The Watterson High School softball team held a ceremony honoring its eight senior starters before playing Ready in its CCL finale May 1.
Those players then helped the Eagles defeat the Silver Knights 11-0 in six innings to capture their first CCL title since 2008 and their first outright league championship since 2004.
Watterson finished 6-0 in the CCL, ahead of DeSales (2-4), Hartley (2-4) and Ready (2-4).
"Winning the CCL is huge for our team because we haven't done it in a long time," coach Tracey Cultice said. "Our seniors aren't used to doing well in the CCL, so going undefeated in their last season here is a phenomenal way for them to go out. Seven of our nine batters had at least one hit and all of our girls were involved in us playing an error-free game, so this is a great way to wrap up our seniors' last CCL game."
Senior pitcher Kayla Cook tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and went 3-for-4 at the plate. Senior catcher Audrey Manahan also went 3-for-4 at the plate, hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and a three-run homer in the sixth to end the game by run-rule.
Manahan was mobbed by her teammates as she crossed home plate.
"To have a senior pitch a great game and have another senior hit a walk-off home run was the perfect way to end our senior day," Cultice said.
Even though Watterson won all of its CCL games, Cultice said going undefeated in league play for the first time since 2004 wasn't easy.
The Eagles beat DeSales 10-8 on April 15 and 7-1 on April 25,to earn their first wins over the Stallions since 2008. They also trailed Hartley 1-0 until scoring six runs in the fourth inning en route to a 6-1 win over the Hawks on April 17.
"All of our CCL wins were huge, especially both games against DeSales because our seniors had never beaten them," Cultice said.
Watterson has a .360 team batting average, with second baseman Alexis Mayle (.467, 13 RBI), Cook (.404), center fielder Katey Bell (.400, 10 RBI), first baseman Katie Manahan (.389, 14 RBI), Audrey Manahan (.380, 3 home runs, 15 RBI), shortstop Maddie Marotti (.379, 3 home runs) and third baseman Lily Sisamuth (.367, 3 home runs) leading the way.
In the circle, Cook is 11-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 87 innings.
Cultice said the Eagles will need to keep their hitting up to make a run at their first Division I district title.
"Kayla's pitching has been lights-out," Cultice said. "This is one of the best hitting teams we've had at Watterson, and if we keep hitting this way in the tournament, I think we'll have a shot at going a long way."
The Eagles have a .950 fielding percentage, but Cultice said they need to avoid making errors at crucial times like they did during a 2-1 loss to Grove City on April 27 and a 14-3, six-inning loss to Granville on May 2.
Watterson had two errors that led to two unearned runs for Grove City in the sixth inning and had five errors against Granville.
"I have a lot of confidence in all of our girls, so we just need to make routine plays to cut down on the errors," Cultice said. "Grove City was the No. 3-ranked team in our district when we played them, and we would have beat them if we hadn't have made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes at the wrong time."
The Division I district tournament draw was held May 5. First-round games will be played Tuesday, May 14.
Boys volleyball team starting to peak
Even though the boys volleyball team split its four matches last week, coach Nicole Baka was pleased with her team's overall play.
The Eagles lost to Mount Vernon 25-17, 25-22, 19-25, 21-25, 15-11 on April 29. Outside hitter Zack Storc had 20 kills and four blocks and setter Matt Randolph had 29 assists and 15 kills.
Watterson rebounded to beat St. Charles 25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-10 in its CCL finale May 3.
Randolph (28 assists, 9 aces), Storc (26 kills, 5 blocks) and middle hitter Matt Hughes (12 kills) led the Eagles, who finished second (2-2) in the CCL, behind DeSales (4-0) and ahead of St. Charles (0-4).
On May 4, Watterson beat Westerville Central 25-13, 25-20, 25-10 and lost to Clayton Northmont 25-11, 25-27, 25-20, 25-19.
Randolph had 25 assists, six kills and nine aces against Central and 23 assists and six kills against Northmont. Storc had 14 kills against Central and 13 kills and five blocks against Northmont.
"We lost to a couple of tough teams last week, but we're playing our best volleyball of the season right now," Baka said. "Matt Randolph is leading us in assists and aces and Zack Storc is leading us in kills. Matt Hughes has been able to play in only seven of our first 20 matches because he missed some time with a concussion, and Zack Storc missed some matches with a shoulder injury. But (middle hitter) Adam Schnitkey stepped up his hitting and (libero) Parker Costello stepped up his defense in their absence.
"And now we're healthy and playing our best volleyball at the end of the season."
Baseball team falls from CCL title race
The baseball team was eliminated from contention for the CCL title last week with losses to Ready (2-1 on April 30) and DeSales (6-4 on May 1).
The Eagles bounced back to beat St. Charles 7-2 in a league game May 3 and a 12-6 win over Hilliard Bradley on May 4. Greg Jacknewitz was the winning pitcher against the Cardinals and Nathan Giangardella got the win against Bradley.
The Division II district tournament draw was held May 5. First-round games will be played Tuesday, May 14.