The Whetstone High School baseball team is armed to defend the City League championship.

CORRECTION: The print and earlier online version of this story included incorrect information regarding the number of consecutive City League championships the Whetstone High School baseball team has won. The Braves are aiming for their eighth consecutive City title, not seventh.

The Whetstone High School baseball team is armed to defend the City League championship.

With a bevy of pitchers returning, the Braves will take aim for their eighth consecutive City title, but 26th-year coach Tim Broskie believes this could be one of their biggest challenges in years.

"It's an amazing streak that we always look forward to adding to," said Broskie, who entered the season with a 460-204 career record. "This year will be a huge challenge as Centennial and Northland will pose huge threats in the City-North (Division). Both have very good lineups returning and have outstanding pitchers back. Northland also got a key pitcher transfer from Tree of Life."

Last season, Whetstone finished 18-10 overall, won the City-North title at 11-1 ahead of runner-up Centennial (10-2) and defeated Briggs 4-3 in the City championship game to extend its record run of City titles to seven.

Prior to the Braves' City championship streak, the longest run of City titles was four, shared by East (1902-05) and West (1942-45).

Whetstone opened March 23 by beating Independence 16-3 and Millersport 16-0 and began league play March 27 against East.

The Braves lost five starters to graduation but returned five pitchers who saw extensive action last season. Seniors Jeffrey Golding and Jacob Price and juniors Ben Paugh, Aidan Stephens and Alex Timmons will be called upon the most on the mound.

Last season, Price went 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA in 29 innings and Golding, a left-hander, was 3-3 with a 1.81 ERA in 31 innings. Timmons (1.62 ERA in 22 innings) and Stephens (3.00 ERA in 12 innings) also are left-handers. Paugh had a 2.74 ERA in 16 innings.

Others who could see spot duty on the mound include junior Caleb Gloeckner, sophomores Zach Casto and Dominic Panzo and freshmen Charlie Burleson and Michael Newell-Dimoff.

"Pitching will obviously be our strength," Broskie said. "The jury is still out on our hitting and defensively, a lot of our players will have completely new roles from what they had last year. The key will be how quickly they adapt to their new roles."

When not on the mound, Price will be at shortstop, Golding will play first base, Stephens will be in left field, Timmons will play center field and Paugh will be in right field.

"Jacob and Jefferey are four-year lettermen and strong leaders," Broskie said. "Jacob is often like a coach on the field and Jeffery also has a ton of experience and moxie. Alex and Ben can play any position in the outfield and Ben is a very good power hitter. Aidan will miss the first few weeks with a broken collar bone."

Price was named first-team all-league last season, with Golding and Paugh making the second team and Timmons making honorable mention.

Sophomores Alex Hurt (2B), John Longar (3B) and Dominc Panzo (C) opened the season as starters.

Other expected contributors include juniors Caleb Gloeckner (P/OF) and Nairan Normand (C), sophomores Zach Casto (3B/1B/P), Joren Clem (INF), Zane Fent (OF) and Jake Hoffman (OF) and freshmen Charlie Burleson (OF/P) and Michael Newell-Dimoff (P/INF).

Softball team has versatility, experience

Having lost just two players to graduation from last year's squad, the softball team is seeking to improve on last season, when it finished 13-9 overall and tied Centennial for first in the City-North at 13-1.

The Braves, who lost to Centennial in a playoff for a berth in the City championship game each of the past two seasons, opened March 27 with a league game against East.

"The strength of our team will be our versatility, speed and experience," 13th-year coach Larry Peck said. "Almost all of our starters can play multiple positions and all are quality hitters, so that will give us a lot of flexibility in setting lineups. We can play who is hot at the plate and playing well in the field."

Seniors Roz Hannah (SS) and Jolie Mason (1B/OF) and junior Amelia Morris (OF/INF) all were first-team all-league last season. Hannah, who batted .587, is a fourth-year starter who also was honorable mention all-district in Division I. Mason, also a fourth-year starter, batted .500 and Morris batted .386.

Sophomore Sadie Hannah (OF/2B) played third base last year, batting .511 and making second-team all-league. Senior Gabby Thiede (2B) and junior Dahlia Kleen (OF), who batted .405, were honorable mention all-league.

Other returnees include juniors Abby Allen (C/1B), Lauren Armstrong (1B/RF) and Kassidy Keegan (3B/C) and sophomores Grace Brigle (INF/OF) and Megan Harrison (P/OF/INF).

"Our hitting leaders will be Roz, Jolie and Dahlia," Peck said. "Hopefully a few other consistent, solid hitters will emerge. We have a lot of team speed and likely will have to work to manufacture runs. We have a number of players capable of hitting for extra bases. .... I am optimistic we will be tough outs from top to bottom in the batting order with speed throughout."

Sophomore Anna Mary Absalom returns in the circle after going 7-1 with a 1.04 ERA in league contests last season when she was named second-team all-league.

"The only pitcher with much varsity experience is Anna Mary, so we need her to be consistent and injury-free," Peck said. "Behind Anna Mary, we have a number of relatively inexperienced pitchers who show potential."

Newcomers include seniors Lauren Keigley (3B/SS) and Avy Muon (1B/OF) and freshman Ellen Edwards (C/P/INF/OF).

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

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

BASEBALL

March 28 -- At Franklin Heights

*March 29 -- Home vs. Mifflin

*April 1 -- At Northland

April 2 -- At Gahanna

*April 3 -- Home vs. Beechcroft

GIRLS LACROSSE

March 28 -- At Delaware

April 2 -- At Marysville

SOFTBALL

*March 29 -- Home vs. Mifflin

*April 1 -- At Northland

April 2 -- At Big Walnut

*April 3 -- Home vs. Beechcroft

BOYS TENNIS

*March 29 -- Beechcroft at Park of Roses

April 2 -- Watterson at Park of Roses

*April 3 -- Northland at Woodward Park

TRACK & FIELD

April 3 -- At Centennial with Eastmoor Academy and International

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

March 28 -- Home vs. Northland

March 30 -- At Pickerington Central with Northland and Pickerington North

April 3 -- Home vs. Eastmoor

*League contest