After it lost three of its first four MSL-Ohio Division games by a combined four runs, coach Jim Collis knew the Columbus Academy baseball team was close.

After it lost three of its first four MSL-Ohio Division games by a combined four runs, coach Jim Collis knew the Columbus Academy baseball team was close.

Now, it is a matter of learning how to win those close games.

"If we can get in that situation and win a game, it could catapult us to a successful season," Collis said. "We've got to get there and be able to pull it out."

A 12-2 loss to Granville on April 15 aside, Academy lost to Lakewood 7-6 on April 9, Newark Catholic 7-5 on April 17 and Heath 8-7 on April 23.

"It's out of my hands and my coaches' hands in terms of what we can do," Collis said. "The only missing ingredient for them is believing in themselves. The kids have worked extremely hard. It's a great group to be around. I've been disappointed more for them than at them."

Academy defeated Bexley 11-0 last Friday and lost to Bloom-Carroll 16-15 last Saturday. It was 9-5 overall and 4-4 in the MSL-Ohio after an 11-0 win last Monday over Lakewood.

After the Vikings scored 50 runs in their first four games, the offense remained consistent despite an increasing level of competition. It averaged 10.2 runs through 13 games.

"From top to bottom you look at us and we have a bunch of guys at any time that can hit the ball and put it in play," Collis said. "Jake Mercer has been hitting the ball extremely well as compared to last year. He's proven he can become a good hitter and I've been quite surprised."

According to Collis, the biggest difference in the offensive output has been the ability of the senior class to produce on a consistent basis.

That consistency will be needed if Academy is to make a run in the MSL-Ohio. Last Friday, Newark Catholic's 6-4 win over Whitehall coupled with Licking Valley's 15-5 win over Lakewood moved Newark Catholic to first at 5-1 ahead of Lakewood at 6-2 and Licking Valley at 5-3.

"The league champion could have a minimum of three losses and a maximum of five losses the way the things are shaking out," Collis said. "It's very competitive and I'm optimistic about our chances. We've got some big games that will tell the tale for us."

Academy, which played Wellington last Tuesday and Whitehall last Wednesday, has four of its final six regular-season games at home starting today against Licking Valley. The Vikings will travel to Granville on Friday and play host to Gahanna Christian on Saturday, Newark Catholic on Monday and Heath on Tuesday. Academy will close the regular season Wednesday at Licking Valley.

•The girls lacrosse team lost three of its first four games before winning three consecutive games by one goal. Academy beat Hinsdale (Ill.) Central 6-5 on April 18 at the Hannigan-Galipault tournament at Thomas Worthington, Wellington 12-11 on April 21 and Worthington Kilbourne 14-13 last Friday.

Against Wellington and Kilbourne, Layne Averill led the Vikings with six goals followed by Molly Belcher and Mia Wise with five, Hannah Reis with four and Ali Dillon with three.

"We're starting to become more patient on offense," coach Anne Horton said. "Those girls are contributing to the success of that. I'd like to see that continue."

Academy was 4-3 before a game last Tuesday against Columbus School for Girls.

"With the exception of (a 12-5 loss to Cincinnati Sycamore on April 17), most of our games were decided by one or two points," Horton said. "That shows that the level of competition across central Ohio has really evened out."

Academy, which played Dublin Jerome last Wednesday, will play Tuesday at New Albany. New Albany was 7-1 after a 17-3 win over Olentangy Liberty on April 22.

At a glance

gBelow are recent results and coming schedules for the Academy boys tennis and boys and girls track and field teams:

TENNIS

*April 21 -- Match vs. Bexley postponed. No makeup date has been announced.

April 22 -- Lost to New Albany 3-2

*April 23 -- Def. West Jefferson 5-0

Last Saturday -- Def. Shaker Heights 4-1

Last Monday -- Def. Gahanna 5-0

*Last Tuesday -- Played Grandview

*Today -- Home vs. Whitehall

Friday -- At Gahanna

*Tuesday -- At Granville

Of note: The Vikings were 10-1 overall and 2-0 in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio before last Tuesday.

*MSL-Cardinal/Ohio match

TRACK & FIELD

April 22 -- Boys: Finished second (46) behind Beechcroft (71) and ahead of Whitehall (46); Girls: Finished second (58) behind Beechcroft (86) and ahead of Whitehall (10)

Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished ninth (35) in Kallner Invitational at Hamilton Township behind champion Groveport (117); Girls: Finished fourth (69) behind champion Thornville Sheridan (117). Winners were Alisha Ho in the 1,600 (5:43.82), Margaret Coons in the 3,200 (13:12.6) and the 3,200 relay (10:34.6).

Last Tuesday -- Girls: Competed against Columbus School for Girls

Saturday -- At Mount Gilead Invitational

Tuesday -- Boys: Home vs. Hartley, Ready and Watterson. Girls: At CSG Invitational