Moments after losing at Grove City in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 14, first-year Westland High School baseball coach Brent Shannon was quick to point to the positives of the season.
The Cougars finished 9-17 overall for their most wins since 2003, when they went 11-12.
Seeded 38th for the tournament, Westland saw its season end in a five-inning 10-0 loss to the 16th-seeded Greyhounds.
Westland also earned its first OCC-Central Division win since 2016. Its 3-1 victory at Hilliard Davidson on April 24 snapped a 38-game league losing streak.
The Cougars went 1-14 in the league to finish sixth behind champion Upper Arlington (13-2).
"I never like to say I'm satisfied with anything I do," Shannon said. "I know there are things I can do better, but it's definitely something to build on. Nine wins (are the) most since 2003. We were shooting for 10. That was a goal this year and a goal for next year. I'd always like to win some league games. That's always a goal."
Westland loses nine players to graduation, including Zach Mon (SS/C/P), who led the team in batting average (.369) and runs (16) and was second in RBI (12).
"Zach has done so much for this program," Shannon said. "He's put a ton of time and work in. He's going to excel at the next level. He has a high baseball IQ and he does well in high pressure situations."
Mon will play at Lourdes University in Sylvania.
"We got better mentally and physically," Mon said. "We had more workouts. Coach Shannon made us better overall with everything he did for us. He made us grow up and be men. He took care of our family on the field. ... It felt good to get wins under our belt, especially my senior year. Playing here definitely helped get me ready for college mentally and physically."
The returnees should be led by freshman Franklin Ramirez (SS/3B/P), who batted .367 with a team-high 26 RBI, six doubles and two triples. He tied senior Bryce Murray (OF) and sophomore LeAndro Campusano (OF) for third in runs with 13.
Senior Billy Holland (OF/P) batted .316, junior Kyle Bowles (2B/P) was second in runs with 14 and sophomore Drew Curtiss (C/1B) added 11 RBI.
On the mound, senior Nevada Swackhammer (OF/P) was 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA, 19 strikeouts and eight walks in 14 1/3 innings.
Senior DeShawn Evans (P), who was in his first season with the program, was 2-0 with a 9.27 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 25 walks in 22 2/3 innings.
Ramirez was 2-2 with a 3.78 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 11 walks in 33 1/3 innings.
Others eligible to return are juniors Cory Daugherty (OF), Starlin DeJesus (OF/3B/P) and Trey Holmes (OF), sophomore Brendan Gordon (2B/OF/P) and freshman Brady Gray (C/P).
"We return a lot of guys," Shannon said. "We lose nine seniors. It's definitely exciting coming back to this after a nine-win season. We want to get 10 next year. It's exciting times and I can't thank the seniors enough for all the time they put in."
Track squads compete at district
The boys and girls track and field teams competed in the Division I, district 2 meet May 14, 15 and 18 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional Wednesday, May 22, and Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four in each event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
In the OCC-Central meet May 9 and 11 at Davidson, the boys finished sixth (6 points) behind Dublin Coffman (151), Davidson (150), UA (93), Marysville (67) and Central Crossing (54).
Bakar Dabo was fourth in the shot put (44 feet, 6 inches) and Abdi Aden was fifth in the long jump (18-11 1/2).
For the girls, Aja Nathans, Jordyn Anderson, Taylor Gullian and Lisette Sevilla were fifth in the 3,200-meter relay (11 minutes, 57.73 seconds). Nya Gayle, Sofia Rodriguez, Jemiere Wyatt and Brenna Gilliam were fifth in the 400 relay (57.03) and 800 relay (2:01.44).
The girls finished sixth (6) behind Davidson (189), Coffman (136), UA (114), Marys-ville (74) and Central Crossing (15).