Centennial High School softball coach Malik Dean figured his team would need a big day at the plate to beat Whetstone in a key City League-North Division rematch May 7 after the Stars rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Braves 4-3 in eight innings April 11.
As it turned out, Dean was thrilled to be proven wrong, as his squad earned a 2-0 victory at Whetstone.
Natalie Thies tossed a four-hitter and Alyssa Dean drove in both runs with a double in the top of the second inning.
The next day, behind Thies' one-hitter and Alexis Thompson's grand slam, Centennial routed Beechcroft 17-1 in five innings to clinch its first City-North title since 2011.
The Stars play host to Briggs in the City championship game May 22.
"Whetstone's coach and I both thought this would be a higher-scoring game than the last one because our teams had already seen each other's pitchers," coach Dean said. "We had our chances to score more runs, but we didn't hit well to convert those opportunities. Natalie pitched a great game to slow them down and we played great defense behind her, making only one error the entire game."
The Stars also beat Brookhaven 15-3 on May 9 to finish 14-0 in the City-North and improve to 14-3 overall before playing Beechcroft in their Division II district tournament opener May 12.
The winner between 17th-seeded Beechcroft and 10th-seeded Centennial advanced to the second round May 14 at second-seeded Jonathan Alder. That winner advanced to a district semifinal Monday, May 19, at Pickerington North against sixth-seeded Heath, 18th-seeded Marion-Franklin or 20th-seeded Columbus International.
"If we can play defense as well as we did against Whetstone in the tournament, we'll win some games," coach Dean said. "Natalie's really matured into a good pitcher this season. We're tough up the middle defensively, too, with Natalie as our pitcher, Alyah Dean at shortstop, Alyssa Dean in center field and Taryn Wells at catcher."
Boys tennis team set for sectional
Boys tennis coach Barbara Stevenson said her team's season likely will come to an end in a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, at Hilliard Davidson.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 23 and 24 at Davidson, and none of the Stars are seeded to place that high at sectional.
Centennial's top two singles players, Weston Clarke and Ben Oatney, won't compete at sectional because they will be out of town participating in a retreat.
With that being the case, Stevenson's goal for her players is to see each of them win at least one match at sectional.
The teams of Phillip Wilburn and Ben Bendolph and Abdullah Aal-Ameertta and Edmond Shek will play doubles. Playing singles will be Sharif Moon, Sean Perry and Martin Yzeiri.
In a Division II sectional last year, Bendolph and Clarke went 1-1 in doubles and Yzeiri went 1-1 in singles.
"I think that each of our kids is in a bracket where they have a chance to win their first match of the tournament, but after that, they will run into big guns in the second round and will have a hard time winning," Stevenson said. "Our doubles teams both have an excellent shot at winning their first match. Our other three guys don't normally play singles and they are going there mostly for the experience, so I'll be real pleased if they make it to the second round."
The Stars lost to Beechcroft 3-2 on May 5 and defeated Linden-McKinley 5-0 on May 8 to finish 3-2 in the City-North. Centennial was 5-3 overall before playing Whitehall on May 12, Central Crossing on May 13 and Fisher Catholic on May 14.
In the City coaches tournament May 6 at Columbus South and May 7 at Wolfe Park, Clarke and Oatney went 3-0 to capture the doubles title. They defeated Whetstone's Alexander Embaie and Andrew Gadalski 6-1, 6-4 in the final.
Going 0-1 were the doubles team of Bendolph and Yzeiri and Perry, Shek and Wilburn in singles.
"It was fantastic to see Ben and Weston win doubles because that makes them first-team all-league," Stevenson said. "They are both really excited about that."
Track teams prep for postseason
The boys and girls track and field teams compete in the Division I, district 2 meet Tuesday, May 20, Wednesday, May 21, and May 24 at Hilliard Darby.
Both squads also competed in the City meet May 12 and 14 at Mifflin.
The boys squad finished seventh (34 points) in the 13-squad Warrior Relays on May 7 behind champion and host Eastmoor Academy (87).
Chisom Ifedi (20 feet, 9 1/2 inches) and Devante Brown (19-1) won the long-jump relay. Ifedi placed second in the high jump (6-2), and Anthony Slappy, Kevin Adams, Alijah Coale and Adam Slappy took fourth in the 3,200-meter relay (8 minutes, 58 seconds).
The girls team finished seventh (30) in the 15-squad Warrior Relays behind champion Gahanna (81).
Jazille Williams (4-10) and Marissa Robertson (4-10) won the high-jump relay, and DeAuja Thompson (15-2) and Izzi Luaces (14-6 1/2) finished second in the long-jump relay.
Alexis Vance-Townsend, Brianna Waderker, Jaleah Fair-Harris and Kate Ryan finished third in the mid-distance medley relay (8:08.22).
Baseball team opens postseason
The baseball team defeated Brookhaven 16-6 in five innings May 9 to finish 11-3 in the City-North and improve to 12-6 overall before playing 17th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in the first round of the Division II district tournament May 13.
Jimmy Martinez pitched a three-hitter against the Bearcats, who had beaten Centennial 11-9 on April 23.
With a win over Amanda-Clearcreek, the 16th-seeded Stars would play Thursday, May 15, at second-seeded Jonathan Alder.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, May 20, at DeSales against seventh-seeded Caledonia River Valley, 10th-seeded Big Walnut or 23rd-seeded Mifflin.
Centennial swept Mifflin this season, winning 11-1 in five innings April 10 and 16-3 in five innings May 6.