Delaware News

Big Walnut Roundup

Boys tennis team looks past slow start

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Despite his team's start, Big Walnut High School boys tennis coach Ryan Balaz remains optimistic about the season.

The Golden Eagles were 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Capital Division after losing to Worthington Kilbourne 4-1 on April 17.

Jared Deel earned the Golden Eagles' victory at third singles.

Big Walnut's season opened with a 5-0 loss to Dublin Scioto on April 1, followed by league losses to Olentangy (4-1 on April 8), New Albany (5-0 on April 9) and Olentangy Orange (5-0 on April 10).

Picking up the win against Olentangy were Scott Bailey and Stephen Pushkin at second doubles.

"We've played a pretty tough schedule," Balaz said. "I think the kids have improved over each match. It's not that we've been playing bad. The other teams have just been better than us on those days.

"I'm still really encouraged for the rest of the season. I keep telling the players that playing these teams this early is only going to make us better in the long run."

According to Balaz, postponements of matches and canceled practices have hindered his young team's development to this point. However, he is pleased with the effort the players have been putting forth as well as their positive attitudes.

"They're getting better each day," Balaz said. "The team morale is really good. We have really good senior leadership and seniors who are really committed, so that's helped keep everyone focused. ... We have no reason to get down or anything like that."

Among the bright spots thus far has been the play of Bailey, who is one of eight seniors in the program. According to Balaz, Bailey has improved significantly since last year and has given the Golden Eagles a boost in doubles play.

"He's really made a big leap from last year to this year," he said.

Balaz also has been impressed with the commitment shown by one of the team's other leaders, senior Logan Adams, who plays first singles.

"You can just tell he's more experienced, more comfortable out there," he said. "He's come out in really good shape and has been getting to a lot of tennis balls and has really been very competitive in his first few matches."

Softball team has been inconsistent

The softball team was 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital after losing to Mount Vernon 6-2 on April 17.

Big Walnut, which has seven senior starters and boasts an experienced lineup, has been inconsistent so far this season. The Golden Eagles won their first two games, defeating Dublin Coffman 13-3 on April 1 and West Jefferson 10-3 on April 5, but lost three of their next four, falling to Jonathan Alder 3-1 on April 5, Delaware Hayes 5-1 in a league game April 9, Kilbourne 4-1 in a league game April 11 and Teays Valley 6-0 on April 12.

Big Walnut bounced back to beat Hilliard Davidson 8-2 in the second game it played April 12, scoring six runs in the first inning, and defeated New Albany 1-0 in a league game April 16 behind a no-hitter by sophomore pitcher Kate Petty.

Coach Jeff Hatfield said before the start of the season that, given how many experienced players are in his lineup, he was focusing on his players' strengths.

"I'm trying to be a little more relaxed with the girls," Hatfield said. "There are seven seniors, and they've been playing together for a long time. So what we've been trying to focus on is not so much what we can teach them at this point in their career. It's focusing on a few things and being excellent at them."

Baseball team adapts to coach's changes

Having lost seven players from last season to graduation, baseball coach Chris Holly decided to alter his approach to coaching.

The players appear to have responded the way he had hoped, as Big Walnut was 5-4overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Capital afer losing to Delaware 9-2 on April 17.

"In years past, I've had more of an old-school style, the way I was raised," Holly said. "Times are changing and we're trying to adapt to the changes, too. We're just changing our philosophies a little bit and changing it up."

Big Walnut lost both of its OCC-Capital games against Olentangy, falling 4-2 on April 9 and 13-5 on April 10, but it bounced back to beat Delaware 2-1 on April 14 and Kilbourne 4-3 on April 16 in league play.

Garrett Grover and Jeremy Bok combined to pitch a two-hitter against Delaware. Grover started on the mound and was relieved by Bok in the seventh.

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