The Groveport Madison High School softball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal for the fifth consecutive year.
Seeded 13th of 42 teams, the Cruisers opened the district tournament with a 6-2 win over 37th-seeded Watkins Memorial on May 14 at home and defeated 16th-seeded Thomas Worthington 4-3 in the second round May 16 at home to improve to 16-9 and set up a semifinal contest against second-seeded Grove City on May 21 at Pickerington North.
The semifinal winner faces seventh-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or eighth-seeded Watterson in a district final Saturday, May 25, at Pickerington Central. Groveport has not played Kilbourne this season but it did play Watterson.
"We lost to Watterson 9-0 in the second game of the year (April 3)," coach Steve Cunningham said. "It was a real cold day. We didn't come ready to play and (Watterson) scored eight runs in the first inning before we woke up. They're a real experienced infield and a very good team with three or four college signees, but they're not nine runs better than us if we both play well.
"That's the trouble we've had at times this season. We have no room for error. If we're not at our best, it's tough to overcome. We have to play well to win. We're not a team that can show up, not play well and pull out victories most of the time."
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 29, at Ohio State, where it will face Delaware, Olentangy Liberty, Pickerington Central or Teays Valley.
Delaware is the top seed in the district.
Groveport was swept by Pickerington Central in OCC-Ohio Division play, losing 10-3 on May 2 and 14-6 on May 7. The Cruisers, who lost to Grove City 16-7 on April 10 and 1-0 on April 26 in league play and lost to the fourth-seeded Greyhounds 8-4 in a district semifinal last season as the 11th seed, have not played Delaware, Liberty or Teays Valley this season.
Groveport trailed Thomas 3-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning but scored one run in the fifth and two in the sixth to tie the game. The Cruisers scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
In the Cruisers' final at-bat against the Cardinals, pitcher Emilee Downing singled and moved to third on a one-out single by designated player Sam Maddy. With runners on second and third, outfielder Destiny Bishop reached on a fielder's choice that loaded the bases. Second baseman Brittany Kern then hit a groundball between shortstop and third base and the shortstop's throw to home plate was not in time to prevent Downing from scoring.
Downing went 3-for-4 against the Cardinals, with Maddy going 2-for-3 and center fielder Tisha Lane going 2-for-4. Third baseman Amy Castle had a triple.
"We played well in both games," Cunningham said, referring to the contests against Thomas and Watkins Memorial. "We had a rocky start against Thomas but recovered. We had a big crowd there and lots of enthusiasm. It was a nice environment.
"We hit the ball well throughout the lineup in both games. We just didn't string (the hits) together that well against Thomas."
Baldwin advances to district in boys tennis
Senior Forrest Baldwin of the boys tennis team will compete in the Division I district tournament Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Hilliard Davidson.
Baldwin was seeded third in singles in the sectional May 16 and 18 at Pickerington Central but finished second.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district, where the top four will qualify for the state tournament May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Baldwin qualified for the district by beating Grove City's Chris Laine 6-1, 6-0 in the first round, Logan's Urias Polly 6-0, 6-0 in the second round and Pickerington Central's Nick Vandervoort 6-2, 6-1 in a quarterfinal May 16.
Two days later, Baldwin defeated New Albany's Harrison Lippy 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 in a semifinal before retiring against top-seeded Naki Giri of New Albany after losing the first two games of the first set.
Baldwin set the program record for wins in a season (21) and a career (49) with the victory over Lippy.
"He knew what he had to do and was very prepared and focused (May 16)," coach Doug Ewart said.
"It was a sigh of relief for him to finish (the first day). He achieved his goal (of reaching district)."
Also in singles at sectional, senior Josh Sampson lost to Zanesville's Brenton Osborne 6-2, 6-2 in the first round and senior Jordan Winegardner lost to Pickerington Central's Chase Pratt 6-2, 6-3 in a play-in match.
In the first round in doubles, juniors Nate Parsons and Cory Johnson lost to Central's Kyle Maycock and Richie Siebert 6-2, 6-1 and junior J. Simms and sophomore Nick Shannon fell to Logan's Britton Mann and John Aucker 7-6, 6-3.
Baseball team falls in district opener
The baseball team lost to 25th-seeded New Albany 3-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 13 to finish 9-17 overall.
The Cruisers were seeded 35th of 41 teams.
"We misplayed a fly ball that cost us two runs and we didn't play well at all," coach Dick Noble said.
"It hurts worse when you play poorly and barely lose because you know that if you played well, you would've had another game."
Groveport finished 0-14 in the OCC-Ohio to place eighth, behind Pickerington North (12-2), Pickerington Central (10-4), Grove City (9-5), Gahanna (8-6), Lancaster (8-6), Newark (5-9) and Reynoldsburg (4-10).
The Cruisers lose five seniors, including three starters in Logan Mavromatis (CF), Tommy O'Diam (3B) and Lucas Trout (RF).
Mavromatis led the team in batting average (.402) and RBI (29) and was named second-team all-league. O'Diam batted .388 with 17 runs.
"Those two had great seasons," Noble said. "O'Diam was our leadoff batter and played a hard-nosed third base. I enjoyed all of the seniors. They may not have had a winning season, but they're great kids who definitely will be successful adults and young men."
Among those expected to return are juniors Isaac England (1B), Jake Seipel (P) and Cody Snyder (2B), sophomore Jordan Spurling (SS) and freshman Colin Bobo (P).
England (.372), Seipel batted (.360) and Spurling (.333) were among the team's offensive leaders and Seipel went 2-7 on the mound but had a 1.74 ERA. England and Spurling were honorable mention all-league.
"Seipel pitched very well but didn't get enough offensive support and we also struggled defensively at times," Noble said. "We'll need more contributions on offense next season and we need to develop more pitching."
Napier wins long jump title in OCC-Ohio meet
The track and field teams are competing in the Division I, district 1 meet this week at Hilliard Darby.
The meet began May 21 with the running event preliminaries, continues Thursday, May 23, with the field events and concludes Saturday, May 25, with the running event finals.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 29, and May 31 at Pickerington North.
Groveport competed in the OCC-Ohio meet May 16 and 18 at Thomas Worthington.
The boys team finished fifth (67) behind Pickerington North (202), Pickerington Central (99), Gahanna (98) and Lancaster (90) and ahead of Newark (54), Reynoldsburg (26) and Grove City (19).
The Cruisers were led by junior D'Marious Napier, who won the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches).
The girls team finished eighth (21) in the league meet, behind Gahanna (177.5), Central (141), North (116.5), Reynoldsburg (78), Lancaster (46.5), Grove City (43.5) and Newark (35).