It takes time for young programs to develop depth, especially when starting from scratch, as the Olentangy Berlin baseball team did a handful of years ago.
Now, though, after two seasons just above the .500 mark and a pair of tourney wins to their credit, the Bears finally have some depth to work with coming into the 2022 season.
“This is the most depth and talent we’ve had in the four years of being a program,” coach Mike Weaver said. “We have two four-year starters in the infield and 20-plus other guys competing right now for starting spots. Guys are competing every day, pushing each other to get better.”
Seniors Mac Moore and Matt Barecca will anchor the infield as the most experienced returners. Sophomore Harrison Brewster, who had a solid season as a quarterback for the Berlin football team in the fall, will look for repeat success as an infielder on the diamond, senior Daniel Gladden will play first base and pitch and Parker McDaniels will be behind the plate.
McDaniels, a Division I recruit despite being in just his second season, was an honorable mention All-District pick a year ago while Gladden returns as the team’s top pitcher and hitter. He hit .419 as a junior a season ago.
Others Weaver expects to contribute when the season gets underway include senior Jake Brewster, a returning starter in the outfield; Carson Lewis, a senior pitcher; Quintin Applegate, a senior outfielder and backup catcher; juniors Griffin White and Nate Hurely, who will add depth to the pitching staff; and sophomore pitcher Dylan LeFevre.
Pitching and defense will be strengths, Weaver said.
As for at the plate, the Bears have the pieces to be dangerous.
“Being able to hit consistently and at key times will be key to our success,” Weaver said. “Also, using athleticism to be aggressive offensively.”
Berlin is poised to have another successful season, but Weaver said his team will have to avoid complacency as previous success isn’t ever guaranteed. Fortunately, a loaded league schedule should prevent that from happening.
“Our league, top to bottom, is as good as it gets,” he said. “Darby is the favorite, based on who they bring back and prior success. Every team in our division has at least two legit arms and there are no easy games. Olentangy, (Dublin) Jerome, Thomas (Worthington) and Marysville can beat any team in Central Ohio on any day.”
The Bears have a solid non-league slate as well, starting with the season opener Tuesday, April 5 at Upper Arlington.