After winning 12 games in 2017, the Hartley High School baseball team improved by seven victories and won a Division II district championship last season.
The Hawks likely won't take anyone by surprise this spring.
Ten players who held key roles a season ago have returned for Hartley, which went 19-8 overall last year, shared the CCL championship with DeSales at 6-2 and beat the Stallions 1-0 to win its first district title since 1996.
"Our goals always stay the same," fourth-year coach Chris Sawyer said. "We want to make it very hard for our opponents to win at our place, win our league and be playing our best baseball at the end of the year. I believe we have one of the best leagues in the state and if we can compete in our league, I think we have a very good chance of doing good things in the (district) tournament."
Hartley opened March 23 by splitting a doubleheader with Bloom-Carroll, losing the first game 8-6 but winning the second 11-1, and also beat Northland 11-1 on March 26, Fisher Catholic 16-8 on March 27 and Newark Catholic 6-5 on March 28.
The Hawks were 4-1 before playing Canal Winchester on April 2. They open CCL action April 12 at Ready.
Seniors Philip Cole (CF), Jacob Culbertson (P), Thomas Mayhan (SS), Adam McVicker (OF/1B/P) and Josh Moore (2B) and juniors James Farrell (3B), Kylan Kortokrax (P/1B/3B), Matt McElligott (P/C/OF/INF) and Mason Sawyer (C) lead the way.
Last season, Cole hit .463 with three home runs, 36 runs scored, 24 RBI and 12 stolen bases, Sawyer batted .400 with two home runs, 22 RBI and 16 runs, McVicker had two home runs, 17 RBI and 27 runs and Mayhan scored 21 runs.
On the mound a year ago, Culbertson went 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. Kortokrax was 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 36 1/3 innings, McVicker went 3-3 with 18 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings and McElligott was 1-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 36 innings.
Sawyer and Cole both were named second-team all-district.
Sophomore Jacob Skelly (1B) also gained starting experience last season while sophomore David Menches should be another key pitcher.
Rounding out the senior class is Diego Pena (OF).
The only key players lost to graduation were Luke Rawlins (1B/P), who batted .542 with two home runs and 32 RBI and was 5-for-5 in save opportunities, and Anthony Whitney (OF), who had a team-best 15 stolen bases.
McElligott and Rawlins combined for a no-hitter in the tournament win over DeSales.
"We need to play each game with a selfless and relentless attitude," coach Sawyer said. "If we do that, the score will take care of itself."
Girls lacrosse team building depth
Led by 11 seniors, including four strong scorers, the girls lacrosse team had an eight-game winning streak last season en route to finishing 9-6.
The Hawks have a younger roster this spring, and some of their most talented players are in the sophomore and junior classes.
"We're just trying to get everybody to be strong so that it's not just a one- or two-player team and not focused on only a few players," senior Sienna Caridi said. "We really want to get everybody involved in being a standout."
Caridi, who has switched from defender to midfielder this season, is part of a six-member senior class that also is led by attacker Tommie Lipp.
Sophomore midfielder Sydney Onega is the Hawks' leading returning scorer, having totaled 38 goals and 17 assists a year ago, and sophomore Sidney Sheridan returns at goalkeeper after having a .550 save percentage last season.
Junior Kennedy Porter and sophomore Maggie Agra are leading the defense, and sophomore Annie Reis is another key midfielder along with Caridi.
The other seniors are attackers Rajahle Lawson and McKenna Maloney and defenders Sarah Oboy and Judy Zang.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Kyle Clark (midfielder), Lulu Collins (attacker), Grace Croswell (defender), Kylie Downey (attacker), Emma Ramsey (goalie), Audrey Ryan (midfielder) and Asya Saelim-Ector (defender) and sophomores Naomi Gitahi (defender), Lily Lindemann (defender) and Bryn Power (attacker).
Hartley opened March 16 with a 13-4 loss to Olentangy and lost to Dublin Jerome 19-2 on March 17 before beating Olentangy Orange 12-7 on March 21. The Hawks opened Central Independent League and CCL action April 2 at home against Columbus School for Girls.
"This will be somewhat of a rebuilding season after losing 11 seniors and eight starters from last season," ninth-year coach Molly Gilbert said. "I hope that we can come together as a group faster than most would anticipate after losing so many senior starters. I'm very confident that we can quickly adjust to a new starting roster and prove to be a competitive team in the CCL and CIL."
Tennis team builds with athleticism
Although there are just three players with previous varsity experience in the boys tennis program, second-year coach Daniel Chun is excited about the potential he sees in his team.
A trio of athletic seniors new to the program are providing depth, and there are four sophomores whom Chun can build around in the future.
The Hawks opened April 1 at Hamilton Township and begin CCL action Tuesday, April 9, against St. Charles at Wolfe Park.
"All of my guys, except for one, are two- or three-sport athletes at Hartley," Chun said. "What we lack in tennis experience, they make up for by just being very good athletes. We're going to be an athletic team and we'll work hard."
Junior Andrew Croswell and sophomores Nick Chovan and John Hoover gained experience during the regular season last year but did not play in the postseason.
Croswell will fill one of the singles slots, with Hoover and Chovan likely seeing time at doubles.
Seniors Ryan Heuser, Braylon Mitchell and Morgan Safford have joined the team after helping the boys basketball team win a Division II district championship. Heuser could end up playing first singles, with Mitchell and Safford seeing time at singles or doubles.
Sophomores Dominic Rees and Nick Stassen also are looking to contribute.
Hartley will continue to play its home matches at Wolfe Park.
"I scheduled a ton of matches," Chun said. "We're going to compete every match. I know these kids are just going to have fun and these seniors are going to get better as we build the program."
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley baseball, girls lacrosse, softball and boys tennis teams:
April 6 -- At Groveport (DH)
April 9 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*April 4 -- At Bexley
April 4 -- Home vs. Berne Union
April 6 -- Der Dutchman Classic at Jonathan Alder
*April 8 -- At Watterson
*April 10 -- At Ready
April 8 -- At Groveport
*April 9 -- Home vs. St. Charles