Like any other high school athlete experiencing success, Bexley pitcher Josh Shapiro had an air of invincibility about him.
It's hard to blame the baseball team's junior left-hander, who was 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 57 innings last spring. At the plate, he led the team with a .321 batting average and 29 RBI as the Lions reached a Division II district semifinal.
It was during that game, a 12-6 loss to Jonathan Alder, which advanced to the state final, that Shapiro was tested physically and mentally.
"Around the second inning, my shoulder popped out as I threw and popped back in," Shapiro said. "That was when I was kind of like, 'Something is not right here.'
"I actually struck the next dude out to finish the inning. Then I took myself out from there. It was a painful experience."
Shapiro was told by a doctor that he injured the area directly above the growth plate in his throwing shoulder and that he couldn't throw for six to eight weeks, but surgery was not required. Shapiro said the injury was caused by wear and tear from constant throwing.
"It was extremely hard. Baseball, I play it almost every day, ever since I was 4 or 5," said the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Shapiro. "I've never really been hurt before. So it was kind of a new experience (and I had to) face a little adversity.
"It is nothing that I can't get through to get back to where I want to be."
The 16-year-old Shapiro displays a mature mindset and determination to regain his form. This spring, he was 0-2 with a 4.88 ERA through 14 1/3 innings, but had struck out 21. At the plate, he was hitting .281 with nine RBI.
"I have a little bit of that (invincibility) that's for sure. I feel like most people have that," he said. "I had that for most of my (sophomore) season, and it's sad how it ended, but sometimes it just happens."
What has made things a little easier on Shapiro and the Lions is the quality seasons starting pitchers Marshall Drewry (3-0, 0.78 ERA) and Drew Elliott (1-1, 2.15 ERA) are having. Bexley was 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Worthington Christian on April 21.
"I think (Shapiro) has gotten tougher in a sense that he feels that he can rely on his teammates a little bit more to help him through things," coach Tom Marker said. "When Josh first came to us, he was No. 1 as a freshman and we didn't have a No. 2, but we had a young team as a whole. We have three bona fide starters now.
"I just think sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself. If he relaxes and lets the game come to him, he is going to be successful."
Last July, Shapiro picked up a ball for the first time since his injury. Through fall ball and practicing in the winter, he had to overcome the injury being on his mind when he pitched. He said he is over that mental hurdle, is throwing pain free and his fastball is in the mid-80s range, where it was before the injury.
"I feel like I am right around the corner," he said. "I think any game now and any day that I can just start breaking out and be the exact pitcher I was last year if not even better -- hopefully even better."
Girls track team wins McMillin Invitational
Senior Regan Detwiler won the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 42.8 seconds) and ran on the first-place 3,200 relay (10:30.6), while senior Lissy Schmidt won the 300 hurdles (49.1) to lead the girls track and field team to the title in the Pat McMillin Invitational on April 19 at Whitehall.
The Lions followed up their first-place effort in the Bexley Relays on April 11 by scoring 100 points to finish first of eight teams at Whitehall ahead of Licking Heights (93) and Eastmoor Academy (91).
"I am really proud of the team's effort today," coach Jamie Hayes said. "Even though it is called an invitational, it was more of a relay meet, so the girls really had to work together.
"We really are a well-rounded team."
Senior Meghan Hayden was second in the 1,600 (5:46.6) and joined Detwiler, junior Spencer Halliday and freshman Veronica Mendivil on the 3,200 relay.
"We also had some standout performances in the individual events. We were second behind Eastmoor before the (1,600), and Regan Detwiler and Meghan Hayden (finishing first and second) put us ahead," Hayes said. "Both girls ran on the winning (3,200 relay) and had a fantastic day.
"Lissy Schmidt also had a great day today. She had not been feeling well (last) week and missed some practices, but Lissy is a competitor. I knew once she got out there she would be fine."
The boys team placed third (79) of eight teams behind Eastmoor (107) and Columbus Academy (87), as senior Ian Kellogg won the 1,600 (4:40.1).
Softball team rolling along
The softball team improved to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the MSL-Ohio with an 11-1 win over Grandview on April 16.
Bexley scored 11 unanswered runs after falling behind in the second inning.
Senior pitcher Katy Watson improved to 6-2 for the Lions, who played Worthington Christian in a league game April 21.
Tennis team snaps skid
The boys tennis team snapped a four-match losing streak with a 5-0 league win over London on April 17.
Sophomore Shia Saar, senior Ethan Goodstein and sophomore T.J. Phelps each picked up straight-set singles victories.
Bexley, which lost at Cincinnati Wyoming and at Cincinnati Seven Hills by 4-1 scores April 19, was 3-6 overall before a league match April 21 against Granville.
Girls lacrosse team on winning streak
The girls lacrosse team had won three in a row to improve to 5-2 before playing Columbus Schools for Girls on April 22.
In an 8-6 win over Watterson on April 15, senior midfielder Sarah Dawley scored five goals. Two nights later, she scored six times as the Lions beat Granville 19-5.
Senior midfielder Samantha Bolon also had six goals against Granville.
Through seven games, Dawley (23) and Bolon (22) had combined for 45 of Bexley's 76 goals.
Boys lacrosse team falls to Granville
The boys lacrosse team lost to Granville 16-8 on April 16, dropping to 2-4 before facing DeSales on April 23.