Zack Dunbrack and Zak Scott are the first two hitters in the Licking Heights High School baseball team's batting order, and the fact that they were leading the Hornets with 16 RBI apiece through 12 games is a sign of the lineup's overall depth.

Zack Dunbrack and Zak Scott are the first two hitters in the Licking Heights High School baseball team's batting order, and the fact that they were leading the Hornets with 16 RBI apiece through 12 games is a sign of the lineup's overall depth.

"That means our seventh (Andrew Bailey), eighth (Steven Clum) and ninth (Chuck Aitken) hitters are doing a good job getting on base," coach Jeff Boyer said.

Pitchers Mick Stakely and Drew Giffin, however, didn't need much in the way of run support as the Hornets defeated Grandview 19-1 in five innings April 18. They combined on a no-hitter as the team pushed its MSL-Cardinal Division winning streak to 13 games dating to last year's league championship season.

The Hornets were 13-1 overall and 9-0 in the MSL-Cardinal before playing Liberty Union on April 20, and a consistent offense has played a key role.

Jake Foley, who hit his first career home run as the Hornets run-ruled Harvest Prep on April 16, was batting a team-leading .485 through 12 games. Scott was hitting .474 and Dunbrack .457. Ronnie Dawson was among central Ohio's leaders with three home runs.

Scott, who is the starting catcher, has managed to stay hot at the plate despite the burdens of playing the most physically demanding position on the field.

"Everyone talks about batting average, but I think on-base percentage is more important," Boyer said. "Zak's a hard worker, and he's one of our leaders in on-base percentage. If you're getting on base you're giving your team a chance to score."

Besides, Boyer prefers to downplay the importance of offense in the first place.

"Hitting comes and goes," he said. "If you're pitching well and playing defense consistently, that's the key to winning."

Stakely improved to 6-0 by earning the decision against Grandview. Dalton Golden, who follows Stakely in the rotation, won his first four decisions. Dunbrack had two wins before April 20, and Jacob Brandwein had the other one.

Their collective efforts give the Hornets a strong chance of repeating as MSL-Cardinal champions. Last year's league title was their first since 1989. Boyer, who is in his 32nd season, said he's not sure when, or if, the Hornets have won consecutive league championships.

"We haven't done it in my time, anyway," he said. "You have to remember when I first got here we played in the (Licking County League), and that was obviously a very good baseball league year in and year out. Recent history is what matters most, and right now good things are happening for us."

Three more MSL-Cardinal games are on deck this week beginning Monday, April 23, at West Jefferson. The next two league games are at home. The Hornets play Berne Union on Wednesday, April 25, and Millersport on Friday, April 27. The MSL-Cardinal finale is April 30 at Fisher Catholic.

The Hornets gave up only four earned runs and eight runs overall during the first round of league play. Millersport scored half of the unearned runs in the Hornets' 20-4 win in five innings April 11. Licking Heights defeated West Jefferson 4-0 on April 5 and Berne Union 17-2 on April 9.

"We still have some work to do if we want to wrap this up," Boyer said. "It's about coming to play every day."