The Hilliard Davidson High School softball team entered the week hoping to build some momentum for the Division I district tournament.
The Wildcats are seeded 18th in the district and will play host to 32nd-seeded Darby in the first round Tuesday, May 14. The winner will play eighth-seeded Watterson or 41st-seeded Westland in the second round May 16.
Davidson had lost four consecutive games before beating Thomas Worthington 9-3 in an OCC-Central Division game May 6. It played Canal Winchester in a non-league game May 7 before concluding the regular season May 8 with a league game against Marysville.
"We've been in almost every game, but just lacked some consistency, which was frustrating," coach Katie Speakman said. "I think we're one of the better teams in our league talent-wise. We just struggled with the consistency in the first round of league play.
"We had moments of brilliance and we have all facets covered. We have some great batters. We've gotten production throughout the lineup, even (from the) No. 7, 8 and 9 (batters). (Pitcher) Taylor Moore and (catcher) Cassidy Rowe are a good battery and they also lead us in hitting. We have some potential to do good things in the tournament, but we have to cut down on our errors."
Davidson and Darby had been OCC-Central rivals the past four seasons before Darby moved to the OCC-Cardinal as part of OCC realignment. The teams faced each other in a non-league game April 6, with the Wildcats winning 6-0 behind a one-hitter by pitcher Hannah DePriest.
Speakman is hoping that playing in the OCC-Central has helped prepare her team for the postseason.
Davidson lost to Olentangy Liberty 10-0 in six innings April 18 but was much more competitive in a 7-4 loss on May 3. The Patriots were ranked fourth in the state poll and third in the area coaches poll in Division I last week.
Marysville, which defeated the Wildcats 7-0 in the first round of league play April 22, was 19-3 before May 7.
Among Davidson's non-league opponents was Worthington Kilbourne, which beat the Wildcats 3-0 in 11 innings and 5-0 on May 4. The Wolves were 20-2 before May 7 and were ranked fifth in the Division I area coaches poll last week.
"Look at our league," Speakman said. "Marysville is a traditional power. Olentangy Liberty and Central Crossing also are very good. We lost two one-run games to Central Crossing (8-7 on April 4 and 3-2 on April 10) and we also lost one-run games to (non-league opponents) New Albany (8-7 on April 3) and Jonathan Alder (1-0 on April 20).
"What seems to be a trend is that we've lost a lot of close games in the sixth or seventh innings and we can't seem to finish. We're averaging three or four errors a game and you can't do that and be too successful in softball. Against Kilbourne and (in the second game against) Liberty, we played good defense, but we lacked timely hitting and that's becoming a concern."
According to Speakman, second baseman Ally Doty has been consistent in the leadoff spot, Rowe has done well batting in the No. 3 hole and Moore has been productive at the plate of late.
"Moore has been coming up with clutch hits and hitting for extra bases," Speakman said. "Those three have been consistent. (Center fielder) Michaela Cunningham and (right fielder) Olivia Tholt played super defense against Kilbourne and made some great catches. They have good speed and rarely give up extra bases."
Panthers still looking for 'right' lineup
Defense continues to be a concern for Darby.
"We're still trying to find the right lineup defensively," coach Erin McClincy said. "The problem is every time we move someone into the shortstop position, it weakens other spots on the field. We've been dealing with injuries, too. But the girls are still working hard. We know the talent is there. We just haven't put it together.
"The good news is that we only have one senior, so the changes we're trying to make right now are for the long-term and what will help us in the future."
Third baseman Stephanie McCullough is the lone senior.
Abby Schuster and Lauren Buelow are among those who have gotten playing time at shortstop. Schuster started the season at catcher before moving to shortstop. Buelow was moved to center field after starting the season at shortstop.
"Buelow has been our most consistent hitter," McClincy said. "She's (batting) around .460 in OCC play and about .350 overall. Schuster also has been very good, especially in the league. Our other leading hitter is freshman (second baseman/pitcher) Logan Cortelletti. She's a left-handed slapper who is doing a great job getting on base."
Jaguars continue to struggle at plate
Bradley is hoping to get its bats going before the start of the Division I district tournament next week.
Through 20 games, the Jaguars were held to one run or scoreless nine times and scored three or more runs six times.
"We've struggled to score all season," coach Kevin Moody said. "What's worse is that the miscues on defense have sunk us because we can't overcome those this year. We've challenged the girls to use their athleticism.
"We're making blunders and we're getting nervous about it. There's no reason to be nervous about it at this point. We've got to relax and make the best of it and not play so tight."
Bradley is seeded 30th in the district tournament and plays at 12th-seeded Olentangy in the first round Tuesday, May 14. The winner plays at ninth-seeded Pickerington Central or 42nd-seeded Columbus West in the second round May 16.
The Jaguars have yet to play Olentangy, Central or West this season.