The Thomas Worthington High School softball team plans to be more competitive this season and continue growing under second-year coach Casey Foster.

The Cardinals finished 1-16 last season, including 0-12 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. Their lone win came against Westland, 8-3 in a regular-season contest.

"We have a very young team that has incredible offensive potential once the season gets underway and they are regularly getting reps in the box," Foster said. "I do like the composition of the team. They've done a tremendous job of becoming a cohesive unit within the last few weeks. They have taken time to get to know one another and develop close-knit relationships, with the help of strong leadership from our seniors."

The Cardinals opened March 29 with a 6-4 loss at Canal Winchester and began league play April 1 with an 11-1 loss to Hilliard Bradley.

Thomas has returned 10 players from last season and is expected to be led by seniors Deven Howarth (1B/DH), Carmen Staton (2B) and Taylor Viebranz (1B/DH), juniors Marika Johnson (LF) and Jillian Riegert (CF) and sophomore Alli Kiehl (SS/P).

"Carmen and Jillian are returning starters and led the team in hitting (last year)," Foster said. "They are aggressive at the plate and produce a lot of our RBI.

"We also expect to see a lot of production from the top of our lineup with Alli and Marika using their small ball and hitting abilities. Marika is a left-handed slap hitter with great speed."

Sophomores Reid Dunbar (RF) and Brianna Waltermeyer (OF/2B) also are expected to be key players.

"Reid has transitioned from shortstop to outfield this season and will be a key player out there behind our young pitching, and Brianna is a solid hitter who can play infield or outfield," Foster said.

Freshman Sophia Rond will be one of the team's primary pitchers, along with Kiehl, while freshman Emma McNeilly is the starting catcher and freshman Sadie Maysonet is expected to start at third base.

"Sophia and Alli will be our starting pitchers on a rotation throughout the season," Foster said. "Both of them have worked diligently this offseason to prepare and have improved tremendously. With a strong defense behind them, we expect to see success in the circle and growth throughout the season."

Completing the roster are junior Madison Helm (P), sophomores Tori DeTemple (C) and Amanda Jones (1B) and freshmen Arianna Almond-King (OF), Lillian Benson (OF), Allyson Manello (OF) and Francia Parra (OF).

Versatility should help baseball team

The baseball team lost 14 players to graduation following last season when it finished 8-14 overall and 6-6 in the OCC-Cardinal.

The Cardinals have only one senior this season in second baseman Jarred Armstrong, but have returned many juniors who earned letters last year.

"We have seven juniors that lettered as sophomores and all received a significant amount of playing time and at-bats last year," third-year coach Chris Olson said. "We are looking for them to make sizeable jumps offensively for us. I think we will have tough outs top to bottom in our lineup this year."

The Cardinals opened March 23 with a 10-4 loss to Marysville and lost to Grove City 8-1 on April 1. They open league play Monday, April 8, at Bradley.

The returnees are juniors Chase Arrigo (1B), Nathan Borghese (CF/P), Luke Coe (RF/P), George Erickson (P), Caden Kirker (3B/P), Austin Parsons (LF/P) and Will Pischel (SS).

Erickson, who is a left-hander, and Kirker are expected to top the pitching rotation.

"Our pitching staff will be led by Erickson and Kirker, who both logged quite a few innings last year," Olson said. "We are looking for continued growth from both of them. We are also looking for some significant innings on the mound from Borghese, Coe and Parsons. All of those guys will do a good job of locating and changing speeds and all are very athletic on the mound."

Sophomore Brayden Lanter is the starting catcher.

Other newcomers are juniors Jake Bevan (INF/P), Kobe Faire (INF/OF), Ethan Kissel (INF/P), Nathan Skeen (OF/P), Andrew Thompson (OF) and Ben Yates (OF/P).

Arrigo, Bevan, Kissel, Skeen and Yates are expected to be relief pitchers. Yates is a lefty.

"I think our versatility and athleticism are strengths," Olson said. "We have a lot of very good athletes that can all play a number of different positions and have the ability to affect the game in a lot of different areas.

"Defensively, we should be very good. Offensively, we should be able to compete top to bottom, and our athleticism should allow us to do a number of different things on the bases to help us generate runs."

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

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

BASEBALL

April 4 -- At St. Charles

April 6 -- At Pickerington Central

*April 8 -- At Hilliard Bradley

*April 10 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

BOYS LACROSSE

*April 4 -- Home vs. Delaware

April 7 -- At Pittsburgh Mount Lebanon

*April 9 -- At Hilliard Bradley

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 4 -- At Delaware

April 6 -- At Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame

*April 9 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

*April 10 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

SOFTBALL

*April 4 -- At Delaware

*April 8 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin

*April 10 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

BOYS TENNIS

April 4 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome

April 8 -- Home vs. DeSales

*April 9 -- At Delaware

April 10 -- At Wellington

TRACK & FIELD

April 6 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North

April 8 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

*League contest