Evan White acknowledges that he was anxious when he stepped to the plate to pinch hit for the Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team with the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the seventh inning April 8 against visiting Groveport.
Six days earlier, the junior first baseman and pitcher suffered a hamstring injury in an 8-0 loss to Olentangy Orange.
"(Groveport pitcher Jake Seipel) threw me four straight balls, which is probably a good thing because I would have swung out of my shoes," White said.
The Lions were 9-3 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division after defeating Newark 8-1 on April 15 despite not having White at full strength because of hamstring and back injuries and being without senior catcher Dakota Cararo because of a back injury.
Cararo, who hit .421 with 24 RBI last season and was named second-team all-district in Division I, isn't expected to play until the end of this month. Taking his place behind the plate have been junior Kain Lowe, sophomore Cole Carey and senior Shawn Martin.
White's leadoff walk against Groveport was followed by a wild pitch, an intentional walk to senior outfielder Trent Champlin and an RBI single by third baseman Christian Chiero that gave Gahanna a 2-1 win.
"It's horrible. I hate (not playing) more than anything," said White, who already has made a verbal commitment to Kent State University. "Believe it or not, I was more nervous than usual (in the pinch-hit at-bat against Groveport), but it's the situation you want to be in."
White believes that the leadership displayed by the team's 13 seniors has helped the Lions get out to a strong start this season.
"In all honestly, this team is tighter (than last year's team) because our winter workouts were huge," he said. "It's definitely been fun so far."
"When we don't hit, we find a way to win," coach Mike Shade said. "We've made plays defensively and have gotten very good pitching. You have to keep the game close to put yourself in a position to win. Having two of our top three guys in the lineup out is a bit rough, but we've got a lot of confidence in all of them."
•NON-LEAGUE SUCCESS -- Gahanna won three of its first four non-league games and entered the week 6-3 outside league play.
The Lions opened the season by defeating Massillon Perry 10-2 and 7-4 on March 30 and beat Marysville 12-2 on April 1 before losing to Orange. They then beat Johnstown 14-2 on April 4 and defeated Lake Orion (Mich.) 2-1 and Westerville North 8-4 on April 6 before losing to Wooster 10-4 and West Chester Lakota West 12-2 on April 13.
Against Lake Orion, senior outfielder Alex Delp smashed a 3-1 fastball for a home run in the bottom of the seventh.
Senior Alec Tuohy pitched a complete game in the 10-2 win over Perry and went the distance on the mound against Groveport. He also pitched all five innings in the run-ruled win over Johnstown.
The game against Lakota West represented a homecoming for Firebirds coach Bill Dreisbach, a 1988 Gahanna graduate who played in the Cincinnati Reds organization.
"He played at Gahanna when I was an assistant varsity coach," said Shade, who has been the Lions' head coach since 1992. "He's a tremendous coach, very fundamental."