DeSales High School softball coach Julie Barber has seen teams take on different personalities during the 25 years that she has been involved with sport.
So while the Stallions' streaky nature this season concerns her, she isn't losing sleep over it.
"They're a younger group," Barber said after a 3-1 loss at Hartley on May 1 in which the Stallions were held to two hits. "Even my older kids, (for) some of them, it's their first year playing varsity. An experienced batter today would have let some of those balls come a little bit deeper in the zone, and our girls were really lunging and trying to attack the ball. We were anxious. There are days when we're able to stay very focused and put things together, and then days when that isn't so much the case."
The Stallions entered the week 10-9 overall and finished 2-4 in the CCL, tying Hartley (2-4) and Ready (2-4) for second behind Watterson (6-0).
Their longest winning streak is four games, with three of those victories coming against Division I schools in Olentangy (8-1 on April 6), Canal Winchester (6-2 on April 13) and Pickerington North (6-3 in nine innings on April 13).
Entering the week, DeSales had not lost more than two consecutive games.
But power has been lacking at times this spring. Through 17 games, the Stallions were hitting .230 as a team. Among the key offensive contributors are freshman infielder Leah Roten (.339 batting average, 10 RBI), junior infielder Chloe Biskner (.283, 7 RBI), freshman outfielder Taylor Freeman (.271, 6 RBI) and freshman catcher Jessie Hamilton (.243).
Hamilton and senior third baseman Anna Gentile shared the team lead in RBI with 14.
"We've been fairly consistent," Barber said. "My two pitchers (senior Kate Miltko and sophomore Emily Piatt) haven't hit too much. We have 12 girls we're comfortable hitting on any given day.
"At the bottom of the lineup, we're manufacturing some timely hits, some bunt-and-runs and some steals to make things happen. They're coming around. They're doing some good things."
DeSales has shown resilience. Two days after a 7-1 home loss to Watterson on April 25 and a day after a 6-0 loss to Holland Springfield in the Prebis Memorial Classic at LaGrange Keystone, the Stallions defeated Brecksville-Broadview Heights -- ranked eighth in the Division I state poll last week -- 8-7. Sophomore outfielder Elisa Curl went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a stolen base and two runs in the upset.
Through 17 games, Miltko had 45 strikeouts and 29 walks in 92 innings, with opponents batting .289 against her.
"We understand that it doesn't matter what your record is or who wins the CCL. It's who the last team is standing," Barber said. "If we learn something in a loss, then it's a worthwhile day."
DeSales will play host to Mifflin in the first round of the Division II district tournament Monday, May 13, with the winner playing host to Eastmoor Academy or Independence in the second round Wednesday, May 15.
The second-round winner plays second-seeded Lakewood, Beech-croft or Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal May 20 at Pickerington Central.
Boys tennis coach likes team's progress
The boys tennis team earned its first win under first-year coach Rob Lehner on April 30, defeating Hartley 5-0 in a CCL match.
That breakthrough followed what Lehner said was three weeks of steady progress with a lineup whose only returnees are juniors Mack Beidler and Sonny DiMichaelangelo.
"As a group, we're playing better," said Lehner, whose team entered the week 1-8 overall and 1-2 in the CCL. "We're making some of those tougher opponents, like Watterson and St. Charles, work for every point they earn. This year has been a good building block. A lot of our guys were inexperienced match play-wise, so they've struggled sometimes in this environment, but they're working themselves out of that."
DiMichaelangelo has played first singles in most of the Stallions' matches this season, but might play doubles in the postseason. The Division II sectional tournament will be held May 16 and 18 at Hilliard Davidson, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg or Upper Arlington.
Sophomore Kevin Boyer played a handful of matches at first singles when DiMichaelangelo was out sick in late April.
The Stallions had three players out with illness in a 3-2 loss at Worthington Christian in the first round of the Division II Ohio Tennis Coaches Association tournament April 20.
Lehner credited the leadership of seniors Stephan Ganobsik, Nick Hancart, Peter Tran and Quinn Verfurth for helping implement his beliefs with underclassmen.
"They've been around and they know how to win," Lehner said. "They set the tempo with the rest of the guys, and that's critical."
Blubaugh returns for boys lacrosse team
The boys lacrosse team recently welcomed back J.T. Blubaugh to its lineup.
The senior attacker and Ohio State signee missed the first five games because of an injury. He returned with a three-goal effort in a 7-5 win over St. Charles on April 27. He had two goals in a 9-8, double-overtime loss to Olentangy Orange on May 1 and scored three in a 14-9 win over Watterson on May 3.
DeSales was 6-2 entering the week.
"We've met as a team to discuss what we need to do personnel-wise," coach Matthew Triplet said. "(Sophomore attacker) Nick (Cannon) and (senior attacker) Matt Chadwick have been leaders on the field, and (freshman attacker) Nick Musci has made a difference and handled the pressure of playing varsity very well. J.T. has held his own, but it's going to take time for him to get used to the speed of the game again."
Musci scored the winning goal in a 9-8 overtime victory over New Albany on April 24.
"That was sort of a gut-check victory for us because I think the guys came in and overlooked (New Albany)," Triplet said. "They were ready to take us on, and luckily we withstood it and came out on top."