With six senior multi-year lettermen back this spring, expectations are higher this year for the Barnesville High baseball squad despite the loss of some talented players from last year's team that finished 12-10 losing to Fort Frye in the semifinals of the OVAC Tournament and then dropping the opening round Division IIII Sectional game to Ridgewood.

"These seniors started as sophomores and took their lumps," 10th-year head coach DJ Butler stated. "They got better last year, but we have to learn how to finish. We left too many runners in scoring position last year and in many games it was the difference between a win or a loss. We need to do a better job of putting the ball in play when we have a chance to drive in a run. We also need to learn how to close out games and find a way to win the close ones.

"Last season was a step in the right direction for this team," he continued. "They improved their number of wins by eight from the previous season and lost a couple of games in the last inning or the season could have been better. We improved tremendously on defense and our pitchers did a good job of throwing strikes."

The senior three-year award winners back this year include Nathan Clark (pitcher/outfielder), Kaelan Hannahs (pitcher/shortstop) and Brady Treherne (catcher).

The two-year lettermen include Seth Gordan (outfielder), Brice Mercer (pitcher/outfielder) and Gaetan Sinisgalli (pitcher/first baseman). Clark was named to the second team all-Eastern District D-III and was an EOBL All-Star, batting .356 with 20 RBI. He was a starter in center field for 22 games last year. Gordan received honorable mention all-Eastern District honors and was an EOBL All-Star who hit at a .347 clip with 15 RBI and was a starter in the outfield 22 games last season. Sinisgalli had a 4-3 record with a 2.28 ERA, 48 strikeouts and just 17 walks and earned first team all-OVAC and all-EOBL honors and second team all-Eastern District. Treherne batted .339 a year ago with 15 RBI and seven doubles and was an EOBL All Star.

"Hannahs started all 22 games at shortstop last year and was invaluable defensively," Butler stated. "Sinisgalli will be our number one pitcher this year."

Just one junior letterman -- two-year award winner Zane Huntsman, returns, while a pair of sophomores -- Cade Hannahs (second baseman) and Aaron Marovich (utility) -- lettered last year as freshmen.

Other junior candidates include Logan Bailes (pitcher/catcher/third baseman), Jacob Clift (pitcher/outfielder), Jacob Gallaway (outfielder) and Braydon Reynolds (pitcher/second baseman). Huntsman hit .349 a year ago with 16 RBI while Cade Hannahs batted .333 with 14 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Marovich played in 12 games last year as a freshman and will be counted on in a variety of positions, but he will be in the line-up somewhere.

Expected to be top pitchers this year are Sinisgalli, Huntsman, Kaelan Hannahs and Clark, while Cade Hannahs and the junior Clift are also expected to see time on the mound. "We have a very good pitching staff with nearly everyone back," Butler stated. "These guys can throw strikes and know how to pitch and we have some freshmen that are capable of stepping up. We also have a tremendous amount of depth on this team. We have very talented players at every grade level which makes practice very competitive."

Other sophomores are Hunter Carpenter (pitcher/second baseman/outfielder), Gage Hannahs (pitcher/third baseman), Kyle Keiser (catcher/pitcher/second baseman) and Gage Warrington (outfielder).

There is also a very talented group of freshmen hopefuls -- Luke Eddy (pitcher/second baseman), Jagger Jefferis (pitcher/first baseman/outfielder), Payne Johnson (pitcher/outfielder), Jarrod Kernen (catcher), Alex Meade (pitcher/shortstop), Uryan Meade (pitcher/outfielder), Luke Powell (pitcher/outfielder), Zach Thompson (pitcher/third baseman) and Riley Tubaugh (pitcher/second baseman/outfielder).

"We have a very talented freshman group and any one of them could see varsity time," Butler pointed out. "Top-to-bottom, this may be the best freshman class we have ever had and they have played a lot of baseball. If they stick with it, I could see all of them on the field as seniors. Kernen will see some time this year as a catcher to relieve Treherne in doubleheaders as well as at designated hitter because he hits the ball extremely hard."

Five players were lost to graduation from last year, with two of the biggest being four-year letterman Jacob Keiser and three-year pitcher Bret Crum. The others were two-year lettermen Logan Schultz and Jacob Carpenter along with Cade Leasure.

"Keiser will be a huge loss," Butler admitted. "He was a four-year letterman that moved from shortstop to third base and went from the lead-off position in the batting order to third to help the team. Crum, who was a three-year starter and threw a lot of innings for us last year, will be a big loss on the mound. Statistically, it was not his best year, but he had previously been an all-Eastern District and East Ohio Baseball League (EBOL) performer. He was a great leader for our team.

"Schultz was the starting designated hitter for two previous seasons," he added. "Carpenter and Leasure were role players, but will be missed." Keiser was named to the first team of the all-OVAC Class 3A, Eastern District Division III and EOBL All-Star teams and participated in the Eastern District and OVAC All-Star games. He batted .405 with 30 hits, 17 stolen bases and 15 RBI.

The varsity will play all their games at Barnesville Memorial Park, with two games with Harrison Central, a pair of games with Steubenville Catholic and a single game with Cambridge new to the schedule.

St. Clairsville won the EOBL last year with Barnesville finishing second.

"St. Clairsville is always good," Butler stated. "Harrison Central, Toronto and Martins Ferry will also be good."

The yearly Barnesville Diamond Classic will become a three-team round-robin tournament, with West Muskingum dropping out too late to find another team.

Butler has a 176-137 career coaching mark (54 of the wins at Jewett-Scio). He will be assisted by Bryce Allen, Shane Crosier and Jeff Miller.