The Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team fell a couple runs short of winning its fourth Division I district championship in five seasons when it lost to Olentangy 5-3 in a district final May 16 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team fell a couple runs short of winning its fourth Division I district championship in five seasons when it lost to Olentangy 5-3 in a district final May 16 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Considering how little experience the Lions had entering this season, getting that far wasn't expected by some of their top players.

"Honestly, in the beginning of the year, I had absolutely no idea how we were going to do this year," junior catcher Dakota Cararo said.

"Everyone came through, and if you'd asked me at the beginning of the season if we'd have a shot at a district championship, I wouldn't have believed you," junior pitcher and shortstop Alec Tuohy said. "It was a tough game, but I'm proud of how we played."

Gahanna, which was the district's third seed, was tied at 2 with ninth-seeded Olentangy heading into the seventh inning and with Tuohy on the mound. Jacob Kaylor hit a two-run double to give Olentangy a 4-2 lead and the Braves added another run for a 5-2 lead.

Trent Champlin hit a one-out triple and scored on an RBI groundout by Cararo in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lions couldn't complete the rally.

Gahanna, which beat Canal Winchester 4-2 in the second round of the district tournament May 9 after having a first-round bye and defeated 10th-seeded Dublin Jerome 5-1 in a district semifinal May 14, finished 22-7 overall.

The Lions placed second in the OCC-Ohio Division at 10-4, behind Grove City (11-0) and ahead of Pickerington Central (9-4), Pickerington North (9-4), Reynoldsburg (5-9), Lancaster (4-8), Newark (4-9) and Groveport (0-14). Not all of the teams completed league play.

Tuohy ended the season with a 5-4 record and a 2.54 ERA in a team-high 57 2/3 innings.

"He threw well (against Olentangy). We just left a lot of guys on base," coach Mike Shade said. "In the first inning and last, walks come back to haunt you, but Alec is a competitor and a workhorse. If we played Olentangy tomorrow, I send him out to the mound. He will be back and more determined than ever."

The duo of Tuohy and senior Chris Secore (7-1, 1.25 ERA in 55 2/3 innings) helped Gahanna overcome a lack of overall experience. Of the Lions' six seniors, only Secore, Cole Griesinger (OF) and Frankie White (P) were regular contributors.

Griesinger, a Ball State recruit, missed four games with injuries and hit .285 with 19 RBI.

Secore, who will play for West Liberty University, batted only 20 times because of a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder but started at third base and was a key pitcher. Frankie White went 6-0 with a 3.33 ERA in 35 2/3 innings.

Among the expected key returnees is sophomore pitcher Evan White, who was 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 26 innings. He also hit .480 with team-best totals of 31 runs, 50 hits (program record), 102 at-bats and 12 doubles.

Cararo hit .421 with 24 RBI, Tuohy batted .351 and juniors Shawn Martin and Christian Chiero also both hit better than .300.

"It never gets old (to reach a district final)," Shade said. "One thing with Chris on the mound, he's been incredibly competitive. Having Chris and Alec are like having 1 and 1A."

Softball team falls in semifinal

After earning a Division I state runner-up finish a year ago, the softball team lost to host Pickerington Central 8-5 in a district semifinal May 14.

The ninth-seeded Lions were leading 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh when junior pitcher Emmalee Harding got into her first significant trouble.

Central, the third seed, scored two runs and had runners on second and third with no outs in the inning when sophomore Alex Jander entered in place of Harding. Jander intentionally walked Hannah Gilkey to load the bases before giving up a game-ending grand slam to freshman Hunter Brancifort.

"I probably blew it because I probably waited too long to pull (Harding)," coach Jim Campolo said. "She threw a great ballgame and, honestly, I have no idea what happened in the seventh. All of a sudden she couldn't get anybody out."

It was a difficult ending after a strong second half of the season, according to Campolo.

The Lions, who won 14 of their last 17 games, finished 20-9 overall and placed third in the OCC-Ohio at 9-5, behind Grove City (13-1) and Central (12-2) and ahead of Lancaster (7-7), Groveport (6-8), Pickerington North (6-8), Newark (3-11) and Reynoldsburg (0-14).

Gahanna defeated Columbus West 13-0 in the first round of the district tournament May 7 and beat Westerville Central 4-1 in the second round May 10.

The Lions lose five senior starters in Tanya Busby (2B), Montana Fishel (CF), Sarah Seidel (SS), Morgan Sheets (OF) and Emily Vinsel (1B).

Busby was a three-year starter who hit better than .500 and will play for Cedarville University. Montana Fishel batted leadoff and will play for Ohio Dominican. Seidel started since her sophomore season and will play for Muskingum.

Among those expected to return are Harding, Jander, juniors Sara Nelson (INF) and Olivia Schumacher (RF), sophomore Becca Gavin (C) and freshman Brittany Oldaker (3B).

Oldaker hit nearly .500 and tied the program record for home runs with seven.

"I thought both pitchers came a long way in one year," Campolo said of Harding and Jander. "They both came in with absolutely no varsity experience.

"I told them all to just keep working hard and do everything asked of them and we'll be OK. We'll lose five starters and the majority of them were at least two-year starters, but that's all part of it. Someone always steps up."