In all of its first six seasons, the Central Crossing High School baseball team finished with records below .500.

In all of its first six seasons, the Central Crossing High School baseball team finished with records below .500.

With a strong pitching staff and fundamentally sound defense, the Comets finished 17-9 overall this season to post their first winning record. Central Crossing lost to second-seeded Gahanna 2-0 in a Division I district semifinal May 18 and a day later beat Westland 6-5 to finish tied with Thomas Worthington and Upper Arlington for fourth at 7-7 in the OCC-Central Division behind Dublin Coffman (12-2), Hilliard Davidson (11-3) and Hilliard Darby (8-6) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (3-11) and Westland (0-14).

"I finally got to see the growth of this program," coach Scott Todd said.

"When I took over at Central Crossing it was a brand new school with no senior class. I had a vision of where I would like this program to go. Now, I reflect on our most successful season we've ever had and it feels very rewarding.

The Comets' team ERA was 2.29. Senior left-hander Simon Davis was 4-1 with three saves and a 1.82 ERA in 50 innings. He allowed 13 runs on 40 hits, struck out 34 and walked nine. Senior Tommy Black was 5-2 with a 0.96 ERA. He pitched 36 1/3 innings, struck out 26, walked 10, gave up 20 hits and and allowed five earned runs.

"We were in every game and that showed the growth of our program," Todd said. "There was not a time we took the field and felt like we were going to be blown out."

Black and Davis were four-year letterwinners. Senior Cody McManaway, a three-year letterwinners, was 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 35 innings. He allowed seven earned runs on 31 hits and struck out 36.

Central Crossing will lose Black (3B/P), Davis (OF/P), McManaway (OF/P) and senior Nick Helwagen (P/1B). Davis was first team all-OCC-Central and first-team all-district. Black and McManaway were second-team all-OCC and Black was honorable mention all-district.

"It took us seven years to get to a point where we felt we built a good program," Todd said. "I attribute that to our senior class. Their leadership was invaluable."

Among those expected to return are juniors Tyler Miller (1B/P), Ben Rinehart (OF), Chris Siders (C/P) and Sean Thomas (SS) and sophomores Patrick Moreland (2B), Brad Rejo (OF), Josh Warren (C/1B) and Caleb Woodson (3B/C).

Miller was honorable mention all-OCC as he finished 3-2. In 29 2/3 innings he had a 3.30 ERA, struck out 24, walked 16 and allowed 14 earned runs on 28 hits.

Central Crossing did not put up impressive numbers on offense, but did enough to help out its pitching staff.

"Our team batting average was around .260," Todd said. "We did a good job of clutch hitting. Our batting average was not very high, but the guys stepped up in situations when we needed a hit."

Despite the uncertainty surrounding sports in the South-Western City Schools, Central Crossing will not approach the offseason differently.

"We're still going to have an American Legion team," Todd said.

"We just have to find somewhere else to play because they're shutting down the facilities. We're telling the kids to prepare for next season just as if we're going to have one."

•Grove City finished 20-8 overall in the first season with Ryan Alexander as coach. The sixth-seeded Greyhounds lost to 11th-seeded Pickerington Central 7-2 in a Division I district semifinal May 18.

"There was definitely a lot more to it than when I was an assistant," Alexander said. "You go home and think about things a lot more or take more blame for not getting some things done in a loss. Still, we prepared the same way and everything was done the way we wanted it."

In the OCC-Ohio, Grove City finished fourth at 9-5 behind Pickerington North (13-1), Gahanna (11-3) and Pickerington Central (9-4).

"This season was a good building block for our program," Alexander said. "We hope the levy passes Aug. 8 because we're excited about the guys we have coming back."

Grove City will lose seniors Jeremy Britton (INF/P), Trent Corwell (P), Jared Hill (1B/P), Patrick Jackson (CF/P), David Kennett (SS), Jonnie Owen (P), Justin Poole (C) and Brian Snesac (P).

Among those expected to return are juniors Korey Ayers (2B/3B), Brandon Dountz (C), Joey Ford (SS), Mike Mayers (P), Zach Maynard (OF/P), Ryan Mullins (OF/C), Tyler Raymond (OF/P) and Vinnie Williamson (OF) and sophomore Luke Smurthwaite (P).

"Seven of those juniors played almost every day," Alexander said. " They were huge in helping us get 20 wins. We also have great underclassmen. We had more than 30 freshmen try out, our junior varsity lost three games and our freshman team lost five games."

Mayers finished 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 54 innings. Maynard was 3-0 and Smurthwaite was 2-0. In the championship game of the South-Western Schools Classic on May 2, Smurthwaite pitched a no-hitter as Grove City beat Franklin Heights 12-0 in five innings.

Mayers and Jackson were first-team all-OCC-Ohio, Maynard and Raymond were named to the second team and Hillreceived honorable mention. Mayers was first-team all-district and Jackson, Hill and Raymond were second-team all-district and Kennett received honorable mention.

"This offseason is going to be very different," Alexander said. "Last summer, we got the kids in the weight room starting in June and pushed all the way through the summer. Now, it'll be up to them to continue to work hard to do what they need to do to come back better next season."

At a glance

CENTRAL CROSSING

•Record: 17-9 overall, 7-7 (tied for fourth) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Tommy Black, Simon Davis, Nick Helwagen and Cody McManaway

•Key returnees: Tyler Miller, Patrick Moreland, Sean Thomas, Brad Trejo and Caleb Woodson

GROVE CITY

•Record: 20-8 overall, 9-5 (fourth) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Jeremy Britton, Trent Corwell, Jared Hill, Patrick Jackson, David Kennett, Jonnie Owen, Justin Poole and Brian Snesac

•Key returnees: Joe Ford, Mike Mayers, Zach Maynard and Tyler Raymond