Jeff Wilson hoped winning an MBC title was just the first step for his Northridge High School baseball team.
The coach was proud that his team won its first league championship since 2001, but he wanted the Vikings to quickly turn their focus toward postseason success.
"We won our last eight MBC games, and that gives us a lot of confidence going into the postseason," said Wilson, whose team was seeded fifth in the Division III district tournament and was 16-9 overall after opening with a 4-3 win over eighth-seeded Marion Pleasant in the second round May 16. "We played a lot of Division I and (Division) II teams in our non-league games and that helped us when we went into league play."
The Vikings tied Fredericktown for first in the MBC at 12-2, followed by Utica (8-6), Johnstown-Monroe (6-8), Loudonville (6-8), Centerburg (5-9), East Knox (4-10) and Danville (3-11).
Senior Ross Wilson struck out six and did not walk a batter as the Vikings beat host Centerburg 6-5 on May 13 to clinch their share of the league title. Senior Storm Strout (OF) and sophomore Brad Wilson (INF) had two hits apiece.
The Vikings needed a three-run seventh inning to oust Pleasant. A two-run single by sophomore Greg Wilson (INF) sent Northridge to its second district semifinal in as many seasons.
Northridge plays third-seeded Liberty Union in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 21, at New Albany. The Lions defeated North Union 3-1 in the second round May 16.
Last season, the Vikings reached their first district semifinal since 2005 and lost to Galion Northmor 6-3. They have not played Liberty Union this season.
In 2005, the Vikings lost to North Union 6-5 in a district semifinal. The last time they reached a district final was 2002, and they lost to Grandview 11-8.
"I think the confidence of the team is much better than earlier in the year," Wilson said. "We started off playing some tough (larger-school) opponents, and we did that by design. (The players) took that rough early in the season because our record hasn't been as good as it was last year. But their confidence has built back up over the year."
With a win at New Albany, the Vikings would play sixth-seeded Marion Elgin or 10th-seeded Heath in a district final at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Beavers Field in Lancaster. The Vikings lost a doubleheader to Heath 5-4 and 4-3 on April 20 and have not played Elgin this season.
The Vikings have never won a district title.
The regional semifinal is May 30 at Athletes in Action in Xenia against the Kings Mills Kings district champion. The regional final is May 31 at the same site.
Track teams begin postseason
The boys and girls track and field teams compete in the Division II, district 2 meet Tuesday, May 21, Wednesday, May 22, and Saturday, May 25, at Westerville South.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 30 and June 1 at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
Last season, the girls finished eighth (28) of 13 teams in district 1 behind champion Granville (176.5).
Junior Hayley Menix finished third in the long jump (15 feet, 2 3/4 inches) and fourth in the high jump (4-10). Sophomore Ellie Shedloski was fourth in the long jump (15-2 3/4) and senior Caitlyn Tulloss placed fourth in the 400 meters (1 minute, 1.61 seconds).
The boys team was 12th (1) in district 1 behind champion Eastmoor Academy (160) and did not have a regional qualifier.
On May 14 in the MBC meet, the girls scored 106.5 points to finish fourth behind Fredericktown (145), Johnstown (133.5) and host Loudonville (132) and ahead of Centerburg (55), Danville (44), East Knox (25) and Utica (9).
The boys team was sixth (62.5) behind Fredericktown (130), Utica (124.5), Centerburg (108), Loudonville (92.5) and East Knox (76) and ahead of Danville (46.5) and Johnstown (15).
Senior Hannah Shank led the girls team with wins in the 100 hurdles (16.79) and 300 hurdles (49.08). She also was a member of the winning 400 relay (51.8) with Shedloski, Tulloss and Menix and the runner-up 1,600 relay (4:22) with Menix, freshman Jillian Choberka and Tulloss.
"We moved people around to get more points, and we ended up with 13 more points," coach Jeff Dingess said. "The top four girls teams were fairly tight."
Shedloski won the 100 (12.97) and was second in the long jump (15-7 1/2). Tulloss was third in the 200 (28.0) and 400 (1:03.2). Menix was third in the high jump (5-0) and fourth in the long jump (14-11).
Senior Nathan Wigal led the boys team by finishing second in the 1,600 (4:50.3) and third in the 3,200 (10:54.8). Senior Kyle Wilbur was second in the 200 (52.72) and senior Tony Shore was fourth in the 100 (11.44) and 200 (24.2).
Wilbur, senior Alex Shedloski, senior Hayden Warner and Shore ran on the second-place 400 relay (46.63). Senior Zach Rudy and freshmen Noah Tornes, Adam Eckstein and Zach Smith comprised the fourth-place 800 relay (1:37.7).
"We made a lot of improvements this year on the boys side, scoring 62.5 points after only scoring 15 last year," Dingess said.
Softball team falls to Ready in tourney
The softball team finished 21-6 overall after losing to 16th-seeded Ready 4-0 on May 15 in the second round of the Division III district tournament. The third-seeded Vikings had a first-round bye.
Northridge defeated Centerburg 2-1 on May 13 to go 13-1 in the MBC. The Vikings finished ahead of Loudonville (9-5), Johnstown (8-6), Centerburg (7-7), Utica (6-8), Danville (5-9), East Knox (5-9) and Fredericktown (3-11).
Senior Kassi Davison pitched a five-hitter against Centerburg with 10 strikeouts and one walk. Senior Taylor Mann (OF) had two hits and scored the decisive run on a single by senior Faith Hiser (OF). Freshman Tori Hart (1B) hit a solo home run.