DeSales High School boys lacrosse coach Matt Triplet wouldn't necessarily have scheduled four games in seven days coming out of a week-long midseason break.
But Triplet hopes that, if nothing else, the Stallions completed that stretch with a better gauge on where they stand with the postseason on the horizon. Each of the four games was against fellow Division II teams.
"This was our all-star break, so to speak, and it was a good time for us to regroup," said Triplet, whose team started 7-0 but lost its last two games before the break, falling to Westerville Central 8-7 in three overtimes April 11 and Worthington Kilbourne 11-6 on April 15. "It was a good time for us to re-evaluate our success and what we need to change. The offense has jelled. The defense is starting to figure itself out, too, improving their instincts and knowing what's best matchup-wise."
The Stallions began the second half of their season -- they played nine games before their break and were scheduled to play nine after -- with a 15-6 win over Bexley on April 23, followed by a 10-8 win over Delaware on April 25 and a 10-1 win over Toledo St. Francis on April 26.
DeSales, which plays an independent schedule, was 10-2 before facing Granville on April 29.
Triplet said both his offense and defense were starting to find their way as April progressed. No one player has established himself as the offensive leader, as several players have shouldered the load, helping DeSales average 9.7 goals through 12 games.
Nick Musci had a season-high five goals in an 18-1 win over Aurora (Ontario) St. Andrew's College on April 6. McLean Fitzmartin and Tucker Yinger both scored four against Bexley, with Musci and Chris Stoll each adding three.
"Nick had a strong freshman year and he's grown mentally to a place where he can take a leading role," Triplet said. "His big brother (Alex, a 2013 graduate) isn't here anymore and Nick has found his own place. McLean and Tucker are calming voices on the offensive side of the ball, too. They've all done a great job working together."
Four of DeSales' final five regular-season games are against Division I teams. The Stallions visit St. Charles on Saturday, May 3, and Pickerington Central on May 8 before home games against Cincinnati Turpin (May 10), Dublin Scioto (May 12) and Westerville North (May 14) in its regular-season finale.
Turpin is in Division II.
"Honestly, the schedule just fell this way for us," Triplet said. "You like to start the year slow and then build your way up as the season goes. But these games, they're a bellwether for us."
Road trip brings out best in baseball team
With the meat of the CCL schedule awaiting his team upon its return from a week-long stay in Myrtle Beach, S.C., baseball coach Tom Neubert couldn't have asked for a better trip.
DeSales played as well as it has all season, going 4-1 against unfamiliar competition at Ripken Experience. The Stallions opened the event by beating Liverpool (N.Y.) 8-2 on April 21 and defeated Denver (N.C.) East Lincoln 2-1 on April 22, Fredericksburg (Va.) Massaponax 7-0 on April 23 and Medford (N.J.) Lenape 7-1 on April 24. They lost to Blackpool (N.J.) Highland Regional 3-2 on April 21.
Justin Borghese had an inside-the-park grand slam against Massaponax, and DeSales scored six runs in the seventh inning to down Liverpool.
"That was a great five-game stretch," said Neubert, whose team was 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the CCL before playing Hartley on April 29. "Coming up to the trip, we hadn't played at nearly the level I know we're capable of. The trip couldn't have come at a better time. Our pitching had been a letdown, and it was not (last) week. We only gave up seven runs in five games."
Through 15 games, Justin Thompson was batting a team-best .474 (27 hits, 2 triples, 13 RBI). Other key offensive contributors included Bryan Stopar (.444, 20 hits, 7 RBI), Aaron Kienzle (.368, 14 hits, 1 home run, 2 triples) and Borghese (12 RBI).
The Stallions began the second half of CCL play April 30 against St. Charles. Hartley, St. Charles and Watterson each entered the week with one league loss.
"If we can keep taking care of our own business like we have and maybe have one of those teams get knocked off, we'll be in good shape," Neubert said. "We were able to relax and play baseball, and we took the approach we need to take every time out."
Tennis team working toward postseason
The boys tennis team won only three matches last season and was 1-5 overall before facing Watterson in its CCL opener April 28, but coach Rob Lehner hopes this year's schedule will translate to more postseason success.
"We got to (the Division II) sectional last year and I didn't feel like we were ready to play some of those top teams," Lehner said. "The guys have struggled, and we know that, but we have faced the top teams in (Division II) this year and some in Division I, too. I want us to know what it takes to put our best foot forward by the time we get to sectional. I want them to have seen enough (quality opponents) to be comfortable, and sometimes you have to take your lumps for that to happen."
DeSales' lone win entering the week was against Granville, 3-2 on April 10. Its losses came against Bexley (5-0 on April 2), Upper Arlington B (4-1 on April 8), Gahanna (5-0 on April 9), Columbus Academy (5-0 on April 16) and Watkins Memorial (5-0 on April 23).
Like the Stallions, Academy and Bexley are in Division II.
Sonny DiMichaelangelo, DeSales' only Division II district qualifier last year, has played first singles all year. Kevin Boyer and Jake Mulligan both have had playing time at second singles, and Mack Beidler and Charlie Mitchell have split time at third singles.
Beidler, Mitchell and Armando DiMichaelangelo have alternated at first doubles, with Beidler, Boyer, Mitchell, Mulligan and Dominic Belvedere all having seen playing time at second doubles.
With many players being out of town last week on spring break, Lehner used a hybrid lineup of varsity and junior varsity players against Watkins Memorial.
"Some guys work together better in doubles, and some don't," Lehner said. "The thing is, we might practice three or four times the rest of the year. It's not ideal to tinker with things in matches, but it's something we have to do."