The Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team got off to a 6-2 start and it appeared the Lions would pick up where they left off last year.
Then the Lions lost three in a row -- 5-2 to OCC-Ohio rival Hilliard Darby on April 14 two days after losing a doubleheader to Circleville 7-2 and 8-7. The loss to Darby was the Lions' first in four league contests.
The team seemed to have rebounded, beating Lancaster9-8 on April 16 and Olentangy 6-0 last Friday, but then lost to West Chester Lakota West 11-0 in six innings last Saturday.
The Lions had totaled 35 errors entering play last Monday. The low point came in the losses to Circleville when the team made seven errors in getting swept.
"We had two double plays (in the win over Olentangy) and we hadn't had any all year," coach Mike Shade said. "So I think the defense is starting to get more comfortable. It just takes a while, especially with a young ballclub."
"We're pretty young and inexperienced, but I think we're making a lot of improvements," outfielder Pat Ross said.
With new players at every position except first base and center field, an adjustment period was necessary for the Lions, who had a .947 fielding percentage last season. The new starters included Drew Majerus (2B), Joey Tomko (SS) and Tyler Ranney (3B) in the infield, along with Josh Bokor at catcher and Jared Liston in the outfield.
"We're young and we have a lot of potential. I think we're pretty solid defensivley," Tomko said. "We're making all the plays we need to make and we're starting to make the tough plays and turn two."
Gahanna will play host Friday to Reynoldsburg in a non-league game, then will travel Saturday to Reynoldsburg for the Rey-noldsburg Classic, a four-team event.
The Raiders were 5-6 overall before last Monday but were Division I district runners-up last season after losing to Hilliard Darby 1-0 in a district final.
Shade is hoping the team can continue to make progress on defense.
"We kind of lost track a little bit there (in the losses to Circleville)," Shade said.
"We gave up a 6-1 lead to Circleville and that's bad. I think we lost a bit of focus right when we had it going. The games with Circleville, it was one of those days where nothing would go right for us."
"Defensively, we just need to continue to make the routine plays," Ross said.
"Sometimes we let some of the easy ones slip away as well as the difficult ones."
Following the Reynolds-burg Classic, the Lions will play Monday at home in a league game against Groveport and Tuesday against visiting non-league opponent Watkins Memorial.
They return to OCC-Ohio Division play Wednesday at league-leading Darby.
"We just have to be at our best to continue to win," Shade said. "You're never comfortable with where you are unless you're sitting up top. We're a game down in the league and we've still got work to do. The burden is on us to compete for the OCC championship."
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln baseball team:
*April 16 -- Defeated Lancaster 9-8
Last Friday -- Def. Olentangy 6-0
Last Saturday -- Lost to West Chester Lakota West 11-0 in six innings
*Last Monday -- Lost to Newark 4-3
*Last Wednesday -- Played Westland
Friday -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Saturday -- At Reynoldsburg Classic
*Monday -- Home vs. Groveport
Tuesday -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial
*Wednesday -- At Hilliard Darby
Of note: The Lions were 8-7 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.