Canal Winchester High School softball coach Randy Hinton doesn't think his team reached its potential this season.
The Indians finished 17-11 overall and went 8-6 in the MSL-Buckeye Division to place third, behind Bloom-Carroll (13-1) and Teays Valley (12-2). Their season ended with an 11-3 loss to sixth-seeded Gahanna in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 16.
"We definitely had a good season, but I'm a little disappointed because I think our talent level was higher than 17-11 this year," Hinton said. "Winning 17 games is a good accomplishment, but I think we could have done a little better than we did in our league and in the tournament."
Canal Winchester appeared to be peaking late in the regular season after beating Hartley 9-3 and West Jefferson 8-0 on May 4 and defeating Liberty Union 8-1 and Fairfield Union 6-3 on May 11.
"We had a big turnaround late in the season, sweeping back-to-back doubleheaders," Hinton said. "When we beat them, West Jefferson was ranked second (in the area coaches poll) in Division III and Hartley was ranked sixth in Division II. Liberty Union and Fairfield Union had quality teams, too, and those were big wins heading into the tournament."
Seeded 21st of 42 teams, Canal Winchester defeated 33rd-seeded Mount Vernon 13-1 in five innings in the first round of the district tournament May 14 before falling to Gahanna.
"We really hit the ball well this year and the runs piled up for us in a lot of games," said Hinton, who completed his 13th season leading the program. "We had a .368 team batting average, which is the highest we've had by 30 points since I've been here. But we also made a lot of physical and mental mistakes defensively in the games we lost, and that's what cost us in the tournament."
The Indians lose three senior starters in Hannah Barnhart (LF), Alyxis Moore (C) and Kaleigh Whitlatch (SS).
Moore batted .444 with seven home runs, 34 RBI and 20 runs. Whitlatch batted .433 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 36 runs. Both players were first-team all-league.
Starters expected to return are sophomores Jenna Carlisle (RF), Carly Favorito (P), Taylor Griffin (1B/P), Raven Hamilton (CF) and Paige Hughes (designated player) and freshmen Callie Caswell (2B) and Bailee Faulkner (3B).
Hamilton, who batted .451 with three home runs, 22 RBI and 23 runs, was second-team all-league.
In the circle, Favorito went 13-10 with a 2.20 ERA, 118 strikeouts and 33 walks in 153 innings.
Griffin batted .361 with six doubles, 13 RBI and 15 runs. Both players were honorable mention all-league.
Faulkner also batted .362 with two home runs, six doubles, 17 RBI and 17 runs.
"Our future looks good because we have a lot of good players coming back," Hinton said.
"With the right amount of work, Carly could be one of the best pitchers in our area next year, and I expect all of our returning players to improve."
This was Canal Winchester's final season in the MSL-Buckeye. It moves into the OCC-Cardinal next year.
Baseball team posts winning season
The baseball team finished 14-12 overall and went 9-5 in the MSL-Buckeye to place second, behind Bloom-Carroll (13-1) and ahead of Hamilton Township (8-6), Logan Elm (7-7), Circleville (6-8), Teays Valley (5-9), Amanda-Clearcreek (5-9) and Fairfield Union (3-11).
Seeded 27th of 41 teams, Canal Winchester lost to 18th-seeded Lancaster 9-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 13.
The Indians went 6-4 in one-run games.
"We had a great group of kids and I think we could have done better, but the ball just didn't bounce our way as much as we would have liked it to," coach Jay Bartos said.
"We were in a lot of one-run games and we lost a lot of close games or we would have had a much better record."
The Indians lose six senior starters in Matthew Cunningham (LF/3B/P), Kevin Ilich (CF), Dalton McKee (1B), Colby Rapier (SS), Jerod Shirley (DH/1B) and Isaac Pifer (RF/P).
Ilich, who batted .338 with 27 RBI, and Cunningham, who hit .406 with 20 runs, both made first-team all-league. Pifer, who batted .287 with 16 runs, was second-team all-league and Rapier, who hit .362 with 17 RBI and 21 runs, was honorable mention all-league.
McKee batted .383 with two home runs, 29 RBI and 10 runs.
Six players who saw significant playing time are expected to return in juniors Max Baker (C/P), Trevor Beerman (P/2B), Cody Cowgill (2B), Troy Fleming (RF/P), Jared Kotwis (3B/P) and Chase Wymer (3B/P).
Baker, who went 5-1 on the mound and batted .281 with 21 runs, was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league. Beerman, who hit .328 with 12 RBI and 22 runs, was honorable mention all-league.
"We have a ton of pitching coming back, so I'm already excited about next season," Bartos said.
Rosch, Smith win titles in district track meet
The track and field teams competed in the Division I, district 2 meet May 21, 22 and 25 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the regional meet, which began May 29 and concludes Friday, May 31, at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each regional event advance to the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Qualifying for regional for the girls team during the first two days of the district meet were Gretchen Rosch in the pole vault (first, 11 feet), Taylor Smith in the high jump (first, 5-4) and long jump (fourth, 16-6 1/2), Megan Tamasovich in the high jump (second, 5-1) and Rebecca Lusignolo in the discus (fourth, 101-7).
Advancing for the boys team during the first two days was Jermil Powell in the high jump (second, 6-3).