Hartley Roundup: Hawks boys volleyball players excited to start program

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior outside hitter Matthew Franz is the top player for the first-year Hartley boys volleyball program. He is the nephew of coach Doug Franz, who also is an assistant in the Hawks girls program.

Knowing he has been an assistant coach for the Hartley girls volleyball program for seven years made Doug Franz an obvious audience for a few boys at the school who expressed interest in having a team this spring. 

For the first time since the mid-1990s, the Hawks are fielding a team, with 12 boys participating. 

In the first match of the program’s return, Hartley lost 25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23 to Northland on March 26. 

“I had about three or four guys that had some experience, with a lot of middle school experience and one that had high school experience, and they came to me and were like, ‘Coach, we’re thinking about getting a team together,’ because they knew I’d coached,” Franz said. “That’s what got it started. These guys wanted to do it and they’re a great group of guys.” 

Franz, who previously served for one season as Newark’s girls coach in addition to being an assistant with the DeSales girls program, has one player with extensive club experience in senior outside hitter Matthew Franz, who is his nephew. 

Camaran Griffith (middle hitter/outside hitter), De’Andre Hodge (right-side hitter) and Chay Rossing (middle hitter) are the other seniors. 

Sophomore Luke Navarro is at setter, with junior Gabe Clark working as an outside hitter and sophomore A.J. Lentz as another middle hitter. 

Junior Kendall Day, sophomores Colin Callahan, Isaiah Gessese and Matios Zeleke and freshman Andrew Bassetti are defensive specialists. 

Matthew Franz, who previously competed at the club level for Vanguard and currently plays for the A2 club program, is planning to compete collegiately for Wabash. 

“Our seniors are the ones we’re looking to (as leaders), but we play together and every time we go out and play, we’re just getting better,” coach Franz said. “It’s going to take a season but we’ve just got to work through it to start at one level and get to another one.” 

BOYS VOLLEYBALL  

Coach: Doug Franz, first season  

Next match: April 8 vs. Watterson 

Key athletes: Gabe Clark, Matthew Franz, Camaran Griffith, De’Andre Hodge, A.J. Lentz, Luke Navarro and Chay Rossing 

Smith excited for 

softball prospects 

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2017, Allie Smith returned to her high school alma mater to serve as an assistant with the softball team the next year. 

Smith, a 2013 graduate who started in center field for Hartley, is hoping to help revive a program that went 6-18 in 2019 before the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The Hawks went 20-10 and were Division II district runners-up during her junior season in 2012. 

“This team has strong roots and I’m proud to say they’re my roots, too,” Smith said. “I’m grateful to play any role I can in our community. 

“Coming back to the field after the long break has been exhilarating, nerve-wracking, but mostly joyful. … In my preseason meetings with the players, each one of them expressed a desire not only to compete and learn but also just enjoy whatever time they get on the field and the time they get to spend together this year.” 

The top returnee is senior shortstop Kami Kortokrax, an Ohio State commit who hit .626 with six home runs, six triples and 42 RBI in 2019. She played every inning of each game her first two prep seasons. 

Senior Caitlin Smith (P/OF) and junior Riley Mann (1B/3B) are others with previous varsity experience. 

Sophomores Reese Beatty and Becca LeMay will be the team’s top pitchers. 

The other sophomores are Kimora Russell (OF) and Rachel Thompson (OF/INF). 

Freshmen Faith Campbell, Ava McKee and Cassidy Smith all could see action at catcher, with Campbell and Smith also likely to see time at middle infielder and in the outfield. 

Freshmen Chloe Best (INF/OF), Layla Gardner-Buchanan (OF/INF), Tatum Hoover (OF/INF) and Ashley Vinas (OF) are others looking for playing time. 

“Our players are all very versatile and with so much uncertainty still surrounding every new day, I’m proud of how a lot of our players can and have stepped up into new positions,” coach Smith said. “We have a very young team after graduating six seniors last year, so I’m excited to see which players break out and stand out this season.” 

SOFTBALL 

Coach: Allie Smith, first season  

Next game: April 8 vs. Reynoldsburg  

Key athletes: Reese Beatty, Kami Kortokrax, Becca LeMay, Riley Mann and Caitlin Smith 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek