Jared Askins returns for his seventh season as Piqua boys basketball coach.
The Indians were 13-14 overall last year and 5-5 in the GWOC North.
Graduating off that team were Noah Gertner, Michael Anderson, Corbin Meckstroth, Brayden Dohme, Josh Homer and Austin Hall.
Returning letterwinners include seniors Derrick Gullett, Jarrett Toopes, Noah Lyman and Rupert Delacruz; juniors Travis Smith and Blake Wright and sophomores Derek Hite and Austin Davis.
“With eight returning lettermen, we are excited to compete for the top half of the GWOC North,” Askins said. “With a strong finish to last season we are looking to build on our experienced pitching and defense to keep us in games early in the spring. With our first six games on the road, we will be tested early this spring.”
Shane Snyder returns for his sixth season as coach.
The Railroaders were 3-18 last season.
Graduating off that team were Craig Wyan, Trey Higgins, Pat Wolf, Collin Hamilton, Rayce Grigg and Zane Hoelscher.
Returning letterwinners include juniors Mason Justice, Bryant Byers and Walker Branson and sophomore Andrew Branson.
“While we have no seniors this season, we return with an athletic group who have varsity experience,” Snyder said. “That is something we missed last season.”
Mitch Hirsch returns for his 14th season as Covington coach.
The Buccs were 14-14 overall last year and tied for second in the CCC.
Graduating off that team were Ty Boehringer, Austin Lefeld, Drew Schaurer and Sam Sherman.
Returning letterwinners include seniors James Grilliot, Jared Williams and Levin Winn; and juniors Nathan Blei, Christian Nelson and Tristan Sowers.
“We will go as far as our pitching takes us,” Hirsch said. “We lost some good seniors last year but we have some good players coming back. Pitching is always the key. We play a tough non-league schedule and our league will be more balanced this year.”
Brad Allen returns for his third season as coach.
The Wildcats were 3-23 last season.
Coach: Brad Allen
Returning letterwinners include seniors Zach Jolly, Andrew Miller, Arron Heckman and Jacob Gates; juniors Isaiah Beaver, Dylan Hensley, Kaleib Freistuhler and Sage Bryant and sophomore Noah Shoemaker.
Jolly had a 2.24 ERA last year, while Hensley batted .375.
Top newcomers include sophomores Hunter Herrick, Brad Hickerson, Cameron Via and John DiLullo and freshman Howie Ludwig.
Names, grades of top newcomers: Howie Ludwig 9 (infield, pitcher). Hunter Herrick ID (infield, outfield, pitcher), Brad Hickerson 10 (infield, pitcher), Cameron Via 10 (infield, outfield), John DiLullo 10 (infield).
“One of our strengths will be the varsity experience returning from last year’s squad with a nice balance of four seniors, four juniors, and one sophomore,” Allen said. “Another one of our strength will be our depth within our varsity roster competing for starting positions in the infield, our outfield, and our pitching staff. I am excited about what this season can bring for our veteran players as well as the baseball talent and athleticism that our incoming freshman are bringing.
“We are now in a good position number wise to have some good internal competition for starting spots on varsity and put us in a good position to compete against our non-conference and league opponents.”
Allen hopes to finish in the top half of the SCAL.
Veteran coach Dave King returns for his ninth season as Lehman baseball coach.
The Cavaliers were 26-5 last season, won the NWCC with a 14-0 record, won the sectional and won the district.
Graduating off that team were Greg Spearman, Cole Proffitt, Austin Arnold, Alex Cavinder, Nick Rourke and Joe Skelton.
Returning letterwinners include seniors Nate Bosway, Max Schutt, Stephen Monnin and Ian Smith; and juniors Dylan Arnold and Parker Riley.
“We lost a lot of talent,” King said. “This will provide many opportunities for some young players to step up and perform. We want to compete in our league and prepare for a tournament run.”
King expects Riverside and Lima Perry to field strong teams in the NWCC.
Miami East returns a number of key starters from last year’s team.
Scot Kirby, Brandon Wilson, Braxton Donaldson and Colton Purves will be the team’s pitchers, while Donaldson and Wilson will share catching duties.
Coach Barry Coomes said he anticipates Austin Rutledge and Cam Coomes being leaders in the infield, with Austin Niswonger and Mitchell Vernon anchoring the outfield.
Newton returns a wealth of talent from a team that went 21-7 last year and returns all but nine innings worth of pitching on the mound.
“A spring trip to The Perfect Game Complex in Emerson, Ga. to start the year will be a good initial test for us,” Newton coach Nathan Kopp said. “We hope to be in the top half of the Cross County Conference and have an opportunity to play for a chance to get to the district final.”
Newton’s top three pitchers all return. Senior Wade Ferrell — a second-team All-CCC selection last year — went 6-1 with a 3.25 earned run average and 56 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched a season ago. Sophomore Treg Jackson went 5-1 with a 1.82 ERA, while senior Brian Delcamp went 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA.
Juniors Troy Denlinger and Austin Evans led the team in appearances last year with 11 and 10, respectively. Both also had earned run averages less than 3.50.
Behind the plate, junior Rhett Gripe returns. He was an all-area and All-CCC first-team selection last year, batting .480 with 15 doubles and 34 RBIs. Rhett, Wade and Jackson all are starting to receive interest from college coaches, Kopp said.
The entire starting infield returns from last season for the Indians. Junior Nelson Clymer is back at first base, senior Andrew Dilts (who hit .333 last year) will play second, Ferrell (who hit .380 last year) will play shortstop when he’s not pitching and Evans is back at third base.
Delcamp — who hit .450 last year and was an all-area selection — will anchor the outfield for the Indians.
Rounding out the varsity roster for the Indians will be Ryan Mollette, Nate Zilinski, Charlie Walker, Nash Lavy, Noah Williams, Milan Bess and Grant Bayer.
Kevin Phlipot led the Russia Raiders to a final 23-7 record last year, but if he wants to equal or better that mark this season, he says he will have to fill a lot of holes left by graduation.
Phlipot has just six lettermen back from last season, after eight seniors graduated.
“We have a lot of holes to fill after losing eight seniors,” he said. “Jared Goubeaux and Kevin Drees are competing to be our starting catcher, and I expect Bryant McCarty and Jonah Counts to get a lot of innings on the mound. And hopefully Zach Sherman can be a leader on offense like he was last year.”
The returnees are seniors Counts, Sherman, McCarty and Connor Monnin, junior Drew Sherman and sophomore Hunter Cohee.
McCarty was 5-0 with a 2.20 earned run average last year, and Counts finished with a 3-2 mark.
Counts hit .259 and will play at short when he’s not pitching, and first base will be either senior Clay Borchers or Cohee.
McCarty will play second when he’s not pitching and brings back a .267 average, and Sherman pounded the ball at a .487 clip, with 38 runs batted in, and will be back at third base.
Monnin and D. Sherman are back in the outfield. Monnin hit .282 and stole 16 bases, and Sherman hit .338 and stole 14 bases.
Senior Jordan Swartz is in the outfield mix, and juniors Dylan Cordonnier and Clay George will play both infield and outfield.
“Anna is my league favorite,” said Phlipot. “And Loramie and us right behind. I look forward to the challenge of facing Alex Brinkman of Anna again this year, to see how our guys are able to adjust to one of the best pitchers in the area.”
Ryan Schlater returns for his third season as Versailles coach.
Graduating off last year’s team were Dan Borchers, Nic Moorman, Jace Barga, Derek Bornhorst and Kyle Rutschilling.
Returning letterwinners include seniors Brett McEldowney and Jared Niekamp; juniors Austin Knapke, Kyle Subler and Jared Heitkamp; and sophomores Cole Niekamp and Keaton McEldowney.
“We have a solid group of returning letterwinners with a group of incoming players that are ready to take the next step and get past districts this year,” Schlater said. “We have been the district runnerup for four straight years and I can tell this year the guys are focused and ready to go. I feel we have a good shot to get past districts this year.”
Schlater hopes to be in the top three in the MAC.