Justin Richards had reached his limit.
The coach of the Johnstown-Monroe High School baseball team gave his squad an impromptu workout after returning from a 10-4 LCL loss April 10 at Utica.
The Johnnies worked out some of their problems in a 90-minute session and responded by winning three of four games entering a league contest April 17 against Heath.
"I think it was kind of a wake-up call for us," said Richards, whose team was 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the LCL after losing to Heath 11-3. "We realized that we were looking for leaders to help us go in the right direction. We worked out for about an hour and a half and have been better since then."
Cody Rayburn tossed a five-hitter as the Johnnies rebounded with a 6-1 victory over Licking Valley on April 11 in LCL play. Clayton Bullard had two doubles.
Richards returned to his alma mater, Richmond Edison, for a doubleheader April 12 with the Wildcats and Toronto. The Johnnies lost to Edison 6-3, but defeated Toronto 6-4 as Ethan Clift was the winning pitcher.
"I wanted to schedule as good of non-league competition as I could and Edison is always in a district final or makes the regional (tournament in Division II)," said Richards, whose team played Big Walnut in a doubleheader April 19.
Clift had a pair of doubles with two RBI to lead the Johnnies past Licking Heights 5-1 in an LCL game April 16. Josh Kirkpatrick picked up the victory and Rayburn added a double, single and two RBI.
"I think (the workout after the Utica loss) made us a better team," Clift said. "It made us a stronger team. The coaches are always telling us that if we come together as team, things will go our way."
Because of the cold, wet weather this spring, the schedule figures to be back loaded in the final weeks of the regular season. Richards is not concerned because of his team's emphasis on fundamentals and pitching depth.
"Every time we have a game canceled we go back to basics and hit the ball until our hands bleed," he said. "We're lucky enough to have three or four pitchers that I'm confident in using every day."
Through eight games, Kirkpatrick was 3-0 with a 0.70 ERA in 20 innings, totaling nine strikeouts and five walks. The Johnnies had a staff ERA of 2.64.
Rayburn was the leading hitter at .350 (7-for-20) with two doubles and seven RBI.
Annis sets record in boys pole vault
The track and field teams played host April 17 to the Vic Thompson Relays and were led by sophomore Josiah Annis, who broke the program record in the boys pole vault with an effort of 13 feet, 2 inches.
The previous record was 13-1 by Jerry Priest in 1977.
Annis also joined Alex Workman (11-0) to win the pole-vault relay (24-2).
"Josiah and Alex were the final two remaining in the event, so they just moved the bar from 11 feet to 13-2 to try and break the record," said Mark Thomas, the Johnnies' pole-vault coach. "Josiah made it over and Alex just barely hit the bar. It was that close."
The 400-meter hurdles relay of Workman, Annis, Matt Hollis and Brenden Peloquin was second (56.0 seconds) as the boys team finished fifth (68 points) of six teams behind champion Millersport (109).
The girls team was second (86) of six teams behind Lakewood (88). The 6,400 relay of Grace Mast, McCalah Mast, Taylor Thomas and Erica Cox won (24:58.9), as did the distance-medley relay (14:52.1) of Grace Mast, McCalah Mast, Thomas and Tanner Jakeway.
The pole-vault relay of Alaina Morrison and Kassie Thomas finished second (12-8). The 3,200 relay of Grace Mast, McCalah Mast, Taylor Thomas and Cox was second (11:33.2), as was the 1,600 relay (4:49) of Jakeway, Olivia McGee, Abi LaRoche and Kylee Villwock.
Boys lacrosse team earns first victory
The boys lacrosse team won its first game when Steven Thiel scored off an Isaia Jacob assist with 2 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the second overtime for a 7-6 victory April 16 over visiting Buckeye Valley.
"We had to dig down hard to win in double overtime with a roster of only 13 boys and one of them was injured," said coach Stephanie Alley, whose team was 1-2 before playing Jonathan Alder on April 18. "We had to play smart and fundamentally sound to come away with the victory."
Hunter Alley scored three times and Dylan Mullen had two goals. Loren Queen scored once and A.J. Napier had 14 saves.
Softball squad rebounds from loss
The softball team was 7-3 overall and 4-3 in the LCL after losing to Heath 3-0 on April 17.
The Johnnies lost an LCL game to Licking Valley 9-0 on April 11. Erin McConnell singled twice.
"We had our chances against Licking Valley, but left nine runners on base," coach Steve Smith said.
"We had a lot of opportunities to score and didn't."
On April 16, Maddi Lusk allowed two hits with five strikeouts and two walks in a 12-1, five-inning win over Licking Heights in LCL play. Lusk also doubled and singled and Sydney Stefanick tripled and singled. McConnell, Abby Schaffer and Anna Torres all had two singles and Jordan Dingess doubled.
"Our bats came back to life with 12 hits (against Licking Heights)," Smith said.
"We got great pitching from Maddi Lusk and we played great defense behind her."