In just its third season, the Delaware Hayes High School girls lacrosse team has struggled so far this spring.
The Pacers were 0-4 overall after losing to Dublin Coffman 17-8 on April 11 and are 0-3 in the OCC-Central Division.
"We are working on strengthening our basic skills and building on them," first-year coach Erica Pittmann said. "The program is only in its third year. Therefore, we are still a young team. In order to advance our skills, we must understand the game entirely and have complete control of our basics.
"Another goal is to work as a team. Communication is key on the lacrosse field. We are focusing on communicating with each other in a way that benefits the entire team. Communication, working together, playing a clean game and being solid with our basic (skills) on the field is a winning game to us."
Last season, Delaware finished 5-12 overall, losing to Shaker Heights 22-3 in the first round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament. The Pacers, who started 0-6 and were 1-10 before winning four of their final six games, went 2-5 in the OCC-Central to tie Westerville North for sixth, behind Pickerington North (7-0), Pickerington Central (5-2), Westerville South (5-2), Gahanna (4-3) and Westerville Central (3-4) and ahead of Big Walnut (0-7).
The Pacers, who lost to Westerville Central 15-5 on April 5, Pickerington North 21-4 on April 6 and Pickerington Central 19-14 on April 8, returned 11 players who saw significant playing time last season, including senior midfielder Mary Kate Kuchers, junior attacker Morgan Maley and sophomore attacker Madison Laskowski.
"We have five seniors this year who are the true cheerleaders of the team," Pittmann said. "Being a new coach to the program, I have made a lot of changes. The upperclassmen could have become upset and quit. Instead, they embraced the changes and encouraged everyone else to do the same.
"They ask questions, take risks and yell at the other players in a positive manner during practice and games. We have 26 girls and they have started to jell into one team, and the leadership from the seniors has truly helped."
The other returnees are seniors Emily Burkhart (defender) and Jackie Mitchell (defender), juniors Katie Barnhart (midfielder) and Taylor Henderson (midfielder) and sophomores Willow Mollenkopf (defender), Callie Nicholson (goalkeeper), Rachel Nicodemus (midfielder) and Arden Palmquist (attacker).
"Katie Barnhart has taken a leadership role this year on the field," Pittman said. "She is our center and helps our midfield understand the draw situation and how to adjust the positioning to our advantage. She is patient and slows down plays on the attack end in order for other players to become involved in the game.
"Taylor Henderson is able to see everything that is going on and communicates that with her teammates. Katie and Taylor have played travel lacrosse together for years and, if they are unable to work together on attack, Taylor slows down the play and looks to her teammates for help. She continues to grow as a player and is not afraid to take risks on the field."
Also on the team are seniors Kaitlin Mitchell and Kaitlyn Scott, juniors Cassie Call, Jessie Cremer and Lindsay Hayward, sophomores Kelly Estrada and Ana Rodrigues and freshmen Lindsey Bosiokovic, Blair Call, Maddie Ertz, Leia O'Leary, Nauka Schoel, Celeste Smith, Kara Wegmiller and Aaliyah Ximines.
"On the field, Lindsey Bosiokovic is patient and timid. But once she has the ball, she is unstoppable," Pittmann said. "She has great speed and can move the ball down field. She includes as many players as possible when playing attack and, if a mistake is made on her part, she quickly recovers."
Softball team shows offensive firepower
The softball team was 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing New Albany on April 12.
The Pacers were leading Big Walnut 3-2 in the third inning of a league game April 10 when play was suspended because of bad weather. It will be completed Tuesday, April 16.
Despite the start to the season, coach Mark Thomas said there are aspects of the game where the Pacers must improve.
"We've been starting games slowly since the opener," Thomas said. "We usually don't start hitting until the fourth inning and that's not going to cut it all season. We've got to make things happen earlier and gain momentum. It's going to come back and bite us in the butt one of these games."
In a 23-2 win over Watkins Memorial on April 8, Delaware led 2-0 after four innings but scored five runs in the fifth, four in the sixth and 12 in the seventh. The Pacers had 19 hits, including 11 for extra bases.
Junior designated player Chandler Fields went 5-for-5 with a double, two home runs and seven RBI and junior shortstop Mikayla Cooper was 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and four RBI.
Junior catcher Kaitlyn Woerner had two doubles and two RBI. and senior third baseman Alaina Manor had a double and two RBI.
"Through five games, we've outscored our opponents 59-14 and we've had explosions, but it would be nice to start the games with some of those big innings," Thomas said. "I do think we're ahead of last year on offense because the girls came into the winter a whole lot more focused on hitting. I think we're slightly ahead of last year on defense, but we've got things to work on there."