As the winter thaws and the spring season rears, spring athletics are soon to take the field. Various area schools are looking to either repeat their past successes or break in a new season of progress and victory.

Here's a look at some of the teams for the upcoming 2022 high school baseball season (Note: Only coaches who responded to questionnaires are included in this preview):

CARROLLTON

Head Coach: Brian Connelly (4th season)

Conference: Eastern Buckeye Conference

2021 record: 11-15 (3-9 EBC)

Returning lettermen: Isaac Moore - Sr., C/Utl.

Parker Varney - Sr., 1B

Brody Wade - Sr., 2B/SS

Josh Price - Sr., P/OF

Joe Carman - Sr., 1B/DH

Brant George - Jr., P/3B

Lawson Irwin - Jr., P/INF

Caden Rininger - Jr., P/INF

Jaxon Rinkes - Jr., P/OF

Cadyn Smith - Jr., P/INF

Area for improvement: Hitting

Conference Outlook: Everyone is a contender in the EBC, a very tough, competitive league.


CONOTTON VALLEY

Head Coach: Dave DiDonato (28th season)

Conference: IVC North, Ohio Valley Athletic Conference

2021 record: 12-15 (6-6 IVC North, 5th place)

Returning lettermen: James Burleson - Sr., CF

Brett Putnam - Sr., P/IF

Adam Walker - Sr., P/1B

Nolan Caldwell - Jr., RF/C

Gaige Galigher - Jr., P/IF

Justin Lambert - Jr., P/C

Cole Edie - So., LF

Top newcomers: Brooks Bower - P/SS

Logan Reiter - P/C

Zach Putnam - P/IF

Team Strengths: Making routine plays, challenging hitters

Area of Improvement: Hitting (was no-hit three times during 2021 season)

Conference Outlook: Strasburg has been dominant in league play for a while now.

EAST CANTON

Head Coach: Doug Miller

Conference: IVC North

2021 record: 13-11 (7-5 IVC North, 2nd place)

Returning lettermen: Grayden Clark - Sr., IF/OF/DH

Trevor Deutschman - Sr., P/IF

Simeon Snyder - Sr., P/IF/OF

Chase Vacco - Sr., P/C/IF

Jeremiah Kandel - Jr., P/C/IF

Toby Schrader - Jr., P/OF

Olly Schrader - So., P/OF

Top newcomers: Alexander Campbell - Jr., 1B, OF

Timmy Dye - So., OF

Steven Stewart - So., P/OF

Isaac Kandel - Fr., C/IF/OF

Chanie Stubblefield - Fr., P/IF

Team Strengths: Experience with seven starters back; Deep pitching staff; Great team speed

Season Outlook: Should be a competitive team with some veteran players. Very good team speed. Several hitters can use the whole field. Pitching is pretty deep. Need to play good defense to complement the pitching. Defense will be the key to our season.

HILAND

Head Coach: Chris Dages (5th season)

Conference: IVC South

2021 record: 27-5 (8-4 IVC South, 3rd place)

Returning lettermen: Dakota Miller - Sr., C/1B/P

Grant Miller - Sr., IF (.388 average, 27 RBIs)

Will Schlabach - Jr., P/OF (4-0, 1.27 ERA)

Isaak Yoder - Jr., P/OF (2-0, 0.38 ERA)

Nolan Yoder - Jr., P/SS (.309 average, 24 RBIs, 11 stolen bases)

Tony Yoder - Sr., Utl.

Top newcomers: Kobe Lapp - Sr., Utl.

Jeff Todaro - Sr., 1B

Alec Weaver - Jr., Utl.

Brady Yoder - So., P/3B

Cody Yoder - So., P/OF

Team Strengths: Defense, Pitching, Team speed

Areas to Improve: Always looking to improve all aspects of our game. We hope to be at our best at the end of the season.

Conference Outlook: You never really know what to expect going into the season. The IVC South is full of good coaches that do a phenomenal job at preparing their teams.

INDIAN VALLEY

Head Coach: Shannon McComb (18th season)

Conference: IVC South

2021 record: 15-12 (9-3 IVC South, 1st place)

Returning lettermen: Cole Lancaster - Sr., 1B/C

Trevor Myers - Sr., P/2B

Rafe Bonifay - Jr., OF/C

Brogan Burcher - Jr., OF

Gavin Henry - Jr., P/SS

Kale Kochman - Jr., P/Utility

Samuel Zurcher - Jr., P/IF

Tanyon McComb - So., P/C/IF

Top newcomers: Lucas Hagan - Sr., OF

Landon Green - So., IF/DH

Cam Guspyt - So., P/OF

Jaxon Burcher - Fr., P/3B

Team Strengths: Returning experience, overall team speed

Areas to Improve: Continue to improve in all aspects of the game every day

Season Outlook: We have a very strong league schedule as well as a tough non-league schedule, so we will have to give maximum effort every day.

Conference Outlook: Indian Valley, Hiland, Ridgewood, and Garaway all return quite a few players from last season. All schools have a rich baseball tradition.

