The New Albany High School softball team had a lengthy meeting after practice April 16, attempting to right the course after losing three consecutive games by a combined score of 34-4.
Coach Patrick Finn left no stone unturned, including switching players' positions and preaching a team-first attitude in an attempt to bolster his team heading into the second half of the OCC-Capital Division schedule.
"We got into a little bit of a rough stretch," said Finn, whose team entered the week 4-9 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital. "The focus got away from the team and back to the individual, and the game plan suffered. We have to get back to the style of play where we won't go out and think about ourselves, but think about each other and what's best for the team."
A lack of outdoor practices compounded the issues that would come with any position change, not to mention a handful at once. Finn moved sophomore Jamie Sevenish to shortstop from the outfield, junior Jackie Drago from the outfield to second base, junior Abi Simpson from second base to third and put junior Kaitlyn Gliha into center field from shortstop.
April 16 was only the Eagles' second outdoor practice, and that preceded a stretch of eight games in nine days.
"(The changes are) more defensively, seeing what works best," Finn said. "Who can cut off more balls? Who can make the better lines in the outfield to get to balls? We just didn't have a lot of outside time to figure these things out, so now we're doing them in game situations.
"We believe in every single one of these girls, that they can step in wherever we need."
Led by Sevenish, a left-handed slap hitter, New Albany averaged 7.3 runs in its first six games before hitting an offensive lull in mid-April. The Eagles lost two games at Granville on April 13, 14-0 to the host Blue Aces and 9-3 to Dresden Tri-Valley, then lost to Olentangy 11-1 on April 13 and Big Walnut 2-0 on April 17 in league games.
Gliha helped snap New Albany's slump April 18, hitting her second home run of the season as the Eagles defeated Watkins Memorial 10-0. She had a grand slam in a 9-8 win over Franklin Heights on April 10.
Gliha was hitting .562 with 18 hits and 16 RBI, all team-highs through 11 games, followed by Sevenish (.436, 17 hits, 13 runs) and junior outfielder Abbie Skowron (.333, 9 hits).
"You have to figure out different ways to show your talent, and slap hitting ended up being one for me," Sevenish said. "I had to make myself better as a hitter and just someone contributing to my team. Coach believes I can hit the ball, and it's something I can be good at."
New Albany started the second round of league play April 24 at home against Olentangy Orange. That was scheduled to be the third of four league games this week, because an April 12 game against Delaware was rained out and rescheduled for April 23.
New Albany's only breaks from league play the next two weeks are doubleheaders at Westerville Central with Canal Winchester on Saturday, April 27, and at DeSales with Central Crossing on May 4.
"We have to believe in our abilities," Sevenish said. "We know what we can do."
Track and field team showing depth
Senior Alex Frye of the boys track and field team scored 30 points in the Stingel Invitational on April 13 at Pickerington North, winning the high jump (6 feet, 6 inches), 110-meter hurdles (14.95 seconds) and 300 hurdles (40.32) as the Eagles (109 points) finished second behind North (146.5) as 15 teams scored.
"I think in the region, the two deepest teams are us and Pickerington North," coach Chad Olinger said. "Alex is one of the best in the region, if not the best, in all of his events. He's just gotten better every year. Freshman year, he had a huge learning curve. Sophomore year, he became a great hurdler. Junior year, we threw in the high jump and he became excellent at hurdles."
According to Ohio MileSplit rankings, Frye was tied for the sixth-best high jump in the state entering this past weekend. He was sixth in the 300 hurdles with a 40.11 recorded April 6 in the Wildcat Premier at Hilliard Davidson and 15th in the state in the 110 hurdles.
Olinger also lauded middle-distance runners C.J. Stringer and Zack Buck, a senior and sophomore, respectively, as well as seniors Darron Lee and Alan Watson and junior O.B. Oppong. The latter three are pacing the Eagles' 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
Buck was second in the 800 (2:00.93) in the Stingel Invitational.
"And that's all happening with the colder weather we've had," Olinger said. "I can't wait to see what they can do when it warms up."
Senior Dena White's win the long jump (16-2 3/4) led the girls to a sixth-place finish (58) in the Stingel Invitational behind champion Gahanna (133) as 14 teams scored.
Sophomore Karrington Winters' 57.71 in the 400 at the Wildcat Premier was the state's best entering the weekend, according to MileSplit.
Baseball team halts league skid
The baseball team emphatically put a stop to its 0-3 start in the OCC-Capital, edging Delaware 4-3 on April 17 before run-ruling Franklin Heights 28-2 on April 18.
Junior outfielder Victor Chamberlain's third-inning grand slam highlighted an 11-run third inning for the Eagles, who had lost to the Falcons 16-3 in five innings April 15.
Those wins, coupled with a 9-6 victory over Newark and a 5-1 loss to Westerville South on April 20, had the Eagles at 6-8 overall and 2-3 in the league entering the week.