One of the first things Matt Fisher did after being hired as Hartley High School girls basketball coach earlier this month was have some of the expected returning players tell him about themselves via e-mail.
He came away impressed.
"My first impression of the players is that they appear to be extremely dedicated to their school and the program," Fisher said. "I'm very excited to work with the administration, the parents and the players."
From 2010-11 through 2012-13, Fisher led Dublin Scioto to a 45-23 record that included a Division I district semifinal appearance in his final season. A health issue that since has been resolved led Fisher to step down after his third season.
Fisher also previously coached the New Lexington and Marion Catholic boys and the Briggs girls programs.
A Caledonia River Valley graduate, he teaches in Columbus City Schools.
"(I was attracted to) the history of the school, and the dedication of the students is something I have always respected," Fisher said. "I'm also a member of the community and of Pope John XXIII, which is a parish associated with the school. I truly appreciate this opportunity."
Fisher replaces Mike Lanza, who stepped down in March after seven seasons. The Hawks won a Division II district championship in 2013, their first since 2001.
Lanza was named Grove City's football coach Jan. 13 but didn't make his decision about his Hartley coaching job until after the season.
The Hawks lose just one player from the team that went 12-10 this winter in guard Alexis Britford. Junior post player Marissa Brown, who has committed to Youngstown State, averaged 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season while making first-team all-district in Division II.
"Although I can't make any predictions as of yet, it seems that we have the right components, but it will all depend on the buy-in of the players, the preparation from the coaching staff and of course how well we jell together as a team," Fisher said. "We will be working on team unity and learning the system, and I expect to be ready to perform at the highest level possible next season."
Baseball team establishing roles
With wins of 15-7 and 13-3 over Lancaster on April 12, the baseball team reached double digits in runs in three of its first nine games.
The Hawks hope to continue the offensive success when they travel Thursday, April 24, to Fisher Catholic. They return to CCL play Monday, April 28, at Ready.
Hartley, which beat St. Charles 7-6 on April 16 to improve to 2-1 in the CCL, was 6-4 overall before playing Bloom-Carroll on April 22. Its CCL game April 14 against DeSales was postponed.
The Hawks also lost close games to Licking Heights (9-7 on April 1), Canal Winchester (9-8 on April 5) and league-foe Watterson (5-4 on April 11).
"We've started to figure out where we can use some kids and they've figured out their roles," coach Chad Young said. "We had a couple games we felt we should have won."
Seniors Sam Montgomery (CF) and Drew Onega (LF), junior Cameron Macioce (3B), sophomore Sean Gilmore (C) and freshman Jake Ruby (RF) all have gotten off to solid starts offensively, according to Young.
Senior Andrew Gilliland and sophomore Adam Rose have been the top pitchers.
Junior Pat Heinmiller was the winning pitcher in the 15-7 win over Lancaster and Ruby won the second game of the doubleheader.
"Rose and Gilliland have been pitching pretty well," Young said. "If (sophomore Nate) Moore and Heinmiller get control of their pitches, that will help because we'll need them down the road."
Softball team working on defense
When softball coach Meghan Zuercher created her team's schedule, she believed it would leave the Hawks little margin for mistakes.
With that in mind, much of their focus has been on improving their defense.
Hartley opened CCL play with a 9-0 win over Watterson on April 16 and was 6-4 overall before playing April 22 against Westerville Central and April 23 against North Union. Its league game April 14 against Ready was postponed, as was its contest April 15 against Granville.
"Two of our losses were one-run losses, which is nothing to be ashamed of," Zuercher said. "We've got to stop making errors, so we've been working really hard on our defense. Overall we're not too disappointed. I knew when I created the schedule that there was the potential for things to go either way. We've won some one-run games as well. It's good for the girls to be in these pressure situations."
Through seven games, senior Sidney Melton (SS) was hitting .580. She then hit two home runs in a 13-3 win over Central Crossing on April 12.
Britford (1B) and Cassie Plageman (C) were batting .450 and .375, respectively, through seven games.
Freshman Tatum Wise, who has been pitching the majority of the Hawks' key innings, had a 0.85 ERA through 33 innings. Sophomore Maria Cegledy also has seen time in the circle.
Other standouts, according to Zuercher, have been seniors Kristen Culbertson (3B), Mariah Rock (OF) and Nicole Weldon (OF).
"Sidney Melton has been hitting the snot out of the ball," Zuercher said. "Alexis Britford really contributed to our offense her sophomore year and last year battled broken ribs and injuries. This year she's batting .450. ... Alexis is always banged up, but she's one of the toughest kids I've ever coached."