Pickerington North Roundup: Panthers baseball team excited despite roster overhaul

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
North's Brandon Miller delivers a pitch against visiting Olentangy Orange during a scrimmage March 23. Miller is one of only three seniors on the Panthers, who have no returnees from their 2019 team that went 18-10.

Underscoring the turnover and relative youth on the Pickerington North baseball team’s roster was the fact that the Panthers’ home scrimmage March 23 against Olentangy Orange marked the first time any of their 13 players had been in a game on that field under the leadership of 15th-year coach Tim Thomas.

Despite having no returnees from the 2019 team that went 18-10 overall and 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division and advanced to a Division I district semifinal, Thomas applauded his players for their versatility and eagerness to learn and called his coaching staff “excited.”

“You get a group like this every so often. It’s a baseball group. We don’t have anybody who’s 6(-foot)-5, 230 (pounds). We have guys who are 5-6, 145,” Thomas said. “We couldn’t be more excited and just looking forward to this season after the past three or four weeks. From where we started in tryouts to now, the level of understanding is unbelievable. We’re so young, but they’re learning and learning.”

The senior class consists of Peyton Imboden (P), Jon Kelchner (P/1B) and Brandon Miller (P/OF). The junior class – the team’s largest – is comprised of Eli Coppess (OF), Troy Cruse (OF), Reid Fleming (OF/INF), Kyle Koehler (P/1B/3B), Kirby Shaffery (P/1B) and Ethan Yurko (P/C/3B).

Also looking to contribute are sophomores Harry Kreinbrink (P/OF) and Adam Sadler (P/INF/C) and freshmen Baylee Becker (P/INF) and Brett Madison (P/INF).

In an example of the team’s versatility, Becker and Madison played shortstop and second base against Orange. Sadler, who normally will be at shortstop, was catching and Yurko – who generally will catch – played third base.

“Almost everybody has two or three positions,” Thomas said. “They’re learning the game from different positions, how it looks different from the outfield to shortstop to first base. That’s great for a young team.”

BASEBALL

Coach: Tim Thomas, 15th season

Next game: April 5, at Lancaster

Key athletes: Reid Fleming, Peyton Imboden, Kyle Koehler, Adam Sadler and Ethan Yurko

Young softball team

competitive, driven

After a program-record 10 graduations last year, the softball team is the youngest it’s been in coach Sarah Looker’s nine seasons with one senior, one junior, five sophomores and six freshmen on varsity.

Only senior outfielder Khloe Bolin has previous varsity experience, and her sophomore season was cut short by an injury to her right arm.

“They’re a very driven, motivated group,” said Looker, whose team went 8-14 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio two years ago. “They want to compete and we’re eager to feed them all the information and get them up to speed on the expectations on the level of competition they’re going to see. 

“You just have to measure (growth) by how quickly they’re picking up the system and how quickly they can adapt to changes and level of play, learning situations and how quickly they change at the varsity level.”

Sophomore Reagan Coffey is expected to be the Panthers’ primary pitcher, with freshman Aubrey Brown catching.

Freshman outfielders Lela Davis and Maycie Duwe will flank Bolin in center.

The Panthers also feature junior Katie Scheffel (P/1B), sophomores Kylie Bolin (OF), Madison Cox (2B/SS), Gracie Kearney (P/INF) and Abby Zananiri (INF) and freshmen Avery Hillerich (1B), Sabrina Jensen (INF) and Sydney Logan (INF).

“We’re seeing a lot of movement trying to get girls settled in and get them experience in different positions, so that way they can get used to the expectations and level of play,” Looker said. “We’ll have to provide Reagan a lot of support defensively, but we have to provide the runs as well to take some pressure off.”

SOFTBALL 

Coach: Sarah Looker, ninth season

Next game: April 5, at Westerville South

Key athletes: Khloe Bolin, Aubrey Brown, Reagan Coffey, Maycie Duwe and Katie Scheffel

Veterans to pace

girls lacrosse team

Several returnees, including four-year starting goalie Erin Boder and a promising midfield led by senior Sydney Hopkins, juniors Emma Rittman and Emma Townsend and sophomore Lydia Pope, are creating high expectations for the girls lacrosse team as it tries to improve on a 13-5 season in 2019.

Boder, a Lynchburg recruit, also is one of one two college recruits on the team.

Attacker Emma Boder, Erin’s twin sister, will play at Landers.

Sophomore Alexa Carte is Erin Boder’s backup.

“Our strengths are in our goalies and our midfield,” fourth-year coach Christine Miller said. “Erin has a lot of experience and wins under her belt. Both goalies have been off to an amazing start. We also have an experienced midfield. Our middies are strong at getting to the goal one-on-one.”

Junior Arden Santa is expected to lead the defense, a unit that also includes classmate Ryona Gilmore.

“Our defense is growing stronger and learning to talk more. Our attackers are learning to work together and help each other get to goal (and) our midfield is learning to transition the ball successfully and to drop in quickly,” Miller said. “In addition, we have a great deal of brand-new players, many of them multisport student-athletes, on our team this year, which gives us the opportunity to grow the sport.”

Three Panthers are college recruits in other sports. Midfielder Sydney Hopkins will swim at Barton, defender Jada Moultair will play basketball at Owens Community College and midfielder Jackie Norris will play soccer at Indiana Wesleyan.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Christine Miller, fourth season

Next game: April 6, at Central

Key athletes: Emma Boder, Erin Boder, Sydney Hopkins, Emma Rittman and Arden Santa

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave