The Olentangy High School softball team was on a roll heading into a Division II district semifinal against Lakewood on May 19 at Pickerington Central.

The Olentangy High School softball team was on a roll heading into a Division II district semifinal against Lakewood on May 19 at Pickerington Central.

The 11th-seeded Braves had won nine consecutive games, including an 18-0 victory over Eastmoor Academy in five innings in the first round on May 13 and a 3-2 upset over ninth-seeded Hartley in the second round on May 15.

But none of that mattered to the second-seeded Lancers, as they dismantled Olentangy 10-0 in five innings.

"We were on a good roll and felt very confident coming into this game, but we ran into a buzzsaw," said coach Marty Mearhoff, whose squad finished 17-13 overall. "We battled evenly with them for three innings, but they're a very good team and the wheels came off for us in the fifth."

Pitcher Alyssa Patznick, who had 10 strikeouts, broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning by belting a three-run home run. The Lancers then broke through for seven more runs in the fifth to end the game by run-rule.

"We had them until they hit that three-run home run and then everything went downhill for us from there," shortstop Ally Bayless said.

The Braves struggled early in the season, starting 1-7, and ended up finishing fifth in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 6-8, behind co-champions Marysville and Olentangy Liberty (11-3), Westerville Central (10-4) and Westerville North (7-7) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (5-9), Westerville South (5-9) and Dublin Jerome (1-13).

But Olentangy picked up a pair of exciting wins in games that each lasted 10 innings, beating Westerville South 1-0 on April 16 and defeating Big Walnut 7-6 on May 7.

Outfielder Biz Brehm drove in the winning run with a double against South and center fielder Lauren Bayless drove in the winning run with a single against Big Walnut.

"I'm proud of the girls because we had a rough start and we managed to finish strong," Mearhoff said. "We play in a very difficult conference so any OCC-Cardinal win is huge, but our wins against Westerville South (including a 3-2 victory on May 3) were both great games."

Olentangy loses four senior starters in Ally Bayless (SS), Lauren Bayless (CF), Amanda Graham (P/1B) and Kaeli Weaver (3B).

Ally Bayless batted .283 with a .440 on-base percentage and Graham hit .264 with a .315 on-base percentage.

In the circle, Graham was 8-7 with a 1.98 ERA, 86 strikeouts and eight walks in 95 1/3 innings.

The Braves expect to return six starters in juniors Ashley Forsythe (LF), Kate Matias (RF) and Lindsey Stanley (C) and sophomores Haleigh Breuer (P/1B), Courtney Price (DH) and Amanda Wojta (2B). Brehm, a sophomore, also is expected to return.

Stanley batted .344 with 19 RBI and 21 runs scored, Breuer hit .323 with 11 RBI and Wojta batted .239 with 18 RBI and a .356 on-base percentage. In the circle, Breuer was 9-6 with a 1.81 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 108 1/3 innings.

"We'll be looking for a lot out of Haleigh next year as our only returning pitcher," Mearhoff said. "Next year will be interesting because we've got some critical positions to fill, but that's the fun of coaching high school sports."