Upper Arlington Roundup: Pitching depth to benefit Golden Bears baseball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington senior shortstop Philip Vilardo is one of two key players back from the 2019 team that reached a regional final and finished 21-10 overall.

Two current Upper Arlington baseball players regularly saw time on varsity in 2019 as the Golden Bears won their first Division I district championship since 2010 and fell one win short of their first state tournament in 29 years.

Three more earned what second-year coach Sam Clark called “spot appearances,” but all the players will be entrusted with upholding those standards and making their own imprint on the program.

“We told them all year long (in 2019) that what you leave behind is your legacy and how the younger guys will carry themselves when you’re not here. Just being around the guys, that group left a great legacy and these guys have picked up the torch and run with it,” said Clark, whose team lost 5-3 to Hilliard Darby in a 2019 regional final to finish 21-10 overall. “We’re excited to see how everything is put together on the field.”

Seniors Joe Hendrix (C) and Philip Vilardo (SS) are back from the team that also won the OCC-Central Division at 13-2. 

Classmates Dominic Chiavaroli (P), Jackson Evans (1B) and Tommy Hammer (P), who also were on the roster that season, are among 16 seniors and part of the pitching staff that Clark said is the deepest part of the team.

That group also includes seniors Michael Chieffo, Rafe McClure, Chris Schueler and Grayson Thompson and sophomore Michael Glaser.

“We really have a lot of options,” Clark said. “These are guys who have all been very consistent. We know what we’re going to get when they toe the rubber.”

Chieffo is a West Liberty recruit. McClure has signed with Washington & Jefferson, senior Nick Porter (OF) will play at Owens Community College and Vilardo is an Adrian recruit.

Schueler also plays third base, and Thompson will see time at second.

Also vying for spots are seniors Will Henry (OF/P), Christopher Jackson (INF), Charlie Lindeboom (OF) and Colin Scott (C) and juniors Tyler Cannon (INF), Kuyper Lashutka (INF/OF/P), Simon Monnin (OF/P), Max Robins (OF) and Alec Whetsell (INF).

BASEBALL

•Coach: Sam Clark, second season

•Next game: April 8 vs. Dublin Jerome at Tremont Elementary

•Key athletes: Dominic Chiavaroli, Jackson Evans, James Hayek, Joe Hendrix and Philip Vilardo

Softball coach Terry Streng has four returnees from the 2019 team that finished 17-11 overall and was a district runner-up.

Softball coach sees

experience, smarts

Four members of the softball team that finished as a Division I district runner-up two years ago return in seniors Avery Cobb (C/P), Sophie Leohner (SS/P) and Maxine McCraw (P/SS) and junior Caroline Langmeyer (2B/P/OF).

McCraw is the primary pitcher for the third consecutive season and will alternate positions with Leohner when not pitching.

Two sophomores whom third-year coach Terry Streng said would have started last year are back in Paige Parker (1B) and Audrey Szollosi (CF).

“I have a lot of girls with great instincts for softball,” said Streng, whose team went 17-11 overall and 7-3 in the league in 2019. “They have really good awareness and understanding of the game. There are things happening even when you’re standing around when it comes to the situational things, who’s hitting, how many on base. If you have to think about that when the ball’s hit, it’s already too late.”

Streng said sophomores Drew Carlton (3B) and Marlee Jupp (2B) also were set to be on varsity as freshmen. Jupp will miss some of the season because of an ACL injury suffered during basketball season.

Also on varsity are juniors Eve Hartranft (1B), Megan McKinney (OF) and Sophie Schweisthal (LF), sophomores Ayva Lasley (P/INF) and Lilja Reynolds (C/OF) and freshman Melanie Amann (C/P/OF).

“There’s a lot of competition,” Streng said. “We’re strong up the middle. If we play some defense and score a couple runs, we’ll win our fair share of games even though we lack experience.”

SOFTBALL

•Coach: Terry Streng, third season

•Next game: April 8 vs. Marysville at Tremont Elementary

•Key athletes: Avery Cobb, Caroline Langmeyer, Sophie Leohner, Maxine McCraw and Audrey Szollosi

Versatility guiding

boys volleyball team

Two players who figured to play prominent roles for the boys volleyball team last season return in juniors Titus Harper (setter) and Rory Brennan (right-side hitter/opposite hitter).

None of this season’s players were on varsity in 2019, leading second-year coach Chris Van Arsdale to say he feels like the team is starting over similar to in his first year.

“It’s one surprise after another and so far, the kids have been fantastic,” Van Arsdale said. “They’re a coachable group. It seems like we’re starting new again. We graduated eight (in 2020), and there are only two guys from that group who are back. They’re in the program and they’ve played, but they’re new to varsity.”

UA has just nine players. Five are seniors in Harrison Frenken (outside hitter/back-row hitter/opposite hitter), Trey Kowalke (outside hitter), Ian McCormick (middle hitter), Nick Ortli (outside hitter/back-row hitter) and Will Sawyer (outside hitter).

They are joined by juniors Hudson Emmons (defensive specialist/libero) and Grant Overmyer (middle hitter).

Van Arsdale said that versatility will be especially important given the small roster.

“I like our athleticism. We’re not big and we’re a bit raw but the guys love to be coached, they go after the ball and they’re aggressive,” Van Arsdale said. “We can slot some of these guys in at a lot of different places.”

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

•Coach: Chris Van Arsdale, second season

•Next match: April 10 at Delaware with DeSales

•Key athletes: Rory Brennan, Hudson Emmons, Harrison Frenken, Titus Harper and Nick Ortli

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave