Instead of playing basketball last winter, Sam Severance opted to prepare for his senior season with the Watterson High School baseball team.
That decision has paid off, according to coach Scott Manahan.
Severance had a .412 batting average with three home runs, six triples, nine doubles, 24 RBI and 35 runs through 25 games. One of his home runs was a grand slam that helped the fourth-seeded Eagles rally from a two-run deficit to defeat sixth-seeded Lakewood 6-4 in a Division II district semifinal May 19 at Gahanna.
"I encourage our students to play as many sports as they want to, but Sam made the difficult decision to not play basketball this season because he wanted to get an earlier start on baseball," Manahan said. "Sam's worked really hard on his game and it's paid dividends for him and for us as a team because he's having a terrific season. His grand slam made a big difference for us (against Lakewood) and he's been making big plays for us all season."
Lakewood scored three runs in the top of the second inning to take a 3-1 lead. But in the bottom of the third inning, Teddy Walter drove in a run by drawing a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2 and set the stage for Severance.
It was the second grand slam of the season for Severance, who hit the first in the top of the seventh inning of a CCL game at Hartley on May 2 to help the Eagles rally from a five-run deficit to win 7-5.
Sam Rice was the winning pitcher against Lakewood, scattering eight hits over seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
"After he gave up the three runs in the third inning, Sam found his curveball and changeup and kept them at bay," Manahan said.
Watterson was 18-7 before playing top-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a district final May 23 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
The district champion faces Jackson or Logan Elm in a regional semifinal Thursday, May 29, at Gant Memorial Stadium in Zanesville. The semifinal winner will play Dover, Minerva, New Concord John Glenn or Steubenville in a regional final Friday, May 30, at Gant Memorial Stadium.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 6 at Huntington Park.
"We just need to continue doing what we've been doing for most of the season, which is pitching exceptionally well, playing good defense and hitting the ball well," Manahan said. "If we take care of the basics, we'll have a shot at winning championships. Our goal is to screw up our school's plans for graduation and the other end-of-year stuff by making people come watch us play baseball deep into the spring."
Through 25 games, Mitch Stotler (.410, 20 runs), Avery Janning (.311, 25 RBI), Jacob Bolton (.377), Bobby Truelove (.333, 13 RBI) and Joe DiOrio (.333, 19 runs) were among the Eagles' offensive leaders.
On the mound, Rice was 7-1 with a save, a 0.80 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 13 walks in 52 innings, Chris Slavik was 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA, 33 strikeouts and nine walks in 27 2/3 innings and Sean Helenthal was 1-1 with a 1.90 ERA.
Season ends for girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team ended an up-and-down season with a 20-13 loss at Hartley in the first round of the Division II South/Central Region tournament May 12.
Watterson, which finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, finished 9-8 overall.
The Eagles went 2-5 in the Central Independent League to tie Granville for sixth. Bexley, Columbus Academy and DeSales all went 6-1 to tie for first, and Columbus School for Girls and Hartley tied for fourth at 3-4. Wellington was eighth at 0-7.
"We stayed healthy and things went well enough for us to have a winning season," coach Jack Conte said. "We had moments where we looked like a team of destiny, like we did during the last week of the season when we went 3-0 and beat a really solid team in Westerville Central (15-12 on May 6). But we were inconsistent and we would follow that up with a collapse like we did against Hartley in the tournament."
The Eagles lose two senior starters in attackers Mackenzie James and Grace Traini.
James had 72 goals and five assists and was named second-team all-region and first-team all-league.
Among those expected back are 11 players who started or were key contributors in juniors Taylor Brown (midfielder), Amy Buening (midfielder), Jennifer Buening (midfielder), Angela Elmo (defender), Julia Kuhn (attacker), Margret McGowan (defender) and Ellie Wood (attacker), sophomore Ashley Smith (goalkeeper) and freshmen Kiera Mulchay (midfielder), Anne Reed (attacker) and Torie Sullivan (attacker).
Wood, who scored nine goals in a 13-12 overtime victory over CSG on May 7, finished with 81 goals and four assists and was named first-team all-region and all-league. Sullivan had 27 goals and eight assists and was second-team all-region and first-team all-league, Elmo was second-team all-region and all-league and Reed had 17 goals and two assists.
"We have a lot of good athletes coming back, so we're expecting some really good things next year," Conte said. "I will be disappointed if we don't go at least 10-6 next season."
Boys lacrosse team wins tourney opener
The boys lacrosse team defeated 12th-seeded Big Walnut 18-2 in a Division II Central/Northwest Region play-in game May 21 at home.
Tommy Hatem scored six goals for the fourth-seeded Eagles and Eli Kirk and Hunter Spencer each scored two.
Watterson was 8-7 before playing host to fifth-seeded Granville in the first round May 23. The winner played at top-seeded DeSales, ninth-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne or 13th-seeded Toledo Central Catholic in a regional semifinal May 28.
The semifinal winner will face top-seeded Toledo St. Francis, sixth-seeded Sylvania Southview, seventh-seeded Academy, eighth-seeded Sylvania Northview or 14th-seeded Bowling Green in a regional final Saturday, May 31, at an undetermined neutral site.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 4.
Boys volleyball team competes at state
The boys volleyball team was 18-7 before playing Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in a state semifinal May 24 at Hamilton.
The winner faced Cincinnati McNicholas or Kettering Alter in the state championship match May 25 at Hamilton.
Doubles team competes at district
Stev Gregory and Michael Guza of the boys tennis team competed in the Division II district tournament May 23 and 24 at Academy in doubles. The top two finishers in doubles advanced to state Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, at Ohio State.
Garrett, relay reach regional track meet
The girls track and field team competed in the Division I, district 3 meet May 21, 22 and 24 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional, which began May 28 and concludes Friday, May 30, at Pickerington North.
Qualifying for regional during the first two days of district were Dominique Garrett in the discus (second, 112 feet, 5 inches) and the 3,200-meter relay of Amy Griffith, Jess Passwater, Sam Mikula and Grace Thomas (fourth, 9 minutes, 40.91 seconds).
The boys team competed in the Division II, district 2 meet May 20, 21 and 24 at Heath, but did not have any regional qualifiers during the first two days of district.
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional Thursday, May 29, and Saturday, May 31, at Lexington. The top four finishers in each regional event in Division I and II advance to state June 6 and 7 at Ohio State.