Becca Gavin found herself in unfamiliar territory in 2011 as a freshman starting catcher for the eventual Division I state runner-up Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team.
Although her role that season mostly was limited to focusing on defense, the fact Gavin batted .077 in 13 at bats couldn't be more different from how she has contributed offensively since.
She batted .369 last season as Gahanna made it to a district semifinal, and she might be the most consistent hitter this spring for a lineup that has several players in key roles for the first time.
"Her first year with us she wasn't a real good hitter," coach Jim Campolo said. "By the end of the year last year, she was the one person I'd want to bat in a crucial situation. I think she's very deserving of (batting) in the fourth spot. She just goes out and works hard. There was never a day in the winter that she didn't put forth effort."
Since 2004, Gahanna has won four district championships and was a district runner-up twice.
During that time, the Lions have had just three regular starters at catcher -- Caitlin Murphy from 2004-06, Kayla Ledbetter from 2007-10 and Gavin.
"She calls all of our pitches and has called all our pitches since she was a freshman," Campolo said. "She reads everything about a batter. She's a kid who will lay it on the line every time she steps out on the field."
Her transformation as a hitter might be the biggest source of pride for Gavin.
"My freshman year (Campolo) told me just to focus on my position," she said. "My sophomore year I batted all year long. I went through a lot of personal lessons with a hitting coach because I wanted to really prove myself since I knew (Campolo) was going to be putting me in the lineup (last year). I've just been working really hard and it's been rewarding."
The Lions were 9-3 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division after losing to Pickerington Central 14-7 on April 22 and playing Groveport on April 24.
Gahanna followed a 3-0 start by losing to Poland Seminary 12-6 on April 6 and to Groveport 3-0 on April 8, but then won its next six games.
Included in the latest winning streak were victories over Sycamore Mohawk (8-2 on April 19), Circleville (8-0 on April 20) and Sylvania Southview (11-1 on April 20) in the Gahanna Showcase.
The Lions placed third (9-5) in the league last year behind Grove City (13-1) but beat the Greyhounds 4-1 on April 17 behind junior pitcher Alex Jander and Gavin, who homered.
Boys tennis team out to strong start
The boys tennis team took a step toward its goal of contending for the OCC-Ohio title when it defeated Reynoldsburg 3-2 on April 18.
The Lions were 7-1 overall after defeating Dublin Jerome 3-2 on April 22 and 3-0 in the league before playing Lancaster on April 23.
Last season, Pickerington North won the league (63 points, 7-0), Reynoldsburg was second (60, 6-1) and Gahanna was third (47, 5-2).
Leading the way has been senior first-singles player Canyon Teague, who was 10-0 before the Jerome match.
"We've been playing some really good tennis," coach Chris Schwinnen said. "We just struggled last year a little after (2012 graduate) Stephen Cheng decided not to come out. It was kind of a what-if year. But their attitudes have been fantastic this year."
Gahanna finished fourth (10) in the eight-team Worthington Cup held April 20 at Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington behind champion Jerome (14).
Teague beat St. Charles' Sam Sullivan 10-0 in the first round, Jerome's Nikil Rangaswamy 10-0 in a semifinal and Hilliard Davidson's Thomas Porter 6-0, 6-0 to win the singles title. The doubles team of John Spain and Aaron Thomas finished eighth.
"I just wanted to keep up my intensity and I didn't want to give up a point," Teague said. "My serve has been the strongest part of my game, and my footwork has been good as well."
Boys volleyball team 'still learning'
With several players in key roles for the first time, the boys volleyball team sometimes has struggled with consistency.
"We've beaten ourselves in a handful of our matches," coach Mike Sage said. "We're still learning. We've had a ton of unforced errors. I told the boys we kind of control our own destiny. We're good enough offensively to hang with anybody."
As Sage expected, the Lions have been led by senior Josh Geary (setter), sophomore Nathan Matthews (middle hitter) and senior Austin Washburn (outside hitter).
The Lions were 8-6 overall after losing to DeSales 25-17, 25-18, 23-25, 25-14 on April 22.
Gahanna beat Pickerington Central (25-18, 25-5, 25-13 on April 16) and Mount Vernon (21-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-8 on April 18) in OCC-Capital play and was 4-2 in the league before playing Delaware on April 23.
"Stephen Arrey (middle hitter), Chase Swickard (right-side hitter) and Seth Murphy (outside hitter) have really filled out our lineup well," Sage said. "Seth's the smallest guy on our team, but he's been really effective. Swickard has been aggressive offensively and Austin is our best athlete. The kid can jump out of the gym."