The Dublin Coffman High School baseball team opened the season with 29 players on varsity, including 24 who traveled to Port Charlotte, Florida, during the final week of March.
Coach Tim Saunders, in his 32nd season, has had big rosters before and plans to utilize every player when possible.
"We've got some kids who have started specializing in positions, a couple bullpen catchers, a couple pitcher-only guys," Saunders said. "Instead of cutting down to 15 or 16 kids, it's more work on the coaches, but a couple kids over the years have surprised us. The year we won state (in 2001), we had 30 and the best feeling ever was getting 30 championship rings."
Coffman won two of its three games in Port Charlotte to open the season, beating North Port (Florida) Imagine 13-1 on March 26, losing to Punta Gorda (Florida) Charlotte 3-1 on March 27 and beating Port Charlotte Community Christian 9-1 on March 28.
The Shamrocks were 2-1 before playing Scioto on April 2 and open OCC-Central Division action Friday, April 5, at home against Hilliard Davidson.
Coffman, which finished 13-13 overall and 8-7 in the OCC-Central last season, has 18 seniors and a larger stable of talent than it did a year ago, according to Saunders.
Senior left-handers Ryan Ebeling and Luke Bartemes should be among the team's top pitchers. Last season, Ebeling went 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings and Bartemes was 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA.
Ebeling has committed to play for Ohio Wesleyan. Bartemes, who will play basketball at Lincoln Memorial, also sees time at designated hitter and first base and hit .333 with 15 RBI last season.
Senior catcher James Bartman batted .339 with 15 RBI a year ago, and senior outfielder Ryan Moriarty hit .300.
Other pitchers include senior left-handers Matt Dorenkott and Anthony Villella, senior right-handers Ben Hall and Matt Hunter and junior right-hander Ben Sarver.
Sophomore Nathan Kassis joins Bartman at catcher.
Seniors Bryce Hostetler (1B/P), Grant Guetle (2B), Phillip Perez (SS/P) and Spencer Eiselt (3B) are among the top infielders.
Dorenkott plays in center field when he's not pitching, senior Alex Dluzynski is in left field and senior Ethan Hetzel is in right field when not on the mound.
Juniors Jaiden Proper (OF/P) and Ethan Simpson (SS/3B) and sophomore Michael Dennis (2B) also are playing key roles.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Hayden Grundei (OF), Mike McCarthy (1B), C.J. Rothermund (OF) and Matt Vick (P) and juniors Brock Baldridge (OF), Connor Coyan (P/3B), Dawson Drouhard (P/OF), Trenton Majka (P/OF), Jacob Rust (P/OF) and Evan Thompson (1B).
"This is one of our stronger teams," Saunders said. "We've got a strong senior class and are going to start a senior at every position. It's a pretty talented group. I look for us to get closer to 20 wins and look for us to be a competitor to get to the (Division I) regionals and be in the running for a league title."
Expectations increase for softball team
Sixth-year softball coach Scott Tillman likes the growth he's seeing in the program from top to bottom.
With that has come hopes of improving on last season, when the Shamrocks finished 13-12 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Central.
"I had 44 (players) come out, and the future looks bright," Tillman said. "There's some really talented freshmen in this class. With our girls, their goal is chasing titles. They want to compete for the OCC (title). We've never won it in Dublin Coffman history, but we think we're turning the corner."
The Shamrocks opened the season in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, beating Fairview (Pennsylvania) 12-1 and McMurray (Pennsylvania) Peters Township 12-2 on March 24, beating Chardon 3-2 and losing to West Chicago 4-3 on March 25 and losing to Perry 12-7 and beating Greenville (Tennessee) 7-6 on March 26.
The Shamrocks were 4-3 after losing to Olentangy Liberty 13-2 on April 1 and open OCC-Central action Wednesday, April 10, at home against Davidson.
Junior pitcher Kelsi Anderson has returned after batting .328 and going 10-9 with a 2.66 ERA and 129 strikeouts in the circle last season.
Senior Maddi Luke and junior Lizzie Werth are other pitchers.
Senior Marley McDonald returns at catcher after hitting .481 with 30 RBI last season and senior Caroline Stukey returns at second base after batting .318 with a team-high 28 runs scored.
Junior Rylee Anspach hit .500 last season while playing third base but is expected to see most of her time at shortstop this spring. Sophomore Taylor Airy is playing at first base and sophomore Allie Kelly is at third base.
Senior Sophie Maggs will see action at both first base and in the outfield, while junior Anna Aman provides middle infield depth and junior Julia Slater is serving as a utility player.
Sophomore Haley Newland, who hit .313 last season, is in center field and bats leadoff.
Seniors Avery Ketch and Anitra Herring Starks and junior Olivia Castle are others in the outfield, and junior Michaela McCreavy is a backup catcher who also will see time as the designated player.
The only key player from last season who is not back with the team is senior Sophie Mitchell, who hit .346 while playing in the outfield and at third base.
Coffman played Lancaster on April 2 at home and plays host to Watkins Memorial on Thursday, April 4. Last season, the Golden Gales finished 24-4 and the Warriors went 17-5.
"It's a fairly competitive non-league schedule, and that's what we want," Tillman said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 5 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
April 6 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg (DH)
*April 8 -- At Davidson
*April 10 -- At Westland
*April 4 -- At Davidson
April 6 -- Home vs. Loveland
*April 8 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
*April 4 -- Home vs. Davidson
*April 9 -- At Pickerington Central
April 10 -- At Hartley
April 4 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial
April 5 -- Home vs. DeSales
April 8 -- At Big Walnut
April 9 -- At Delaware
*April 10 -- Home vs. Davidson
April 4 -- Home vs. Westerville North
April 8 -- At Wellington
*April 9 -- Home vs. Davidson
TRACK & FIELD
April 9 -- Home vs. Scioto