MINERVA

Head Coach: Troy Ritcheson

Conference: Eastern Buckeye Conference

2021 record: 8-18 (1-11 EBC)

Returning lettermen: Nolan Kible - .297 BA, 18 Runs, 12 stolen bases

Ahdyn Lautzenheiser - .237 BA, 8 2Bs, 13 RBIs, 3.82 ERA, 22 IP, 20 Ks

Nick Lautzenheiser - 3.55 ERA, 43 1/3 IP, 38 Ks, 11 Runs, 9 SBs, 6 RBIs

Erik Murray - .282 BA, 19 Runs, 13 SBs, 3 3Bs, 2.33 ERA, 6 IP

Top newcomers: Frank Common – Jr., 1B/3B/P

Isaiah Frazier – Jr., 3B/2B/P/C

Joshua Smith – Jr., 2B/SS/P

Logan Frigyes – So., OF/P

Ashtin McCrobie – So., C

John Davis – So., 2B/P

Daniel Smith – Jr., C/OF

Season Outlook: We are excited about the leadership from our returning players and the energy that our new players will bring to the table.  Our pitching staff will be anchored by seniors Nick and Ahdyn Lautzenheiser.  These two will help guide our pitching staff through a tough EBC schedule this season.  Other pitchers we are looking to count on are senior Erik Murray, juniors Peyton Rich, Frank Common, Isaiah Frazier, and Joshua Smith.  We will have to do a great job of spotting our fastballs and get ahead of hitters to have success this season.

Conference Outlook: Our league is very difficult and we must bring our game night in and night out.  We will be facing some extremely tough pitching each night as every team has a great #1.  I see the league as a two team race in Marlington and Defending champion Salem.  Both teams return a plethora of talent and each have multiple guys committed to play in college.  I see the rest of the teams being able to beat each other on any given day so it will be a battle every night.  If teams are on their game they will be able to compete with Salem and Marlington, but teams will need to execute extremely well to win.  The good news about our league is that it really prepares us for tournaments and our competition level gives a nice edge to get ready for the post season.

NEWCOMERSTOWN

Head Coach: Steven Scott (2nd season)

Conference: IVC North

2021 record: 4-22 (2-10 IVC North, 7th place)

Returning lettermen: Chase Haver - Sr., P/1B/3B

Devin Thompson - Sr., OF

Logan Knepper - Jr., SS/2B/OF

Nash Bricker - P/1B

Henry Both - 2B

Matt Miller - P/3B

Garret Thompson - OF

Top newcomers: David Newkirk - Jr., CF

Bunk Millender - Fr., SS

Kam Rusnak - Fr., P

Cage Miller - Fr., C

Team Strength: Defense, having players returning that understand the fundamentals and systems that are in place gives is a big advantage in the early days of the season.

Area to improve: Hitting

Conference Outlook: The IVC North is a very competitive division. I think Strasburg once again is going to be one of the top teams in the league, and East Canton as well is always very well-coached and fundamentally sound. I think it will be a dogfight for the top - like the division is every year.

NEW PHILADELPHIA

Head Coach: Tyler Weisel (5th season)

Conference: East Central Ohio League

2021 record: 14-11 (4-3 ECOL)

Returning lettermen: Brenton Billman - Sr., P/3B (ECOL, East District 1st team)

Charlie Gibbs - Sr., C/OF

Nathan Shumaker - Sr., C/OF

Carter Vandall - Jr., P/SS (ECOL 2nd team)

Kaiden Stewart - Jr., P/OF

Top newcomers: Elliott Warner - Sr., P/Utl.

Ayden Baker - Jr., P/Utl.

Mitchell Johnson - Jr., OF

Noah O'Brien - Jr., IF

Brandt Wells - Jr., P/IF

Gaven Blake - So., P/IF

Noah Bollon - So., P/IF

Team Strengths: Pitching, defense, upperclassmen leadership

Areas to Improve: Offense; We are going to need some young guys to step into major roles into our lineup.

Conference Outlook: Our league is small but strong top to bottom. Each team can go out and beat the next team. We are going to have to play well each day. I believe that we can compete for a tough ECOL league title.

SANDY VALLEY

Head Coach: Andy Rasicci (2nd season)

Conference: Inter-Valley Conference (South)

2021 record: 9-18

Returning lettermen: Kaiden Mastri - Sr., P/CF/1B (2021: .319 average, 5 HRs, 34 RBIs)

Ben Petro - Sr., C (2021: .318 average, 15 stolen bases)

Brody Marks - Sr., CF/P

Austin Leary - Jr., 2B/OF

Chandler Humphrey - So., C/INF/OF

Nick Petro - So., P/SS

STRASBURG

Head Coach: Mike Becker (8th season)

Conference: IVC North

2021 record: 15-14 (10-2 IVC North, 1st place)

Returning lettermen: Cooper Dailey - 2B/P (IVC-North & East District 2nd Team)

Nick Martin - 3B/P (IVC-North Honorable Mention)

Top newcomers: Derek Rissler - C/2B

Mathew Cox - C/OF

Luke Tucker - OF

Season Outlook: While we have 8 returning lettermen, we are still a young and inexperienced team at the varsity level. Must continue to work to improve in all areas of the game; physically and mentally.

Conference Outlook: East Canton returns some talented players and Coach Miller is one of the best coaches in Ohio High School history. They will play the game the right way

Buckeye Trail and Malvern will also return some athletic and talented players and should contend for the league. As is our goal each season, we expect to be in that conversation as well.

WEST HOLMES

Head Coach: Wyatt Mellor (1st season)

Conference: Ohio Cardinal Conference

2021 record: 19-8 (9-2 OCC, 2nd place)

Returning lettermen: Brody Allen - Sr., OF

Noah Clark - Sr., P (school-record 74 strikeouts in 2021)

Micah Martin - Sr.

Brady Smith - Sr., OF

Nick Ginsburg - Jr., P

Top newcomers: Hunter Aurand - So., SS

Carson Tanner - Fr.

Team strengths: Strong pitching

Areas to improve: Take our hitting to the next level; defense

Conference Outlook: Wooster - has depth; always tough

Mount Vernon - had a very young talented team last year