Three errors ended up being the undoing of the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team in a 5-4 loss to host Pickerington Central in a Division I district final May 20.

Three errors ended up being the undoing of the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team in a 5-4 loss to host Pickerington Central in a Division I district final May 20.

Still, it was difficult for coach Jim Campolo not to blame a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position as a key factor in the loss as well as at other key moments this season as his team finished 25-4 overall.

Figuring out ways to protect junior catcher Kayla Ledbetter -- who hit better than .600 and has verbally committed to Miami University -- undoubtedly will be one of the key objectives of the offseason.

"Ledbetter is an exceptional player," said Central coach Dan Drees, whose team walked Ledbetter six times during the two regular-season games and four times in the tournament matchup, with three of those coming intentionally. "We did not want to get in a situation where we'd have to pitch to her. You walk her to pitch to the rest of the lineup."

Gahanna will lose five seniors, including No. 2-hitter and shortstop Jendy Weppler and starting outfielder and No. 6 hitter Paula Lindsay. But the rest of its key players are eligible to return.

Ledbetter, who batted cleanup and had more than 30 RBI, was joined in the junior class by twin sisters Kelli Lennox (2B) and Kim Lennox (P), Cathlene Beck (INF) and Jade Overstreet (INF).

Sophomore Tiyona Marshall started at shortstop as a freshman but moved to center field this season. She could be a candidate to move back to shortstop for Weppler, who started at second base for three years before moving to shortstop this year.

Others eligible to return include sophomores Brandis Fishel (P/OF) and Cassidy Minor (INF) and freshmen Montana Fishel (OF) and Emily Vinsel. Brandis Fishel likely will take over for Lindsay in right field as well as be the No. 2 pitcher. Montana Fishel spent most of the season as a courtesy runner.

Kim Lennox won 17 games last year, 16 this season and should be back as the No. 1 starter.

"We've got a really strong freshman group," Campolo said. "We don't have a whole lot of room for new players on the varsity, but our biggest problem all year long was our lack of hitting. If we find a kid who can field and hit, they'll get a shot.

"We moved Jendy from second base to shortstop this year and moved Kelli Lennox to second base. I'm not beyond moving kids around. We'll have a number of possibilities."

The Lions won their first 15 games, including four during the first week of April in Sarasota, Fla. They then won their first six league contests before falling to Groveport 3-1 on April 28.

On May 9, the Lions had their OCC-Ohio Division title hopes severely dampened with a 4-0 loss to Newark, which they had defeated 10-0 on April 24.

A 3-0 victory over Grove City on May 11 kept Gahanna within one game of first, but it lost to the Greyhounds 4-0 on May 15 as Grove City clinched the league title at 13-1.

On May 16, the Lions won 3-2 over Pickerington Central in a game that took 15 innings and two days to complete and downed Groveport 10-0 to close the league season at 11-3.

Gahanna defeated Worthington Kilbourne 4-0 on May 14 and the Cruisers 4-2 on May 18 in the tournament to set up the third meeting with Pickerington Central. In that game, Gahanna committed two errors and fell behind 2-0. The Lions never led.

"That was probably the worst game we played all year," Campolo said. "We had chances but we left 10 runners on, and unfortunately we made mistakes defensively."

At a glance

•Record: 25-4 overall, 11-3 (second) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Chelsea Coleman, Carrie Hoover, Sharonda Jackson, Paula Lindsay and Jendy Weppler

•Key returnees: Cathlene Beck, Brandis Fishel, Kayla Ledbetter, Kelli Lennox, Kim Lennox and Tiyona Marshall