A family atmosphere will play an important role in the Olentangy Berlin High School baseball team's first season.
When obstacles arise, players plan to overcome them together.
"Coach (Mike Weaver) has been preaching family," said junior Zach Martin, who plays third base. "We have to play as a family, stay as one and be relentless. We need to help each other throughout the season. We act as if we're brothers. They are all brothers to me and we have each other's backs."
The Bears dropped their first three games heading into an April 2 contest against Bexley. They lost to Fairfield 5-3 on March 23, Defiance 12-2 on March 26 and Lakewood 5-4 on March 28.
"These were the first three varsity games for everyone on our team," said Weaver, whose team begins OCC-Cardinal Division play Monday, April 8, at Dublin Scioto. "We don't have anyone with varsity experience.
"From the get go, we have had a culture of working to get better in every situation, every game, every day. We have to stay positive, stay together and keep getting better. If we can stay (on) that course, we'll make great strides because we have good kids who are coachable and they want to do well."
The infield features sophomore Tyler Euton at catcher, junior Chris Nash or sophomore Nathan Varner at first base, sophomore Jake Kinkead at second, junior Adam Wallace at shortstop and Martin at third. In the outfield, junior Jake Lewis plays right with juniors Daniel Helmers and Cameron Voinovich and sophomores Ryan Horstman and Jake Moeller rotating between the other two spots.
The pitching staff includes sophomore Mitch Herbst, Moeller, Nash, Varner and Wallace.
"All five have great stuff, but ... even though they have great stuff, anywhere else (the sophomores) would be learning on j.v. right now," Weaver said. "There are positives and negatives to it. The positive is that they get experience, and the negative is they might not be ready. But we get everybody back next year.
"Being young is not an excuse. They have to grow up fast. As long as they are coachable and continue to learn, we'll be OK."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Drew Evans (OF), Ryan Lowery (INF), Max Nourse (INF/P), Dylan Reeves (OF), Drew Sexton (INF/OF) and Matthew Zanetos (P).
Softball team starts season 'super-focused'
The softball team has two players with varsity experience in junior Kirsten Kracht and sophomore Heather Higgins.
Kracht started in right field for Olentangy last season but will play shortstop for the Bears. Higgins was a letterwinner off the bench for the Braves and will play third base.
"I think we are super-focused and everyone has bought into the development of the team and culture," said coach Jenna Haskins, who coached Orange the past two seasons. "We know we face more adversity not having any seniors and only three juniors. We really have grown in the mental aspect of the game even before the season began."
The Bears dropped their first two games before losing their OCC-Cardinal opener to Scioto 15-7 on April 1. They lost to Washington Court House Miami Trace 3-0 on March 27 and Marion Elgin 3-2 on March 28.
Kracht, catcher Blythe Beaumont and center fielder Lexie Lewis are the team's juniors. They will have a two-player pitching rotation in freshmen Kali Bateman and Ally Siegrist.
"We have two pitchers and both have different individual strengths," Haskins said. "Ally throws harder, but Kali is better at hitting her spots.
"We have these two pitchers, but they are not experienced in throwing against high school competition. We have to have a good defense and offense."
Sophomore Alli Burkhart will play first with sophomore Remy Camp at second. Lewis will be joined in the outfield by freshman Syd Billy in left and sophomores Sydney Cain and Autumn LeFevre in right.
Sophomore Maia Crumb will play catcher and outfield.
Boys volleyball team learning on court
Coach Dana Stearns has an idea of how to approach the inaugural season for the boys volleyball team because she faced the same situation last fall when leading the girls program.
Stearns has no players with varsity experience other than the team's three losses to start the season. Berlin lost its season and OCC-Cardinal opener to Scioto 25-21, 25-27, 25-12, 25-18 on March 28 and fell to Briggs 25-9, 25-16 and Chillicothe 25-18, 25-7 on March 30.
"I think having gone through the process once is helpful," said Stearns, whose team played a league match against Hilliard Bradley on April 2. "The girls game is a different beast. The boys game is growing all over the state and the kids are excited to learn. Many of the girls started the game at a young age so they know a lot. It's a lot about teaching fundamentals to the boys."
Sophomore setter Eli Gamble and sophomore outside hitter Drew Granger both played at the freshman level last spring at Olentangy. Freshman outside hitter Aiden Foster played prior to high school.
Outside hitter Andrew Lee is the Bears' lone junior and is new to the sport. Rounding out the roster are sophomore middle hitters Colton Beachley and Sam Newball, freshman outside hitters Mason Clark and Malachi Hamber and freshman libero Shon Pham.
"The big thing is serving and passing," Stearns said. "If we can be a program that can take control of serving and passing, we will have a lot of success."
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams:
April 5 -- Home vs. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
April 6 -- Home vs. Watterson
*April 8 -- At Dublin Scioto
*April 10 -- Home vs. Scioto
*April 4 -- At Dublin Jerome
*April 9 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*April 4 -- Home vs. Jerome
April 5 -- At Centennial
*April 9 -- At Kilbourne
*April 4 -- At Jerome
*April 8 -- At Thomas Worthington
*April 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 4 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
April 8 -- At Marysville
*April 9 -- At Jerome
April 10 -- At Upper Arlington
*April 4 -- At Jerome
April 6 -- At Reynoldsburg with Licking Heights
*April 8 -- At Thomas
*April 9 -- Home vs. Darby