Watterson Roundup: Eagles baseball team looks to build on past success

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Noah Grayem dives back to first base during a home scrimmage against Whetstone on March 24. Grayem is one of the top returnees for the Eagles. A senior infielder and pitcher, he hit .308 with 19 RBI in 2019.

A history filled with success is something Watterson baseball coach Jeff Boulware hopes will provide a foundation as he begins his tenure this spring. 

Boulware inherited a program that had been coached by Scott Manahan from 1992-2007 and 2011-19. 

During each of Manahan’s final three seasons before he retired, the Eagles were Division II district runners-up. They finished 21-7 in 2019. 

Boulware, a 1998 Watterson graduate who coached Worthington Kilbourne to a 74-74 record from 2010-15 before serving as an assistant under Manahan from 2017-19, took over in June 2019 but didn’t get to lead the Eagles on the field last year because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the season. 

“With all the negatives surrounding the pandemic, one of the things we sure have learned is to value the opportunities we get,” Boulware said. “Our players and coaches are very excited to start the season.” 

Seniors Noah Grayem (INF/P), Noah Gruver (3B/P), Joe Hite (P/1B) and Max McCann (C/OF) and juniors Matthew Monesi (1B/P) and Dominic Orsini (OF/P) should lead the way. 

Grayem hit .308 with 19 RBI and pitched in three games in 2019. 

Juniors Cole Graney and Brian Zetzer, sophomore Ryan Rudzinski and freshmen Nick Kudika and A.J. McAninch should join Grayem, Gruver, Monesi and Orsini on the mound. 

Grayem also plays shortstop, with Graney at third base, Monesi at first, Rudzinski at second and McCann starting at catcher. 

In the outfield, Orsini is in right, sophomore Charlie Bernotas is in center and sophomore Brandon Trout is in left. 

Junior Jack Byrne provides depth at second base and in the outfield, with junior Lance Hall serving as the backup catcher and as an outfielder and junior Ryan Kelly splitting time between first base and the outfield. 

“We really like this group,” Boulware said. “There is a lot of talent but very little experience. The expectations at Bishop Watterson are always high and we look forward to the challenge of 2021.” 

BASEBALL 

Coach: Jeff Boulware, first season 

Next game: April 9 at Cincinnati Indian Hill 

Key athletes: Charlie Bernotas, Cole Graney, Noah Grayem, Noah Gruver, Joe Hite, Max McCann, Matthew Monesi, Dominic Orsini and Brandon Trout 

Softball team plans 

for more success

Despite being seeded 15th for the Division I district tournament in 2019, the softball team reached a district final for the first time since 2013. It lost 4-0 to ninth-seeded Gahanna to finish 17-10. 

The Eagles had six seniors that season and had Emily Manahan step down at the end of 2019, but new coach Shawn Bray believes his program has the depth to continue what it had been building. 

“Our (participation) numbers are phenomenal, with 16 on (junior varsity) and 14 on varsity,” Bray said. “Everybody that was supposed to have been on last year’s previous roster are back outside of the ones that graduated, so it looks really good. I’m impressed with our young freshmen that have come in.” 

Bray previously coached at the travel level and with the Jonathan Alder junior high program.

Watterson should be led by senior catcher Rachel Reuter, senior third baseman Caroline Peck, senior left fielder Natalie Funge and junior first baseman Anna Emswiler. Reuter hit .377 with a team-high four home runs and 17 RBI in 2019. 

Junior Amelia Pepe should see time as a middle infielder and be one of the team’s top pitchers along with junior Julia Hall and freshman Mary Gamble. Hall is an Olentangy transfer. 

Freshman Elizabeth Hohlefelder will be at shortstop, with freshman Alex Mosholder seeing time at second base and center field. 

Juniors Kat McGrath and Sydney McKinney should be starters in the outfield, with sophomore Kenzie Jones (OF/designated player) also expected to be one of the top hitters. 

Junior Samantha Wehrle is another option at first base and freshman Sophia Siles will serve in a utility role. 

“I’ve been telling some people that we’ll be sneaky good,” Bray said. “We’ll play some really good defense and we hit well, so I’m kind of excited, especially for our youth coming up and for our eighth-graders coming up. We’ve got a bright future ahead of us.” 

SOFTBALL 

Coach: Shawn Bray, first season 

Next game: April 8 at Hilliard Bradley 

Key athletes: Anna Emswiler, Natalie Funge, Elizabeth Hohlefelder, Kenzie Jones, Kat McGrath, Sydney McKinney, Caroline Peck, Amelia Pepe and Rachel Reuter 

Volleyball team 

to have new look 

Of the 10 players on the boys volleyball team, senior setter Jake Maziarz is the only key returnee from the 2019 squad that was the Division II state runner-up. 

“It feels like a brand-new team between the down time and the fact that our roster has changed so much since our last (match) in 2019,” coach Ryan Thompson said. “About half of our entire roster is first-year players and we only have two returning varsity letterwinners from the last played season.” 

Senior outside hitters Nick Isabelle and Mitchell Musuraca should lead the offense. 

Senior Dominic Contini and junior Luke Niese are at middle blocker, with senior Nick Whitsett at both middle hitter and outside hitter and junior John Meyers at opposite hitter. 

Junior Frank Gill is at libero, with freshman Ryan Pardi serving as a defensive specialist. 

Sophomore Michael Kirkpatrick provides depth at setter as well as at opposite hitter. 

Watterson went 17-10 in 2019, including snapping an 11-match losing streak against St. Charles by beating the Cardinals for the East Region championship. 

In the state final, the Eagles lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 25-18, 25-17, 25-21. It was their first appearance at state since 2014, when they also were runners-up.  

“Defensively, our primary focus is always on serve-receive,” Thompson said. “If we can’t serve-receive at an elite level, we don’t have the ability to control the match. 

“I’m very excited for this group of boys to get a season at all. With so many unknowns, it’s hard to set specific expectations until we see a couple other teams on the court, but I definitely see a group of kids ready to compete.” 

BOYS VOLLEYBALL 

Coach: Ryan Thompson, fourth season 

Next match: April 8 at Hartley  

Key athletes: Dominic Contini, Nick Isabelle, Jake Maziarz, Mitchell Musuraca and Nick Whitsett 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek