The Delaware Hayes High School softball team's bid for its third consecutive OCC-Capital Division championship ended May 8 with a 5-4 loss to Olentangy.
The Pacers were 18-3 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on May 10 and finished third in the OCC-Capital at 11-3. Olentangy went 13-1 to win the league title, with Olentangy Orange placing second at 12-2.
Delaware had shared the OCC-Capital championship with Orange last season after winning it outright in 2011.
"We made too many silly mistakes (against Olentangy) and that cost us," coach Mark Thomas said. "Those are things we've got to clean up to have a good tournament run."
Olentangy parlayed two walks, two errors and two hits into a four-run second inning.
Delaware is the top seed for the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye. It will play host to 27th-seeded Lancaster or 36th-seeded Zanesville in the second round Thursday, May 16, with the winner advancing to a district semifinal May 21 at Pickerington Central against 10th-seeded Teays Valley, 17th-seeded Westerville South, 35th-seeded Dublin Scioto or 39th-seeded Marion-Franklin.
"I love getting the top seed because I think the girls deserve it," Thomas said. "They've worked hard all season and, even though the OCC-Capital isn't the strongest of the OCC divisions, everyone recognizes what type of season we've had.
"Delaware was on the softball map to begin with, but now the target on our backs becomes even bigger."
Lancaster was 8-13 after beating Newark 10-0 on May 8 and Zanesville was 4-19 entering last week.
Delaware defeated Lancaster 7-3 on April 20 in the Lancaster Classic, scoring all of its runs in the final three innings and getting a two-run home run from pitcher Maddy Huck.
"Lancaster has a good pitcher and their top three batters are very good," Thomas said. "We need to keep them off the board early and not have to rally to beat them like the first time. Their record doesn't reflect their ability."
Delaware has not played any of its potential district semifinal opponents this season. Last season, the Pacers were seeded eighth and lost to Teays Valley 7-5 in the second round. Teays Valley went on to reach a district final before losing to Grove City 4-3.
"They graduated outstanding two players from that team, including (Cammi Prantl), who is leading Ohio State in hitting this year," Thomas said of Teays Valley. "Still, they were 15-5 at the draw and they've got a good program."
If Delaware reaches a district final May 25 at Pickerington Central, it likely would face fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, ninth-seeded Pickerington Central, 12th-seeded Olentangy or 14th-seeded Central Crossing.
The Pacers were swept by Olentangy in OCC-Capital play, also losing 3-1 on April 22. They were to have played Liberty on April 13, but the game was canceled because of bad weather. They have not played Central Crossing or Pickerington Central this season.
"The key for us is to stay focused on every pitch in every game," Thomas said. "I just told the girls about our 2005 district championship team. We were seeded eighth that year and beat Gahanna for the title, so seeds aren't really that important."
Through 21 games, Huck was 12-1 with one save and a 1.32 ERA and Mikayla Cooper was 7-1 with two saves and a 1.80 ERA.
Cooper, who also plays shortstop, was leading the team in batting average (.454), runs (29), RBI (31) and home runs (6) and had three triples and five doubles.
Other key offensive contributors include catcher Kaitlyn Woerner (.400, 26 RBI, 4 home runs), third baseman Alaina Manor (.397, 26 runs, 18 RBI, team-high 8 triples), Huck (.388, 14 runs, 26 RBI, 4 home runs), designated player Chandler Fields (.375, 15 RBI), center fielder Abbey Frey (.370, 14 runs, 14 RBI), second baseman Lindsey Blair (.333, 18 runs) and left fielder Jordan Osborn (.309, 20 runs).
Delaware defeated Mount Vernon 9-2 on May 3 and Franklin Heights 11-1 on May 6 in league games.
Baseball team opens against Raiders
The baseball team is seeded 37th of 41 teams in the Division I district tournament and opens in the first round Monday, May 13, at 33rd-seeded Reynoldsburg.
The winner will play at top-seeded Pickerington North in the second round Wednesday, May 15.
Delaware lost to Olentangy 8-2 on May 6 and 8-3 on May 8 to drop to 6-15 overall and finish 4-10 in the OCC-Capital. The Pacers have not played Reynoldsburg, which was 10-16 before playing Hilliard Bradley on May 10, or Pickerington North, which was 22-3 after beating Grove City 6-2 on May 8, this season.
