Hilliard Darby High School baseball coach Chris Fugitt wasn't overly concerned when his team trailed host Westerville North by three runs after four innings in its OCC-Cardinal Division opener April 8.
The Panthers showed why their coach remained confident that they would find a way to win, as they scored seven runs in their final three at-bats, including five runs in the seventh inning, to pull out an 11-7 victory.
"So far, so good," said Fugitt, whose team was 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Dublin Jerome 5-1 on April 15. "We have a bunch of seniors with a lot of varsity experience. You expect a lot as far as leadership, how they play and how they handle the tempo and rhythm of the game."
Fugitt said his team was getting strong offensive production from seniors Stephan Hernon (C/INF) and Chris Ramsey (OF) and juniors Nate Green (1B/C) and Kyle Rogers (INF/OF).
"We have been getting contributions from everyone. It seems like a different guy steps up each game," Fugitt said. "Kyle Rogers had a couple of big hits (April 8) against Westerville North.
"We have been getting decent pitching with Nate Green giving up two hits in six innings (in a 4-3 win over Westerville North on April 10) and (senior) Tyler Green also has been pitching well for us."
The Panthers had a home league game against Jerome postponed April 12 because of bad weather and rescheduled for April 16.
"We're playing well, but we still have a ways to go to be where we need to be," Fugitt said. "We need to continue to be consistent defensively and efficient and consistent on the mound."
The Panthers are continuing to get to know their opponents in the OCC-Cardinal. They moved to the league this season as part of OCC realignment after spending the past four years in the OCC-Central.
"We have played Jerome (and) Westerville North ... over the years, but the difference is now we will be seeing their top two pitchers instead of their third or fourth pitchers like we see in non-league games," Fugitt said.
"We have to be more concerned with our guys than our opponent. I'm watching how we play and the little things we do on the field more than who we play."
Wildcats in midst of hectic schedule
Davidson was 4-7 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Central Crossing on April 15.
The Wildcats lost to Dublin Coffman 13-10 on April 8 in their league opener but defeated the Shamrocks 5-1 two days later. Their league game against Central Crossing on April 12 at home was postponed and rescheduled for Thursday, April 18.
"Hopefully, we can make some hay in a busy schedule," coach Jim Dougherty said. "We (played April 15, April 17 and play) Thursday (April 18), Friday (April 19 at Westland) and Saturday (April 20 in a tournament at Newark)."
The Wildcats lost to St. Charles 11-10 in 11 innings April 11 before splitting a doubleheader with Westerville North on April 13, losing 15-6 in the first game and winning 15-1 in five innings in the second.
"We had a 6-2 lead after five (innings in the first game against Westerville North) and gave up 10 runs in the sixth on seven consecutive groundball errors," Dougherty said. "I've never seen anything like that. But we showed some resiliency by being able to bounce back and win the second one."
Senior shortstop Jacob Chrysler had two hits, including a double, in the first game against Westerville North and hit a grand slam in the second game. Senior infielder/outfielder Collin Dickey hit a double in both games against the Warriors.
"Collin Dickey has been a big surprise this week," Dougherty said. "He has hit the ball hard and has played all over the field for us."
Through 10 games, Chrysler had a team-high .448 batting average, four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven runs and 15 RBI. On the mound, he had one save and a 1.07 ERA in nine innings.
Senior second baseman Chris Keck was hitting .333 with two doubles, nine runs and four RBI and Dickey was batting .333 with three doubles, one triple, three runs and nine RBI.
Teamwork helping Jaguars find success
Bradley was 6-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville South on April 16.
The Jaguars lost both league contests against Jerome, falling 2-0 on April 8 and 7-6 in 11 innings on April 10.
Bradley won five of its first six games but entered the week having lost three of its last four. On April 13, it defeated Briggs 7-2 and lost to Central Crossing 5-4.
"The level of our competition stepped up a bit and we didn't get the one-run victories that we got in the first week," coach Matt Gilkerson said. "We played as well (last week) as we did in the (first-week) games, but we just didn't catch a break or get the big hit when we needed to get it. We were in all of the games but weren't able to get a couple of victories."
Gilkerson said his team's offensive leaders have been seniors Reilly Butz (OF), Austin Hatcher (INF) and Jacob Miller (OF), junior Zach Daylong (INF) and sophomore Preston Rapp (INF).
"It's been a bit from everyone hitting-wise, and (senior) Jackson Everman has been great on the mound," Gilkerson said. "One thing we knew coming into the season was that we needed to have a team effort, and so far we have gotten that."