vs. Northland
March 29 -- Home vs. Dayton Chaminade Julienne
April 2 -- Home vs. Delaware
*March 29 -- Home vs. East
March 30 -- At Bexley
*April 1 -- At Linden
April 2 -- Home vs. Westland
*April 3 -- Home vs. Northland
April 2 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
*April 3 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy
TRACK & FIELD
March 30 -- New Carlisle Tecumseh Invitational