Senior shortstop Heather Hakola summed up the Marysville High School softball team's season in just a few words.

Senior shortstop Heather Hakola summed up the Marysville High School softball team's season in just a few words.

"Attitude and gratitude," she said. "We had respect for everyone, we worked well together and we never gave up."

Marysville finished 20-9 overall after a 3-2 loss to Pickerington Central in a Division I district semifinal May 18. Central went on to beat second-seeded Gahanna 5-4 in a district final May 20.

Against Central, the problem that had plagued the Monarchs -- inconsistent hitting -- surfaced again.

"In the sixth and seventh innings Central had six hits, and we had three for the whole game," coach Chris Shirer said. "They outhit us. That's the bottom line."

"Nerves got to us at the beginning," senior left-fielder Logan Martindale said. "Our bats came around a little too late that game."

After dealing with an inconsistent offense and a good district, Shirer knows the main focus of the offseason will be on offense.

"We've got to go back to work," he said. "It is going to be just as tough next year. Gahanna, Upper Arlington and Hilliard Darby are all young teams. We have to get better at the plate. Our swings have to get more fundamentally sound. We break down in pressure situations when the nerves are high and we are tense."

Still, Marysville managed to win 20 games and earn a share of the OCC-Cardinal Division. The Monarchs went 11-3 in the league to tie Westerville South ahead of Olentangy (9-4), Westerville North (8-4), Olentangy Liberty (7-7), Westerville Central (5-9), Dublin Scioto (2-12) and Dublin Jerome (1-12).

Marysville, which opened 2-4, won two of three games at the Stellar Classic at Ohio State on April 24-25. The Monarchs won 12 of their final 15 games.

Marysville will lose Hakola and Martindale. Those expected to return include juniors Shelby Allmon (2B), Chelsea Burns (P), Lindsay Hershberger (designated player), Dani Steepe (P), Darik Parker (OF), Paige Thompson (C) and Paige Westfall (C).

Steepe, who was the Player of the Year in the OCC-Cardinal, first-team all-district and second-team all-state, finished 18-6 with a 0.87 ERA. In 161 1/3 innings, she struck out 268, walked 22 and allowed 20 earned runs on 71 hits.

"She'll come back next season the same," Shirer said. "She's a hard worker. She took our loss to Central hard. We gave her a two-run lead into the sixth inning."

Thompson batted .349, followed by Hershberger (.323) and Allmon (.307). Parker had a team-high 17 RBI.

"We've got a good nucleus," Shirer said. "It's up to them how good they want to get."

Over the summer, Shirer will use Wednesdays as practice sessions during which he can focus on improving fundamentals, calling it the Monarch Fundamental Camp.

"We'll bring up the eighth graders and incoming freshmen to show them what we do and how we do it," he said. "Our girls play so many games on travel teams, we wanted to have the same two-hour practices we do in high school. We can make a difference there."

• AWARDS --Hakola was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and second-team all-district, Parker, Allmon and Thompson were named second-team all-OCC and Hersberger was named honorable mention all-OCC.

At a glance

•Record: 20-9 overall, 11-3 (tied for first) in OCC-Cardinal

•Seniors lost: Heather Hakola and Logan Martindale

•Key returnees: Shelby Allmon, Lindsay Hershberger, Darik Parker, Dani Steepe and Paige Thompson