As the Dublin Jerome High School softball team approached the program record for wins in a season, senior captain Caitlin Clancy sensed attitudes were continuing to change for the better.
After struggling since 2009, the Celtics have shown marked improvement since coach Jim Muessig took over before last season.
A year ago, Jerome finished with a non-losing record for the first time at 12-12, beating its 2008 record of 11-16. Jerome went 7-58 from 2009-11.
"Our team has come together a lot more," Clancy said. "We have different girls. My freshman year there was a lot of drama and there were a lot of people who really didn't get along well. It's been a lot different last year and this year. We've definitely come together more as a team and we definitely pick each other up when people make mistakes. Everybody wants to do well, so it's a lot better environment to be around."
The Celtics, looking for their first winning season, entered the week 11-7 overall.
"There were a lot of question marks with chemistry-type things, so I really didn't know what was going to happen," Muessig said. "I thought we had a chance to be OK. When the kids play a total game, we have an opportunity to play with anybody."
Muessig and his players hope their regular-season success carries over to the Division I district tournament, which begins May 14.
Last season, Jerome defeated Briggs 18-2 in five innings in the first round before losing to Olentangy Orange 5-0.
Although he is pleased with his team's progress, Muessig realizes it needs to improve its record in close games if it plans on having continued success.
Before playing Hilliard Bradley on April 30, the Celtics had lost one-run OCC-Cardinal Division games to North (2-1 on April 18), Westerville Central (2-1 on April 22), Worthington Kilbourne (3-2 in 11 innings April 23) and Westerville South (5-4 on April 25).
Jerome lost to Groveport 1-0 in a non-league game April 6.
"It's just little stuff and I think they understand it, but it's too bad because we could be a lot better than we are right now as far as our record," Muessig said.
Through 18 games, junior Katie Kendall (C) was hitting .510 with a team-high 24 RBI.
Junior Abby Haab (P) was hitting .464 with 19 RBI and junior Kylie Huesman (SS/3B) was at .367 with 10 RBI.
Freshman Lauren Watts (2B/P) was hitting .361 and Clancy (CF) was at .302.
"I'm still trying to get a lineup to a get a little bit more run production because we're still struggling scoring runs against good pitchers," Muessig said.
In the circle, Haab was 10-7 with a 1.05 ERA, 103 strikeouts and 21 walks in 87 innings.
"I'm really excited," Clancy said. "I definitely thought we were going to do well this year, especially since coach Muessig stayed with us. We did really well with him last year, so I was expecting to do well again this year."
Muessig was hoping senior Kaitlin Beebe (LF) would return to the lineup soon as she continues to recover from a concussion.
Coffman looks to bounce back
Coffman entered the week on a six-game losing streak, although coach Leah Howard said her team played well in a 3-2 loss to Hilliard Davidson on April 27.
"We've had ups and downs, a little bit of inconsistency, but we played well (April 27) and that's a good sign," she said.
The Shamrocks visit Westland on Friday, May 3. Coffman defeated Westland 10-0 in five innings April 17.
Howard said that senior leadoff hitter Meredith Mockler (CF), junior Hannah Sabatino (LF) and freshman Sam Isaly (C) have been solid contributors.
"Our hope is to peak at tournament time," Howard said. "Our record is probably not going to get us a very good draw, but we're capable of playing with anybody, so I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."
Scioto ends losing streak
Scioto snapped a 13-game losing streak by defeating Westland 6-2 and Whetstone 3-2 on April 27 at Westland.
Through 16 games, senior Mackenzie Nelsen (P/SS) was hitting .275 and was 3-9 with a 2.58 ERA, 103 strikeouts and 26 walks in 70 2/3 innings.