Storm Strout let his teammates on the Northridge High School baseball team know what was expected of them.
The senior outfielder didn't mince words following a 5-3 win over third-seeded Liberty Union in a district semifinal May 21 at New Albany. Coming from the coaches is one thing, but Strout told the Vikings that they needed to remain focused, because their mission was far from over.
"Go home, enjoy this and go to bed, but then it's over," said Strout, whose fifth-seeded team was 17-10 before playing 10th-seeded Heath in a district final May 23 at Beavers Field in Lancaster. "We want to be the first to do this."
Strout was referring to being the first team in program history to win a district title. The Vikings last reached a district final in 2002, losing to Grandview 11-8.
A district championship would send the team to a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at the Athletes in Action complex in Xenia to play Cincinnati Madeira, Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Middletown Fenwick or Waynesville.
The regional final is at 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, at the same site. Possible opponents include top-ranked Carlisle and fourth-ranked Cincinnati Hills Christian.
"Winning the district title is our goal and we want to go as far as we can, but anything after winning district is playing with the house's chips," coach Jeff Wilson said. "We want to break through and win that first (district) title."
Northridge got past Liberty Union with a five-run fifth inning that included two errors by the Lions. Trailing 2-0, senior Jerrod Carr (3B/C) drew a leadoff walk off Liberty Union starter Tyler Magley. Sophomore Matt Simmons (C) doubled down the right-field line, moving Carr to third.
"That was the first back-side hit I've had in a long time," said Simmons, who went 3-for-3 with the double and two singles. "We have been working on that in practice and I was able to get it down the line."
After a strikeout, senior Gavin Kyle (OF) laid down a bunt that was fielded by Magley, who threw the ball into the right-field corner, allowing Carr and Simmons to score as Kyle advanced to third. Strout followed with an RBI single to left to put the Vikings ahead for good.
"(Magley) had an odd curveball," Strout said. "It didn't break until really late, but we were able to wait on it."
Sophomore Greg Wilson (OF) followed with a single, and he and Strout advanced an extra base when the outfielder bobbled the ball. Senior Ross Wilson (P/INF) was walked to load the bases, sophomore Clayton Nicks (INF) drove in Strout on a safety squeeze and Greg Wilson scored on a wild pitch for a 5-2 lead.
"We started out a little lethargic, and I'm not sure why. ... Maybe it was nerves," coach Wilson said. "These guys are in uncharted waters (going into a district final), but they know they are capable of playing at this level."
Ross Wilson started for the Vikings and went five innings, giving up nine hits to go with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Liberty Union, which left 11 runners on base, loaded the bases with none out in the first but failed to score as Wilson struck out three in a row.
"I tried to mix my pitches as much as I could," he said. "I tried to keep them off-balance."
Track teams begin postseason
The boys and girls track and field teams competed in the Division II, district 2 meet, which concluded May 25, at Westerville South.
Junior Haley Menix finished second in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) to advance to regional and sophomore Ellie Shedloski was third in the long jump (15-11) to move on.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Thursday and Saturday, May 30 and June 1, at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. The top four at regional advance to the state meet June 7 and 8 at Ohio State.
Sophomore Belinda Marcus was fifth in the discus (83-9), just missing a regional berth.
Last season, the boys did not have any Division II qualifiers to regional. The girls team had three athletes in the Division II regional at Lexington, but did not score with Celina (84 points) winning as 41 teams scored.
Menix finished 10th in the long jump (15-6 3/4) and was 10th in the high jump (5-0). Shedloski was 15th in the long jump (14-11 1/4) and senior Caitlyn Tulloss was 16th in the 400 meters (1 minute, 4.73 seconds).