The Westerville North High School baseball team grew up in the offseason and got out to a fast start this spring.
After going 10-18 overall and 4-11 in the OCC-Buckeye Division last season, the Warriors learned from those growing pains and were 4-1 before playing Central Crossing on April 2.
"I think we didn't have that much experience last year and now we have the confidence to go out and beat teams," said Mason Lowder, a senior pitcher who was 1-2 with 4.82 ERA in 24 2/3 innings last spring. "We have great chemistry and have been able to win ballgames."
Lowder, who also plays first base, is one of six position players back from last season. The others are senior Adam Stefanelli (special mention all-league; .307 batting average) at second base, senior Brandon Bond at third, senior Andrew Dellasanta (.302) in left field, junior Auri Dover in center and junior Kraig Lowe at catcher.
"We were very young with a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors playing for us," said coach Sean Ring, who is in his 10th season. "We only lost four players so we bring back a lot and even more guys that had a lot of reps for us.
"I would say coupling experience with athleticism helps. We have a lot of speed, and we can put pressure on the defense and make plays in the field."
Juniors Harper Flynn and Nolan Todys and sophomore Ty O'Hearn play all over the field for the Warriors, who open OCC-Buckeye play Friday, April 5, at Westerville Central.
"I think we have good production up and down the lineup, and we have great experience and a lot of returning (letterwinners)," said Stefanelli, who has committed to Trine University in Angola, Indiana. "We like to put pressure on defenses and create chaos on the basepaths. We want to put them in situations that they are not used to being in."
Ring said the Warriors are looking for answers on the mound. Lowder and Flynn are the top arms with junior Cooper Crawford joining the program after playing at Worthington Christian the past two seasons. O'Hearn and Lowe also will pitch with Dover as a late-inning reliever.
"Our biggest question is our starting pitching because we lost our top two arms," Ring said, referring to 2018 graduates Chad Gordish and Jack Murgas. "It's up to some of our guys to step up and fill that role, and it could be any number of guys. We have thrown well, though it's been in a limited sample size."
Softball team starts strongly for new coach
The softball team won its first four games under first-year coach Brian Anderson and was 6-1 after defeating Canal Winchester 14-4 in six innings April 1.
Anderson came to the Warriors from Whitehall, where he spent six seasons. The Rams went 13-8 last season and won their first league title since 2000, tying tied London for the MSL-Ohio championship at 7-1.
North was 13-14 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye last season under second-year coach Caitie Fackler.
"It's been a huge learning experience being the first year," Anderson said. "We're always learning something new, and we're learning the girls' talents and where they fit."
The Warriors have four full-time starters back in senior pitcher Megan Zody, junior first baseman Marin Kalista, junior pitcher/outfielder Katie Palmer (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) and junior center fielder Chloe Yingling (special mention all-league). Junior shortstop Ceci Thomas (second-team all-league) started a portion of last season.
Senior Audrey Hollerich will start at catcher with Kalista at first, junior Emylee Preston at second, Thomas at short and junior Izzy Ceckitti at third. Sophomore Zsofia Kacsandi will be in left field with Yingling in center and Zody and senior Lexi Hagemann in right.
"I think we will be a pretty good defensive team," said Anderson, whose team opens OCC-Buckeye play Wednesday, April 10, at Central. "That's my first goal. I'm an old-school, defense-wins-championships kind of guy. We have some really good talent, two returning starting pitchers and if we can get the bats going early, we should be fine."
The Warriors opened by defeating Reynoldsburg 14-5 on March 23 before leaving for a spring-break trip to the Ripken Experience in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. They defeated Pikeville (Kentucky) 6-5 on March 25 and Claysville (Pennsylvania) McGuffey 10-0 in five innings and Collinwood (Tennessee) 15-7 on March 27.
North then lost to Medina 12-1 in five innings and defeated Tallmadge 10-5 on March 28 before defeating Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 14-1 in five innings March 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the North baseball, softball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 5 -- At Westerville Central
*April 8 -- Home vs. Central
*April 10 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 4 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
*April 4 -- At Big Walnut
*April 9 -- Home vs. Westerville South
April 5 -- At Hilliard Darby
April 6 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome and Licking Heights
April 8 -- At Gahanna
*April 10 -- At Central
April 4 -- At Dublin Coffman
April 8 -- At Delaware
*April 9 -- At Central
TRACK & FIELD
April 6 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
*April 4 -- At Central
*April 9 -- Home vs. Olentangy