Woodridge baseball's standards do not change from year to year.

The Bulldogs goals are simple every year: Win the league, win the district title and win 20 games.

The fact Woodridge accomplished none of those goals in 2016 was distressing to longtime coach Dennis Dever.

"We had some talent. It's disappointing that we didn't reach our goals last year," Dever said. "We have to work harder. We have some hard workers and then we have some guys who work hard enough."

In 2016, Woodridge went 16-13 overal and 11-3 in its first year in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division. finishing second to Field.

Dever starts his 18th year in charge of Woodridge with a bit of a different looking team.

"We have good team speed," Dever said. "We have a lot of experience returning. We should be pretty strong defensively. The big question mark is our hitting depth.

"I've been pleasantly surprised with our pitching depth," Dever added. "Thirteen of our 16 kids pitch. They all have their own area."

Regarding the Metro Division, Dever sees a wide open race.

"I think Ravenna, Springfield, Field, Norton and us are going to be right in the mix," Dever said. "If we continue to work hard and stay healthy, we should have a good shot at it."

Woodridge lost six seniors to graduation, none bigger than Jackson Taylor, who was the Bulldogs' No. 1 pitcher the last three seasons.

"He was definitely our ace," Dever said. "It's going to be ace by committee this year. We're hoping that somebody will emerge."

Dever's coaching staff remains largely intact. Rick Hardy, Derek Morgan and Ron Winkler are the varsity assistants, while Mark Opritza and Mark Petrusky will coach junior varsity. Freshman team coaches are Don Mygrants and Tom Finegan.

The bulk of Woodridge's experience is through the middle of the field, beginning with senior catcher Kasey Kelleher. Kelleher will start his third year behind the plate after playing an error-free 2016. He has committed to play football at the University of Oklahoma.

"It seems like a tradition that we have great catchers here," Dever said. "Kasey has definitely carried that on."

Senior shortstop Preston Clark is a four-year starter for Woodridge and also will see time on the mound as a closer. Clark hit .308 with with a team-high 23 RBIs last season.

"He's been a very consistent player for us because of his athleticism," Dever said.

Dever said senior second baseman David Graham has had the best preseason camp on the team. Graham is in the running to be Woodridge's No. 2 or 3 pitcher.

"He had a solid year at the plate for us with 23 runs scored," Dever said. "I look for him to really break out."

At first base, junior Zane Patterson seems to have the starting spot locked up.

"He looks good swinging the bat this year," Dever said. "He brings the most experience. Zane also has the inside track to the No. 1 starting pitching spot."

When Patterson is on the mound, junior Mark Bills will see time at first base.

Dever said third base is "the giant question mark in our program." He notes junior Jacob Lovelace and Ryan O'Leary and sophomore Ty Mygrants all are in the running.

Woodridge's outfield will be anchored by senior center fielder Jacob Margroff, a second-team All-Ohio player who has signed to play baseball at Butler University in Indianapolis.

"He's as talented an outfielder as I have coached," Dever said. "He has been our most consistent hitter. He's one of the strongest kids on our team. He loves to work out."

Junior David Massey will start at one of the corner outfield spots, though Dever is not certain which one.

"He tracks the ball well," Dever said. "He's just a pesky hitter and runs the bases well. He's one of the hardest workers on the team."

Dever said senior outfielder Issac Hosford has been "one of most pleasant surprises of the spring." He will be in the running to start in the outfield, as will junior Tanner Boston, though Boston must sit out out the first half of the season after transferring in from Stow-Munroe Falls.

Woodridge will get more pitching help from sophomore Jarrett Martin, who is pushing for a starting role. Dever noted freshman Carson Murphy is "looking better every time he throws," while senior left-hander Robert Zarycki could pitch or see time as designated hitter.

"We do have the ability to be multi-dimensional on offense this year," Dever said. "We lost a lot of innings on the mound. We're going to have some guys who need to step up."

Woodridge will open its season with a trip to Southwest Ohio. The Bulldogs will open the season by playing Kent Roosevelt at Athletes in Action at Xenia March 27 at 1 p.m., before facing Fairborn March 28 at 5 p.m. at Wright State University.

The Bulldogs return to Northeast Ohio March 30 to face St. Vincent-St. Mary at Old Forge Field at 4:30 p.m. before hosting its annual doubleheader with Twinsburg April 1 at 11 a.m.

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