The Grove City High School softball team recently wrapped up its second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship.
Now the Greyhounds are aiming for their second district title in a row and their fifth in the last seven years.
Grove City is seeded second of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament behind Delaware and had a first-round bye. It plays host to 26th-seeded Dublin Coffman or 31st-seeded Franklin Heights in the second round Thursday, May 16.
The Greyhounds, who also won district titles in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and were a district finalist in 2006 and 2009, entered the week 22-4 overall. They have not played Coffman or Franklin Heights this season.
"You win six or seven games in a row right now and you get to hold a big trophy," said coach Ted Williams, whose team beat Teays Valley 4-3 in a district final last year before losing to eventual state champion North Canton Hoover 3-1 in a regional semifinal. "Having a first-round bye, we have six games hopefully to play yet."
The second-round winner will play 13th-seeded Groveport, 16th-seeded Thomas Worthington, 34th-seeded Whetstone or 37th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at Pickerington North.
Grove City swept Groveport in OCC-Ohio play, winning 16-7 on April 10 and 1-0 on April 26 behind a four-hitter by junior pitcher Emma Cornell.
The semifinal winner likely will face seventh-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or eighth-seeded Watterson in a district final May 25 at Pickerington Central.
The Greyhounds defeated Watterson 2-1 on April 27 behind a three-hitter by junior pitcher Jordan Kennaw.
Grove City went 13-1 in the OCC-Ohio to finish ahead of Gahanna (10-3), Groveport (9-5), Pickerington Central (9-5), Lancaster (7-6), Pickerington North (5-9), Newark (2-12) and Reynoldsburg (0-14). The league title is the Greyhounds' fifth in the last six seasons and 16th overall.
Senior catcher Natalie Mabry pointed to a 9-0 win at Gahanna on May 3 as being a key contest on Grove City's march to the league championship. Gahanna had handed the Greyhounds their only league loss, 4-1 on April 17.
"That was amazing," Mabry said of winning the rematch. "I remember the bus ride there. We were like, 'OK guys, we owe them big. They beat us at our place and we need to kick their butt at their place,' and we did. It was so much fun."
Williams was pleased with the way his team responded in the rematch.
"The way Gahanna celebrated rubbed our girls the wrong way a little bit," he said. "Understandably, (the Gahanna players) were excited. It's been awhile since they had beaten us at our place. Our girls had a little chip on their shoulders. They were ready to play (the rematch)."
Grove City clinched the OCC-Ohio championship with late-season wins over Newark (12-1 on May 4), Lancaster (9-2 on May 7) and Pickerington North (13-3 in six innings May 8).
"That's the No. 1 goal every year -- to win a league title," Williams said. "We were lucky enough to take care of that first. The first half of the season is done now."
Comets fall in final OCC-Central game
Central Crossing lost five of its last six OCC-Central games, including an 8-6 loss to host Upper Arlington on May 11, to finish 6-8 in the league.
Marysville and Olentangy Liberty both went 11-3 to share the OCC-Central title.
"The girls didn't give up and they hit better (against UA) than they have been," coach Rona Dorsey said.
The Comets ended a 10-game losing streak by defeating Westland 3-2 in a league game May 8.
Seeded 14th in the Division I district tournament, Central Crossing was 11-13 overall before playing 22nd-seeded Pickerington North in the first round May 14.
The winner plays at fourth-seeded Liberty in the second round Thursday, May 16. The Comets lost to the Patriots 10-5 on April 8 and 6-1 on April 25.
The second-round winner will face ninth-seeded Pickerington Central, 12th-seeded Olentangy, 30th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 42nd-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at Pickerington Central.
The semifinal winner likely will play top-seeded Delaware in a district final May 25 at Central.
"This season presented opportunities for kids to play in key positions new to them and begin the process of rebuilding an OCC championship team," Dorsey said. "At times, we fell short offensively, but the kids are working hard to build a plan at the plate and produce consistent and timely hitting."
Among the Comets' offensive leaders through 24 games were pitcher/first baseman Ally Gruen (.405 batting average), shortstop Michaela Dorsey (.384), pitcher/first baseman Cassady Coukart (.354) and pitcher/infielder Abby Rhodes (.317).
In the circle, Coukart was 6-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 95 innings.