As the Grove City High School softball team continues its pursuit of its second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division and Division I district titles, coach Ted Williams said three seniors are leading the way.
Center fielder Ashton Salyers, second baseman Haylea Garner and backup catcher Natalie Mabry have provided leadership on and off the field, according to Williams.
"We have a lot of people who are expecting us to do big things this year," said Salyers, whose team lost to North Canton Hoover 3-1 in a Division I regional semifinal last season. "We're just trying to take it day by day, inning by inning and see how everything goes. We're expecting the best, but we play relaxed, not too much pressure, especially with the team we have.
"We look great on paper, but it's just making that work every single day."
After winning four consecutive games to begin league play, Grove City lost at home to Gahanna 4-1 on April 17. The rematch is May 3 at Gahanna.
Salyers, who last season was the Player of the Year in the OCC-Ohio and was named first-team all-district and all-state, will play at Wright State. Through 15 games, she was hitting .475.
"Ashton is probably one of the best defensive outfielders in the state," Williams said. "Offensively, she's not too bad either."
Garner, who was hitting .300, began her varsity career at shortstop as a sophomore.
"I can play anywhere, but coach thought it would be better to put me at second," Garner said. "Honestly, I think it was better for me, too."
While Salyers and Garner have provided numerous contributions on the field, Williams also pointed to Mabry's contributions off the field as playing a key role.
"Natalie gets her innings here and there, but she's always positive and does whatever she can do to better the team as a whole," Williams said.
Mabry was hitting .273 through 15 games.
Grove City won two games in the Racers Spring Showcase at Firestone Stadium in Akron on April 20, defeating Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 10-0 in five innings and Heath 9-0 in a game shortened to six innings because of time restraints.
"It was pretty cold, but the girls did a nice job and they didn't complain about the weather," Williams said. "They had quite a few hits in both games."
The Greyhounds were 12-4 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Ohio after beating Pickerington North 4-0 on April 22. They played Hilliard Darby on April 23 and Reynoldsburg in a league game April 24.
Williams said he expects his team's home game against Groveport on Friday, April 26, to be a key contest in the league title chase. The Greyhounds beat Groveport 16-7 on April 10.
"We have amazing team chemistry and I think we're going to do big things," Salyers said.
Comets aiming for OCC-Central title
Central Crossing also entered the week pursuing a league title, as the Comets were among the early contenders in the OCC-Central.
"The team is jelling very well and their level of play is picking up," coach Rona Dorsey said. "They are having a lot of fun together."
The Comets were 10-1 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Central after defeating Westland 17-7 on April 22. They played Olentangy Liberty on April 24.
Through 10 games, Mich-aela Dorsey (SS/C) was hitting .447, followed by Abby Rhodes (P/2B/SS) at .437, Allyson Gruen (P/1B) at .363 and Cassady Coukart (P/1B) at .354.
Gruen had 13 RBI.
Coukart also was 7-1 with a 1.22 ERA, 34 strikeouts and four walks in 45 innings.
"I'm rotating both pitchers back and forth," coach Dorsey said of Coukart and Gruen, who are freshmen. "Right now both offer something different, so I look at each team and gauge which is going to be the most effective. When they're not pitching, they're definitely in the lineup and they're on the field, so they're both very effective players."
Central Crossing plays Hoover on Saturday, April 27, in the Prebis Memorial Tournament at LaGrange Community Park. Last season, Hoover beat the Comets 12-0 in five innings in a regional final.
"We're excited about the opportunity to play teams you don't normally get to play, but even more so to play North Canton Hoover again and test my younger team against that seasoned team," coach Dorsey said. "You always love getting up for big games, so for us that's a big game."