"We didn't have many options left because we were the 37th seed, but I think the first game is definitely winnable with the way we're playing right now," coach Nick Melton said. "With Pickerington North sitting there waiting for the winner, that's a daunting task.
"Reynoldsburg and Pickerington North play in the OCC-Ohio, which is a tough conference, but three of the top five seeds are from the OCC-Capital (No. 2 Orange, No. 3 Watkins Memorial and No. 5 Olentangy) and we've competed well against them."
If Delaware advances, it would face 16th-seeded Central Crossing, 22nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 32nd-seeded Briggs in a district semifinal May 20 at Dublin Coffman and likely 12th-seeded Pickerington Central or 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby in a district final May 22 at Otterbein University.
The Pacers have not played any of those potential opponents this season.
Delaware recently welcomed back to the lineup shortstop and No.2 pitcher Noble Moore, who was sidelined 10 days with a broken thumb. Third baseman Collin Reed, however, was lost for the season when he broke a foot in a 7-5 loss to Mount Vernon on April 26.
"It's great to get Noble back, not only on the mound and at shortstop, but because he's a plus-.300 hitter in our second hole," Melton said. "(Catcher) Alex Rafeld has been on fire lately, hitting line drives all over the park and using the entire field. He's done a great job catching all year, but now he's lifted his batting average over 100 points to .305 in the past eight to 10 games."
Center fielder Connor Ulmer and pitcher/third baseman Greg Suber continue to lead the team in hitting, according to Melton.
Tennis team prepares for sectional tourney
The boys tennis team will spend the next three days preparing for the Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Davidson.
Competing in singles will be juniors John Homan, Nate Miklas and Nathan Bonofiglio. In the first round, Homan faces Davidson's Nick Armstrong, Miklas plays Thomas Worthington's Paul Bohorquez and Bonofiglio faces Big Walnut's Scott Bailey.
Junior Paul Claymier and freshman Brandon Becker will comprise one doubles team and open against Thomas Worthington's Jamie Burpee and Jesse Greene. Senior Thomas Lenhart and junior Jason Watkins will comprise the other doubles team and open against Bradley's Doug Knecht and Jimmy Gaydos.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 24 and 25 at Davidson.
Last year, Colton Richard and 2012 graduate Josh Byerly finished fourth at sectional in doubles to qualify for district, where they lost in the first round. Richard did not return for his junior season.
Delaware lost to Olentangy 4-1 in a non-league match May 7 to fall to 7-9 overall. The Pacers, who lost to the Braves 5-0 in a league match April 2, went 3-4 in the OCC-Capital and competed in the league tournament May 11 at Olentangy.
Volleyball team has tough tourney draw
The boys volleyball team was seeded 12th of 15 teams in the Division I East Region tournament and opened the postseason May 11 against 15th-seeded Pickerington Central.
The winner plays top-seeded Darby in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 15, at Pickerington North. The semifinal winner will play eighth-seeded Coffman, ninth-seeded Liberty, 11th-seeded Westerville Central or 13th-seeded Thomas Worthington in a regional final Saturday, May 18, at Davidson.
The regional champion advances to a state quarterfinal May 25 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
Delaware, which was 3-19 overall before facing Pickerington Central and finished 1-9 in the OCC-Capital, split its two league matches against the Tigers, losing 30-28, 25-17, 25-18 on April 2 and winning 25-15, 25-23, 27-25 on April 18.
The Pacers have not played Darby this season. The Panthers were ranked second in the state poll last week behind Cincinnati Moeller and were the state runners-up last season. They enter the postseason 18-2.
Girls lacrosse team set to open tourney
The girls lacrosse team opens the Division I North/Central Region tournament Monday, May 13, at Westerville South, with the winner playing in the second round Wednesday, May 15, at top-seeded Medina.
The second-round winner will play host to North Canton Hoover, Stow-Munroe Falls or Wooster in a regional semifinal May 20.
Delaware, which was 3-10 overall before playing DeSales on May 9 and Marysville on May 10, lost to South 9-8 in overtime May 6 to finish 1-6 in the OCC-Central. The Pacers have not played three-time defending state champion Medina or any of the potential semifinal opponents this season.