The Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team has not lacked an obvious No. 1 starting pitcher during most of Jim Campolo's nine-year tenure as coach.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team has not lacked an obvious No. 1 starting pitcher during most of Jim Campolo's nine-year tenure as coach.

There was Rachel Thomas, a 2003 graduate who struck out 241 batters and led the Lions to a Division I state runner-up finish as a senior.

She was followed by 2005 graduate Candace White and 2007 graduate Stefanie Vinsel, each of whom served as the No. 1 pitcher during their respective final two prep seasons.

Senior Kim Lennox broke through as the top pitcher in 2008 and won 17 games, and last season she won 16.

The Lions always have had other pitchers throw occasional innings, but there never has been a question during Campolo's tenure regarding who would throw once the team hit its biggest games of the OCC schedule and district tournament.

That is, until now.

Lennox, who along with her twin sister, Kelli, signed April 16 to play for Notre Dame College in South Euclid, has again pitched like an ace. Through 12 games, Kim was 4-2 with a 1.22 ERA, 37 strikeouts and just three walks in 34 1/3 innings.

The emergence of junior Brandis Fishel, however, has given Gahanna unusual depth in the circle.

Fishel was 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA and 43 strikeouts and 14 walks in 40 2/3 innings over the Lions' first 12 games. She also struck out 13 during a 7-2 win over Rochester (N.Y.) Mercy on April 20, but the Lions considered the game a scrimmage.

"Brandis is more of a power pitcher who basically has the ability to blow it by you," Campolo said. "When you watch her, you don't see any change of emotion on her face and she throws strikes when she has to. Kim is more of a finesse pitcher who throws different pitches at you and makes you hit her pitch. Kim's been very, very consistent and has more strikeouts than she normally does, which shows she's hitting her spots."

Kim Lennox was forced to battle with several pitchers, including her sister, 2008 graduate Marissa Lennox, for the starting job as a sophomore. After becoming the No. 1 starter by midseason of that year, she helped the Lions win a district championship.

Last year, Gahanna finished second at 11-3 in the first season of the current alignment of the OCC-Ohio Division behind Grove City (13-1) and earned a district runner-up finish.

Still, Kim Lennox hasn't struggled adjusting to rotating starts with Fishel. She also has seen action at third base.

"Brandis and I are both doing a pretty good job and our defense is playing well," Lennox said. "We've both been pitching every other day this year. I think I've been pretty consistent and have been pitching well overall."

Gahanna defeated Brunswick 5-2 and West Chester Lakota West 6-5 on April 17, with Kim Lennox picking up both wins.

The Lakota West game was one of the few in which Fishel has struggled this season. She was replaced with two outs in the top of the seventh by Kim Lennox, who recorded the final out as Gahanna trailed 5-0.

The Lions then scored six times, including an RBI single from designated hitter Tanya Busby and a three-run double by second baseman Kelli Lennox, in the bottom of the seventh.

Fishel pitched in only a few non-pressure situations last year, but otherwise quickly has settled in this season.

"I feel like we've been doing well together," Fishel said. "I think my confidence is up. Last year when I did pitch, I was more nervous, but I was the only pitcher on my travel team over the summer."

At a glance

Below are recent results and the coming schedule for the Gahanna softball team:

*April 14 - Lost to Grove City 5-0

*April 15 - Defeated Reynoldsburg 7-0

April 17 - Def. Brunswick 5-2 and def. West Chester Lakota West 6-5 in Gahanna Showcase

*April 19 - Def. Groveport 2-0

*April 21 - Def. Newark 3-0

*April 22 - Def. Lancaster 5-1

Last Saturday - Def. Mogadore Field 3-2; def. Stow-Munroe Falls 3-2

*Last Tuesday - Played Pickerington Central

*Last Wednesday - Played Pickerington North

*Friday - At Grove City

*Monday - Home vs. Reynoldsburg

*Wednesday - At Groveport

Of note: The Lions were 13-4 overall and 8-1 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio game