Versatility and experience should be key components for the Central Crossing High School baseball team this spring.
Coach Bob Todd said the Comets have the makeup to improve on last season's mark of 9-13 overall and a fifth-place finish (5-10) in the OCC-Central Division behind champion Hilliard Davidson (13-2).
"We have kids that are athletic enough that we can move them around," said Todd, who is in his 17th season. "We have five guys that can play in the middle infield and in the outfield. We can see who performs well enough to hold down positions.
"We have a lot of competition, which is good. We will have competition for playing time. They will have to play well to earn the right to be in the lineup on any given day."
The Comets have nine players who started at one time or another last season.
Senior Austin Woods (C/SS/3B/P) was first-team all-district in Division I and all-league, leading Central Crossing in batting average (.405), RBI (18) and stolen bases (12) and tying for the lead in runs with 17. On the mound, he was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 16 walks in 21 innings.
Senior J.J. Carr (1B/3B/P; honorable mention all-league) batted .317 with 16 RBI and 12 runs and was 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 28 walks in 41 innings.
Junior Tyler Ronevich (1B/3B/P) pitched a team-high 43 innings, going 2-5 with a 3.74 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 15 walks. Junior Matt Reed (2B/SS; second-team all-league) batted .325 with seven RBI and 16 runs.
Also seeing starting time were seniors Jamie Adrovet (OF), Nash Baker (OF; .283, 8 RBI, 9 runs), Dylan Davis (C/OF) and Mannee Wells (SS/2B/OF; .273, 10 RBI, 17 runs) and junior Drew DeYarmon (1B; .319, 15 RBI, 13 runs).
"We have good team chemistry that not a lot of teams will have," Carr said. "We have been playing together since we were freshmen. We rolled over everyone in our freshman year, so it should be a good, competitive season."
Chase Collins is a returning pitcher who also plays the outfield. He is part of a 10-player senior class that also includes John Counts (OF), Tyler Dean (P/OF), Nathan Havens (OF).
"We're senior-heavy," Todd said. "We have the ability and the experience to be successful. They know the level that they have to compete in order to be successful. At the end of the day, you are only as good as your senior class and only as good as they want to be."
Juniors Derek Seigneur (C) and Joey Repeta (OF) and sophomore Hayden Thompson (OF/1B) round out the roster.
"We have a very good pitching staff, and we can play very good defense," Todd said. "We can hit and score runs, and that's where we have to improve on from last year."
The Comets opened by defeating Wheeling (West Virginia) Central Catholic 6-4 on March 23 and played Glen Dale (West Virginia) John Marshall on March 25.
Central Crossing begins league play April 5 against Upper Arlington.
Softball team must replace Gant
The softball team lost only three players to graduation but one was Emily Gant, who now pitches at Boston University.
As a senior, Gant was 17-4 with 316 strikeouts, 12 walks and a 0.52 ERA in 135 innings. She was named first-team all-state in Division I, district Player of the Year and first-team all-OCC-Central.
Coach Rona Dorsey said no one player could replace Gant, so the Comets likely will use a two-pitcher staff of senior Haley Maher and junior Megan Tittle.
"Haley Maher was a third baseman for us last year and will pitch for us to start the season," said Dorsey, who is in her 10th season. "She pitched in a scrimmage against Grove City (on March 16) and threw three scoreless innings. Megan Tittle pitched some for us last year, and we hope she can pick up where she left off at the end of last season.
"Not having Emily is a big loss, but we're excited about rebuilding and we need the next pitcher to step up. I've had that before and kids step up and make it their own."
The Comets return a strong nucleus from last season, when they finished 19-5 overall and placed second (8-2) in the OCC-Central behind Mary-sville (10-0).
A pair of seniors return in the middle infield in shortstop Chloe Corum and second baseman Andi Rapp. Corum (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) hit .342 and led the Comets in home runs (4) and RBI (20) and scored 17 runs. Rapp (second-team all-league) hit .278 with six RBI, 21 runs and nine stolen bases.
Cheyenne Scott (second-team all-district) has moved from center field to catcher, replacing four-year starter Hannah Scott. The sophomore batted .424 with one homer, 19 RBI, 21 runs, five triples and 14 stolen bases last season.
Maher (honorable mention all-league) batted .329 with 14 RBI and 11 runs and will play third when not pitching. She will be spelled at third by junior Maeghan Graves or freshman Skylar Bryant.
Tittle, sophomore Rebekah Reynolds and freshman Alexia Elias will play first base.
Junior Kaiden Martin will play center field with freshmen Bella Kent and Abby Sullivan also playing in the outfield.
Freshmen Alyssa Bishop (P) and Alexa Elias (OF/1B) round out the roster.
"I think we have picked up some speed," Dorsey said. "We have a good mix of experience and young players, (which) challenges our coaching staff. That makes it fun."
The Comets opened March 25 against Pickerington North. They begin OCC-Central play April 10 against UA.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 2 -- At Westerville North
March 28 -- At Hilliard Bradley
March 30 -- At Ready with Utica
April 2 -- At Hilliard Darby
April 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 1 -- Home vs. Columbus West
April 2 -- Home vs. Grove City
TRACK & FIELD
March 29 -- Pickerington North Quad
April 3 -- At Independence