Braves enter season with experience, pitching depth


One of the best things to come out of an up-and-down season, like the 14-13 campaign the Olentangy baseball team had a year ago, is experience. It can’t be taught, only gained … and the Braves gained a ton of it last spring.

This time around, experience won’t be a problem as Olentangy returns five starters and 12 overall lettermen.

“We have a veteran group back for the 2022 season and our strength will be starting pitching depth,” Olentangy coach Ryan Lucas said. “We’re working hard to be as balanced as we can possibly be with good pitching, team defense, team offense and speed on the bases.”

The starting rotation includes three seniors — Austin Sizemore, Carter Williamson and Tommy Chilicki — and juniors Brady Beaumont and Vitaly DiBlasi. Sizemore was solid despite suffering a setback in the Braves’ 2-0 season-ending district semifinal loss to Hilliard Darby a season ago — a game in which Olentangy outhit Darby 8-5. He allowed just one earned run on the five hits while striking out six and walking one.

Seniors Zach Neville, Nathan Holycross and Brandon Hire, along with juniors Andrew Leech and Tyler Moreland, will handle things in relief.

Sizemore, Chilicki and Hire — all three all-league and all-district honorees — will also be asked to keep the offense moving. Hire hit leadoff last season while Sizemore and Chilicki were typically right behind him at second and third in the lineup, respectively.

Other key pieces to the Braves’ plan include seniors Jackson Christian, Aiden O’Brien and Zander Held and juniors Andrew Kieffer and Nick Kightlinger.

Olentangy is slated to open the season today against host Delaware Hayes, weather permitting.

After that, it’s on to Myrtle Beach for spring break. The Braves will play four games over the course of the trip, Monday through Thursday, before taking on host Upper Arlington Monday, April 4.

UA and Hayes are part of a solid non-league schedule that also includes Olentangy Orange, Hilliard Davidson, Westerville North, Mount Vernon, St. Charles and Lancaster.

After the showdown with the Golden Bears, the Braves will travel to Olentangy Berlin Wednesday, April 6 to open league play before hosting the Bears for the home opener Friday, April 8.

“We play in a competitive OCC-Cardinal Division that will test us throughout the spring,” Lucas said. “Our goal is to be in a place in early May to compete for a league title.”

Olentangy’s Brandon Hire beats an Olentangy Orange baserunner to the bag during a game last season in Lewis Center.’s Brandon Hire beats an Olentangy Orange baserunner to the bag during a game last season in Lewis Center. Gazette | File

By Ben Stroup

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