It was about this time last season when the Hilliard Darby High School softball team got on a roll and turned a so-so season into one worth remembering.

It was about this time last season when the Hilliard Darby High School softball team got on a roll and turned a so-so season into one worth remembering.

The Panthers opened 5-7 but found their groove to reach a Division I state semifinal where they fell to eventual state champion Elyria 2-0 to finish 21-9. Through 17 games last year, the Panthers were 10-7.

Although Darby lost four starters to graduation and two starters to first-year Hilliard Bradley, it is hoping to find the magic again.

The Panthers fell to 9-8 with a stunning 8-4 loss to Westland on April 22.

"We've had some games where we obviously haven't played well and the loss to Westland was one of those games," said senior second baseman Simone Luzader, one of the team's tri-captains. "We've got to get it together and work harder. But by no means is this season or league race over. We've still got time.

"Coach (Erin McClincy) mentioned to us that we're almost exactly at the same spot we were this time last year and we turned the corner, turned it around. We're trying to put things together, find some consistency and focus on one game at a time. We can't focus on going on a (winning) streak like we had last year. We have to do it a game at a time."

Darby fell to 5-4 in the OCC-Central Division with the loss to Westland. The Cougars, who had won just twice in their first 14 games, scored three runs in the second inning and three in the third and led 8-0 before the Panthers put together some offense.

"Mollie Obert got a big hit when we started a rally against Westland," Luzader said. "Sometimes it only takes one big hit to get things going. When we've lost momentum, we've had trouble getting that one big hit."

Last season, one big hit by Katie Davis was what it took not only to win a game, but turn around the season. Her two-run home run in the sixth inning propelled the Panthers to a 2-1 win over Upper Arlington that started the winning streak.

"That's what gave us confidence and momentum and things just clicked from that point on," said Davis, a senior captain and third baseman. "So we're not panicking. We just need to work on some small things.

"Our problem has been that we don't put things all together. One game the hitting is off, the next game it's the defense. Against Westland, I think it was our focus. We have everything it takes to be a great team, we just haven't put it all together. ."

Luzader and Davis have been two of the team's top hitters, joining senior designated player Danielle Groh, senior left fielder Ellie Brady and Obert, a junior first baseman.

"Last year I struggled at the plate, but I'm a lot more confident this season," Luzader said. "I'm not over-thinking things and I'm happy."

Davis said the outfield defense has sparkled at times.

"Our center fielder, Tyler Kholi, is making outstanding catches," she said. "I'm not just talking about running things down, I mean she's made tremendous diving catches. And with Ellie Brady in left field, I know anything that gets over my head she's going to be there to track down. She's been robbing people, too, which is good because she's been hitting very well but she's been robbed of hits several times herself."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Darby softball team:

*April 14 - Defeated Thomas Worthington 1-0

*April 15 - Def. Worthington Kilbourne 4-2

April 17 - Def. Dublin Scioto 6-0; lost to Scioto 6-4

*April 19 - Lost to Davidson 5-0

*April 20 - Lost to Central Crossing 2-0

*April 21 - Def. Kilbourne 9-5

*April 22 - Lost to Westland 8-4 in makeup from April 16

*Last Monday - Game against Upper Arlington postponed

Last Tuesday - Played Watter-son

*Last Wednesday - Played Dublin Coffman

*Today - At Thomas

Saturday - At Amherst Steele

*Monday - Home vs. Westland

Tuesday - At Strikeout for the Cure Tournament at Municipal Fields

*Wednesday - At Davidson

Of note: The Panthers were 9-8 overall before last Tuesday and were 5-4 in the OCC-Central before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Central game