Jake Chetock remembers four summers ago like it was yesterday.
The infielder for the Hilliard Darby High School baseball team had finished eighth grade and was attending the program's summer camp. Chetock finds it difficult to believe that he is now a senior playing in his final postseason with the Panthers.
"It's going be really weird because when I was at that camp, I thought that this would be so far away, but it has all gone so quickly," Chetock said. "It's crazy that it's here because we have all pretty much played together since 10- or 11-year-olds with the Hilliard Colts. This will be my last run with my friends."
The 13th-seeded Panthers, who have 13 seniors, had a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament. They were 16-8 overall before playing Watterson on May 13 and opening the postseason May 15 against 18th-seeded Lancaster in the second round.
"Pitching is important in the postseason and (junior) Nate Green has been great for us," said senior outfielder Chris Ramsey, who has signed to play at Valparaiso University. "We need to make sure we get key hits with runners on base and mostly just make the routine plays on both offense and defense."
Through 24 games, Green was 6-0 with a 0.33 ERA and 61 strikeouts and 19 walks in 42 innings. He also was hitting .375 with 25 RBI and 14 runs.
Chetock was hitting .371 with a .511 on-best percentage, 25 runs, 18 stolen bases and 11 RBI. Ramsey had a .321 batting average with 18 runs and 17 RBI.
The Panthers won six of their final eight regular-season games and their final six OCC-Cardinal Division games to finish second (11-3) in the league behind Dublin Jerome (12-2). Westerville South (8-6) was third, followed by Westerville North (7-7), Dublin Scioto (5-8), Bradley (5-9), Westerville Central (4-9) and Worthington Kilbourne (3-11). Scioto and Westerville Central will not make up their final league contest.
"Baseball can be a streaky game and we seemed to find (the right combination) toward the end of the (regular) season," senior outfielder Hayden VanKirk said. "We have to make fundamental plays, the pitchers have to throw strikes and our bats have to stay hot. We have to make the basic plays."
Chetock said a midseason meeting with coach Chris Fugitt helped get the Panthers on track.
"Coach Fugitt brought (the seniors) together and told us that our team's success would depend on what we would do to lead the team," said Chetock, who plans to play college baseball at Bluffton or Otterbein. "We had to make sure we were doing the little things and make sure we make the most of our final season."
The winner of the second-round game advanced to a district semifinal against 12th-seeded Pickerington Central or 34th-seeded Newark on Monday, May 20, at Olentangy.
The Panthers lost to Pickerington Central 9-4 on May 4.
The semifinal winner advances to a district final Wednesday, May 22, at Otterbein against top-seeded Pickerington North, 22nd-seeded Davidson or 33rd-seeded Reynoldsburg.
The Panthers defeated Davidson 5-3 on March 30 and lost to the Wildcats 6-5 on May 7. They did not play any of the other possible opponents this season.
The regional semifinal is May 30 at Dublin Coffman.
Wildcats finish sixth in OCC-Central
Davidson finished sixth (6-8) in the OCC-Central behind Thomas Worthington (11-3), Marysville (9-5), Olentangy Liberty (9-5), Coffman (8-6) and Upper Arlington (8-6) and ahead of Central Crossing (5-9) and Westland (0-14).
The Wildcats were 13-14 overall after defeating Briggs 12-0 in five innings on May 13 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. The winner played Central Crossing in the second round May 15.
The second-round winner advanced to play Pickerington North, Reynoldsburg or Delaware in a district semifinal Monday, May 20, at Coffman.
The semifinal winner moves on to a district final Wednesday, May 22, at Otterbein against Darby, Pickerington Central, Lancaster, Canal Winchester or Newark. The Wildcats defeated Newark 8-0 on April 20.
The regional semifinal is May 30 at Coffman.
Bradley falls to UA in district tourney
The 22nd-seeded Wildcats were 13-14 overall after defeating 32nd-seeded Briggs 12-0 in five innings May 13 in the first round of the Division I district. They played 16th-seeded Central Crossing in the second round May 15.