The Olentangy baseball team was loaded last season. It finished 24-4, won the OCC-Cardinal Division title and entered the district tournament as the top seed.
That had a lot to do with leadership and experience. This season, though, after graduating 10 seniors, the Braves will be attacking the 2023 campaign with a considerably less-experienced crew.
Seniors Vitaly DiBlasi and Brady Beaumont, the team’s top two arms and only returning starters, will lead the charge. Beyond that, coach Ryan Lucas said it’s all about building a balanced squad with a young group eager to prove themselves on the varsity stage.
“We are working hard to be as balanced as we can possibly be with good pitching, team defense, team offense and being disruptive on the bases,” he said. “We need to grow up fast because we play a challenging league and non-league schedule, and have high expectations year in and year out.”
Junior Andrew Leech will join DiBlasi and Beaumont in the starting rotation. Others Lucas said he and the rest of his staff expect key contributions from include juniors Tyler Moreland, Andrew O’Rielley, Ethan Tuma, Jack Potter, Chase Selhorst, Brendan Carpenter and Daniel Gallagher.
Sophomores Cameron Birch, Carter Hire, Jacob Schlage, Cooper Tracy and Max Rhoads, along with freshmen Luke Chilicki and Kaden Gebhardt, will also get opportunities.
Despite the youth, Lucas said the goal is always the same: compete for a league title and beyond.
“We play in a competitive OCC-Cardinal Division that will test us throughout the spring,” he said. “Our goal is to put ourselves in a position to compete for a league title in May. This will be a great test for us this year, allowing us to grow in our experience and learn how our program operates.”
The Braves open the season with a non-league showdown against visiting DeSales on March 25. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m. A trip to Myrtle Beach over spring break, featuring games against teams from Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, will follow before league play opens up in early April against Olentangy Berlin.