The Northridge High School softball team won its first seven games, but coach Bobbi Jones and her seniors believe there is room for improvement.
According to Jones, the Vikings think they let their guard down in their first two league games, meaning they have to stay focused throughout games if they want to continue their winning ways.
"After the Danville game (April 8), our three seniors -- Kassi (Davison), Faith (Hiser) and Taylor (Mann) -- brought it to a head," said Jones, whose team was 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the MBC before playing Centerburg on April 12. "They weren't happy because we have been relaxing too much. We have to stay focused and not let up."
The Vikings built a four-run lead over Danville and held on for a 4-3 victory.
They defeated East Knox 12-6 on April 9, but the league game wasn't that lopsided. Errors helped the Bulldogs score six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game before the Vikings' bats woke up.
"Starting with the Newark Catholic games (7-0 and 9-4 wins April 6), our bats kind of died out after the fourth inning," said Jones, whose team also played a non-league doubleheader against Lakewood on April 13. "But we were able to put up six more runs on the board (at East Knox), which is a good thing."
In the 7-0 win over Newark Catholic, Makaela Pankuch threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and one walk, and she doubled and drove in two runs. Megan Hatfield homered, doubled and singled and drove in three, Hiser doubled and singled, and Tori Hart, Savannah Legg and Mann all had two singles.
Hart tossed a five-hitter and had three singles in the 9-4 win over the Green Wave. Hatfield had two doubles and a single, and Legg had a double and two singles.
Against Danville, Davison picked up the win. She struck out nine, walked two and doubled twice. Hart homered and Hatfield hit a triple.
"Tori Hart, a freshman, is really playing well, hitting .577 (through seven games)," Jones said. "She really has sparked us and we're hitting nearly .400 as a team.
"We had (two days off before April 12) so we could get back to basics and work on fundamentals. We just have to stay focused and take things one game at a time."
Offseason training helps baseball team
The baseball team was 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the MBC before playing Centerburg on April 12.
Coach Jeff Wilson credits the players' offseason training for the strong start.
"We have some kids who bought into the program over the past couple of years," he said. "They worked hard as individuals and as a unit to get ready for the season. We're still very young and most of our starters are sophomores, so we still should have them for a couple of years."
On April 6, Northridge split a doubleheader against LaGrange Keystone, losing 11-8 and winning 10-1. Matt Simmons hit two home runs in the loss, and Clayton Nicks and Storm Strout both had two singles.
Greg Wilson was the winning pitcher in the second game, striking out nine and walking one.
Jerrad Carr and Strout both homered in a 13-5 win over Danville in the MBC opener April 8.
In a 12-2, five-inning league win over East Knox on April 9, Greg Wilson doubled, singled and had four RBI. Brad Wilson was the winning pitcher, striking out five and walking one.
"Our pitching staff is deep and our bats have been more lively than expected at this point in the season," said coach Wilson, whose team played Thomas Worthington and Westerville Central on April 13. "We're hitting almost .400 as a team (through six games), so we're happy with that."
Track teams hitting their stride
The track and field teams have started strong, led by the girls winning the seven-squad Newark Catholic Invitational on April 6.
The Vikings scored 173 points to finish ahead of runner-up Liberty Union (132).
Hannah Shank won the 100-meter hurdles (17.97 seconds) and 300 hurdles (52.86), and Ellie Shedloski won the 100 (13.57) and the long jump (14 feet, 1 inch). Caitlyn Tulloss won the 400 (1:05.57) and Hayley Menix was first in the high jump (4-10). Taylor Rose was first in the shot put (28-2) and Belinda Marcum won the discus (73-3).
The 400 relay of Menix, Shank, Tulloss and Shedloski won in 54.05. Menix, Rose, Shank and Tulloss comprised the winning 800 relay (1:55.12).
On April 9, Northridge competed in a five-team meet at Sparta Highland. The girls finished second (88) behind Galion Northmor (123) and the boys were fifth (43) behind champion Highland (107).
"The girls team is doing as well as expected and the boys team really grew up at Highland," coach Jeff Dingess said. "(The boys) are starting to look like a real track team. They had good handoffs and they had a fire in their bellies. I asked them to grow up fast and they have responded to it well."