The Delaware Christian School softball team peaked at the right time to make a surprising postseason run that led to the school's first district championship in any sport.
The Eagles, who also won their second league championship this season, beat Berne Union 6-4 in a Division IV district final May 24 at Pickerington Central before losing to South Charleston Southeastern 17-0 in five innings in a regional semifinal May 28 at Tipp City Tippecanoe Middle School to finish 15-11 overall.
Freshman pitcher Ava Heidorn said the goal now is to build the program into a yearly contender for league and district titles.
"We put everything together at the right time and started hitting the ball, but I think we had the talent all year," Heidorn said after the district final. "Winning our first (district) championship is an incredible feeling. Now we know we can do it and we can aim for it every year."
Seeded 10th of 18 teams in the district, Delaware Christian upset the top two seeds en route to the district title. The Eagles, who had a first-round bye, defeated top-seeded Millersport 8-5 in the first round May 17. They then beat eighth-seeded Grove City Christian 14-0 in five innings in a district semifinal May 22 at Pickerington Central before defeating second-seeded Berne Union.
Delaware Christian entered the top of the seventh inning against Berne Union trailing 4-3.
"We beat the top two seeds and we beat two all-state pitchers in (Millersport's) Cassie Holstein and (Berne Union's) Cerna Woodgeard, so I'd say we earned that district championship trophy," said first-year coach Matt Heidorn, Ava's father. "I was thrilled with our season. Our team set goals and worked to obtain them. Winning the (MOCAL) and winning our first (district tournament) game were the foremost goals, but then we set the goal to win the district. I could not have asked for more."
Delaware Christian went 5-1 in the MOCAL to finish ahead of Madison Christian (4-2), Granville Christian (3-3) and Tree of Life (0-6). The Eagles, who won their first league title in 2012, split their games against Madison Christian.
Delaware Christian is losing four seniors in Bethany Kuykendall (OF), Katie Morgan (OF), Carmon Weldi (C) and Kayla Zimmerman (3B/P).
Zimmerman led the team in batting average (.527), home runs (3), doubles (9), RBI (19) and stolen bases (15) and was second on the team in runs (22). In the circle, she went 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings.
Morgan scored 11 runs and had 12 stolen bases and six RBI. Weldi scored six runs and had six RBI and Kuykendall scored seven runs.
Among those expected to return are Heidorn, juniors Emily Cornelius (SS) and Nat-alie Plotner (2B), sophomores Brianna Kuykendall (OF) and Liz Sullivan (OF/C) and freshman Madie Morgan (1B).
Heidorn batted .413 and led the team in hits (33), runs (23) and triples (2). She also had seven doubles, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases and only two strikeouts in 80 at-bats. In the circle, she went 12-11 with one save and 163 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA in 132 2/3 innings. She was named MOCAL Player of the Year.
Cornelius (.353, 10 runs, 15 RBI, 8 stolen bases) and Plotner (.329, 18 runs, 5 doubles, 13 RBI) both were named first-team all-league and Sullivan (.283, 10 RBI) was honorable mention all-league.
"I think that the seniors have helped set a standard for our program as it moves forward," coach Heidorn said. "We should be very competitive next year as we return a great base. We will have strong pitching and return three of our four infielders. We also have some very nice players coming up."