Having watched his team struggle to score at times last season, Groveport Madison High School softball coach Steve Cunningham was worried that his team would encounter the same problem this year.
Turns out he had nothing to worry about.
The Cruisers' offense has been a strength this spring, helping them win nine of their first 14 games.
"I've been pleased with our offense," Cunningham said. "We had trouble scoring enough runs to support our pitchers last year and I was concerned about that coming into this season, but we've hit the ball well in most games and we've had some timely hitting when we've needed it."
Groveport was averaging 10.3 runs through 12 games. According to Cunningham, third baseman Amy Castle, pitcher Emilee Downing, first baseman Katie Fellure and outfielder Tisha Lane have been leading the way at the plate.
In a 13-10 win over Lancaster in an OCC-Ohio Division contest April 12, outfielder Destiny Bishop hit a grand slam and designated player Sam Maddy and outfielder Shianne Curry both hit a three-run home run.
Groveport also outslugged Pickerington North 7-6 in a league game April 17.
"Tisha Lane is doing a nice job of getting on base and using her speed in our leadoff spot," Cunningham said. "Katie, Emily and Amy are hitting the ball real consistently and with power, and we're getting some hits from the bottom of our order, too. For example, Shianne hit a home run against Lancaster out of our No. 9 spot."
Cunningham also has been pleased with his team's play in the field. Led by shortstop Brittany Kern, the Cruisers turned in strong defensive performances in a 1-0 win over Dublin Jerome on April 6 and a 3-0 win over Gahanna in a league game April 8.
Despite nursing a fatigued arm, Downing has continued to pitch well, too.
"Our win over Gahanna was definitely huge because they are one of the favorites to win our league," Cunningham said. "Downing pitched a real good game against Gahanna and our defense was strong behind her.
"Our defense has played well overall, except in our (16-7 league) loss to Grove City (on April 10). But those are just some mistakes by different people here and there. It's nothing that can't be fixed."
With three league games over the next six days, Cunningham gave Downing four days off from April 18-21 to rest her arm.
The Cruisers will be looking to avenge their loss to the Greyhounds when they travel to Grove City on Friday, April 26.
"Emilee's got a sore arm that caused her some location problems, but she's still working her way through it and pitching well," Cunningham said. "We're giving her some rest so that she'll be fresh for our league games.
"Grove City's a good team, but we hit the ball pretty well against them. We need to play better defense because they are a good hitting team and we made some mistakes to extend their innings in the first game."
Baseball team looking to improve offense
The baseball team scored 60 runs while winning its first four games, but scored only 18 runs while losing six of its next seven.
According to coach Dick Noble, first baseman Isaac England and outfielders Kyle Kitchen and Logan Mavromatis were hitting over .300 through 11 games.
Groveport struggled offensively in OCC-Ohio losses to Gahanna (2-1 on April 8 and 4-0 on April 10), Grove City (1-0 on April 15) and Lancaster (4-2 on April 18).
"Our bats have let us down," Noble said. "We've lost three close games to (2012) district champions in Gahanna and Grove City that we could have won if we could have come up with a couple more hits with runners on base."
Noble said the Cruisers have been led in the field by Mavromatis, third baseman Tommy O'Diam and shortstop Jordan Spurling.
"Our defense has been holding us in games and we've hardly had any errors," Noble said. "We gave up the winning run in our 2-1 loss to Gahanna on an error, but our defense has otherwise been strong."
Jake Seipel has been leading the Cruisers on the mound.
"Jake has shown a lot of promise," Noble said. "He gave up only one earned run in each of our games against Gahanna (on April 8) and Grove City. He's only averaging about one strikeout per game, but our kids are making plays behind him."
The Cruisers entered their game against Newark on April 22 with an 0-4 record in OCC-Ohio play and on an 18-game losing streak in league play.
"Our league is very tough, but we'll surprise somebody because we're getting better every day and our program is heading in the right direction," Noble said.
Boys tennis team picks up first victory
The boys tennis team lost its first five matches before beating Hamilton Township 4-1 on April 18.
Winning matches were Forrest Baldwin at first singles, Abraham Fantaye at third singles, Cory Johnson and Nate Parsons at first doubles and Jacob Bogner and Tommy Vanatta at second doubles.
The Cruisers will compete in the Bob Raica Memorial Tournament on Saturday, April 27, at Westerville South.