Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Lions softball squad working to make up for lost time
According to Gahanna Lincoln softball coach Jim Campolo, one of the downsides to not having a 2020 season is the impact it’s having on this year’s senior class.
In addition to not getting a junior season, which for many is the first time they play a key varsity role, the players also didn’t get to learn from the 2020 seniors.
“We have three kids with varsity experience,” Campolo said. “What you’ve lost is not just last year’s seniors, but you lost (last year’s) juniors having the ability to see what it means to be a leader. Every kid basically lost a year of growing. Our seniors are trying to learn how to be senior leaders.”
The Lions have a pair of experienced players near the top of their lineup in seniors Kelsey Cripe (CF) and Dani Shoulders (1B).
The other seniors are Olivia Zeltman, who is expected to play right field, and pitcher Claire Malling.
Sophomore Ella Esterby is a power pitcher who figures to log many of the team’s key innings, with junior Lexi Berry also on the pitching staff.
Berry is part of a junior class that also features Lilly Campbell (3B), Cayla Farbizo (LF) and Juju Morris, an outfielder who has been nursing a finger injury.
Sophomore Kirnan Bailey is expected to bat leadoff and play shortstop, with sophomores Allie Kovacevich (2B) and Nicole Waters (C) also in the lineup.
Juniors Regan Brown and Lindsey Linker, sophomore Sarah Carr and freshmen Mathe Bailey and Lola Campbell each could see time in a variety roles.
Under Campolo, who is in his 20th season, Gahanna won its 10th Division I district title in 12 years in 2019 before losing to Mount Vernon 8-5 in a regional semifinal to finish 17-10.
Gahanna remains in the OCC-Ohio Division, which now includes Westerville Central, a state semifinalist in 2019.
“They’ve worked really hard to come back,” Campolo said. “They’re trying to get some type of chemistry, which is difficult. As we mature, we’re going to be pretty good, but I think we’ll have growing pains early on. … This sophomore class is extremely talented and there are some good freshmen.”
•Coach: Jim Campolo, 20th season
•Next game: April 8 vs. Mount Vernon
•Key athletes: Kirnan Bailey, Lexi Berry, Lilly Campbell, Kelsey Cripe, Ella Esterby, Allie Kovacevich, Dani Shoulders, Nicole Waters and Olivia Zeltman
Baseball team to rely
on pitching depth
Baseball coach Mike Shade feels like he’s “almost starting over” because of how different things have seemed this spring.
One thing that has remained a constant throughout much of Shade’s 29-year tenure is the program usually has pitching depth.
The only returning player who was a key contributor in 2019, when the Lions were Division I district runners-up and went 19-8, is senior pitcher Zach Marzetz. He started the district semifinal that season.
Of the 21 players this year, nearly half could see time on the mound.
“We’ve got a lot of arms,” Shade said. “It’s going to be hard to get everybody innings.”
Marzetz also plays in the outfield. Senior Carter Barnes also should be one of the team’s top pitchers, along with senior Cameron Lewis (P/3B) and juniors Maddox Burnworth (P/OF) and Garrett Helsel (P/1B).
Senior Trey Burger is starting at shortstop, with senior Tyler Robinson (SS/2B) and juniors Brady Reed (2B) and Devon Swenson (2B) also seeing time as middle infielders.
Senior Charlie Pierce is another pitching option who should see time at third base.
Juniors Noah Amos, Nick Hoerig and John Nehm and sophomore Adam Buerger are options at pitcher and in the outfield.
Seniors Jordan Daniels (CF) and Bryan Von Moegen (C/DH) and junior Brenden Phillips (1B/C) figure to fill key spots in the lineup.
Juniors Julian Alamis (OF), Brady Broshar (C), Grady Hudson (P/OF) and Hunter Westby (C/OF) also should contribute.
Gahanna went 10-5 to finish second in the OCC-Ohio in 2019 behind Lancaster (12-3). New Albany, which beat the Lions 1-0 in a district final that season, is new to the league.
“It’s been wonderful (playing this spring),” Shade said. “A lot of players that had varsity experience last year were guys that we lost, but it’s been good and it’s been fun. We’ve got some kids that have a pretty good grasp of the game of baseball and they’re just getting up to the speed of the varsity level.”
•Coach: Mike Shade, 29th season
•Next game: April 8 at Teays Valley
•Key athletes: Carter Barnes, Trey Burger, Maddox Burnworth, Jordan Daniels, Grant Helsel, Cameron Lewis, Zach Marzetz and Tyler Robinson
excited for return
During a 2019 season in which it reached a Division I East Region semifinal, put together a 21-match winning streak and won the OCC-Ohio at 14-0, the boys volleyball team had a pair of sophomores serving in key roles.
Now seniors, setter Logan Burrell and right-side hitter McCord Riegler provide the backbone for what 17th-year coach Mike Sage hopes is another strong season.
The Lions improved from 15-10 in 2018 to 22-4 in 2019.
“You truly never know what you were missing until it was gone,” Sage said. “We were able to get back on the court for a scrimmage exactly one year to the day that our season was postponed and eventually canceled. The excitement was amazing. We have all the pieces to be a top team this year.”
Burrell set a program record with 633 assists in 2019, and Riegler was one of the leaders offensively. All of the Lions’ other key players were seniors that season.
Seniors Jackson Duebner and Conner Tilton are outside hitters, and senior Jason Raymond and junior A’me Baccus are middle hitters.
Seniors Mitchell Ledbetter and Noah Palmer are working as defensive specialists.
Senior Tyler Monk and junior J.J. Vandermark figure to see action at several spots.
“These boys work very hard, and now we just have to put the puzzle together,” Sage said. “We should be contending for the OCC title and hopefully even the regional title this year, but with a year that you never know what to expect, we have to be ready for anything.”
•Coach: Mike Sage, 17th season
•Next match: April 8 at Pickerington Central
•Key athletes: A’me Baccus, Logan Burrell, Jackson Duebner, Mitchell Ledbetter, Noah Palmer, Jason Raymond, McCord Riegler and Conner Tilton