New Albany High School pitcher Wynston McMartin has helped himself more often than not this spring with an improved performance at the plate.

New Albany High School pitcher Wynston McMartin has helped himself more often than not this spring with an improved performance at the plate.

He's hoping all the extra work he's put in for the Eagles baseball team will help him ace his senior seminar project as well.

"It's a class all of its own, and it's about what we're going to do in college," said McMartin, who has signed to play at Youngstown State. "I love baseball, so I figured that would be the way to go for this assignment. I started last August, and I've put in over 100 hours on it so far.

"It has to be all outside work, too. I couldn't include (any time spent in) our practices or games this spring or anything like that. The 100 hours, it's all just extra time I've put in on the field and in the weight room. I can see it's really paying off."

An example of a drill McMartin came up with to improve his hand-eye coordination in the batter's box was to practice hitting marshmallows with a broomstick.

"I've done a lot of offseason work, especially on my hitting," he said. "Last year I think I had maybe only five hits all year."

McMartin, who batted .161 a year ago, had twice as many hits through 12 games this spring and was among the team's leaders in batting average (.370), hits (10), doubles (2) and runs (8). He led the starters in slugging percentage (.778) and RBI (14) up to that point, and he hit his team-leading fourth home run in a 13-3 setback in five innings April 16 against Olentangy Orange as the Pioneers earned a split in the pivotal OCC-Capital Division series.

Defending-champion New Albany had won the first game 3-0 on April 13 as McMartin tossed a two-hitter in a pitching matchup of Division I college recruits. Luke Wolford, a shortstop who has signed to play at Dayton, started on the mound for the Pioneers.

McMartin's record dropped to 4-1 when he took the loss in a 6-4 setback April 19 at Gahanna. Through 12 games, however, he was leading the staff in ERA (0.90) and strikeouts (26). Opponents were batting .167 against him.

McMartin also can play either corner infield spot, and coach Bob Talpas said he's probably the team's best catcher as well, although Talpas has been reluctant to use him behind the plate because of the added wear and tear on his arm.

McMartin also outdueled Watkins Memorial's Rob Sexton, a left-hander who has signed to play at Wright State, when the Eagles overcame an early 2-0 deficit to win an OCC-Capital game 3-2 April 9.

McMartin was 5-3 with a 1.32 ERA last spring.

"He's got more movement on his fastball now and he's tightened his curveball up," Talpas said. "He's gotten stronger and put on some weight, too.

"He still has that little kid love for the game, and the same goes for most of our seniors."

The Eagles were 12-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing the first game in the Big Walnut series April 23. The final two OCC-Capital series are against Delaware and Mount Vernon. Every team had at least two league losses before April 23, and McMartin said

Orange's run-rule victory over the Eagles was an eye-opener.

"That was definitely a rough game. It was a windy day and we didn't play to the conditions," he said. "We know we're better than that, and we've got to show that over these last few league games if we want to win the division."

McMartin's grade in his senior seminar class, after all, might depend on it.