The Olentangy Orange High School baseball team averaged 6.5 runs in its first six games -- all wins -- despite playing without one of its top hitters.
Brady Harris, who had a shoulder injury, made his season debut in a 9-4 win over New Albany on April 10 in an OCC-Capital Division contest, and in their first three games with him in the lineup, the Pioneers averaged 12.7 runs.
According to coach Phil Callaghan, the senior first baseman/catcher has made an impact with the Pioneers even though opposing pitchers aren't giving him much to hit. Last season, Harris batted .451 with 29 RBI, a home run, 12 doubles and three triples and scored 31 runs and had nine stolen bases.
"In his first game back, Brady walked three times and missed a home run by five feet or so in his four plate appearances," said Callaghan, whose team was 10-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital after beating Olentangy 8-1 on April 15. The teams met again April 16. "That might not seem like much in the box score, but people were pitching around him."
The Pioneers had a .339 team batting average through seven games. Among their offensive leaders were senior catcher/outfielder/pitcher Alec McCurry (.545, 6 RBI, 8 runs), freshman first baseman Colin Sheppard (.500, 5 RBI, 7 runs, 3 stolen bases), junior third baseman Cody McCague (.429, 8 RBI, 7 runs, 6 doubles), senior pitcher/third baseman Paul Trick (.409, 6 RBI, 5 runs), sophomore shortstop/pitcher Tyler Johnson (.357) and junior outfielder Matt Smith (.333).
On the mound, Trick was 2-0 and had 17 strikeouts and had allowed no earned runs in 13 innings. Johnson was 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings, and McCurry had two saves and had allowed no earned errors in 2 2/3 innings.
"We have definitely pitched well and we have been scoring runs," Callaghan said. "We're young enough that we will be making plenty of mistakes, but I'm happy with their willingness to learn from those mistakes. That has been a very big positive."
The Pioneers defeated Bexley 17-9 and Canal Winchester 12-7 on April 13.
Young players energizing Patriots
Liberty was 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central after losing to Upper Arlington 7-6 on April 15.
The Patriots defeated the Golden Bears 7-5 on April 13.
"Our kids are pretty young, but with that youth comes energy and excitement," coach Ty Brenning said. "They play hard and try to prove that they belong. Whether it's in a game or in practice, they come out trying to grow as players."
Liberty defeated Central Crossing 15-8 in its league opener April 8. The second league game between the teams was suspended April 10 with the Patriots leading 8-0 in the fourth inning. The contest was to have been completed April 16.
Through seven games, junior third baseman Jacob Niggemeyer had a team-high .480 batting average. Other top hitters for the Patriots included sophomore shortstop/catcher Cameron Comer (.392), junior first baseman/outfielder Marcus Wechselberger (.364), senior first baseman Max Gunn (.350), senior second baseman/ outfielder Louis Firmstone (.333) and junior shortstop Danny Kirchner (.323).
"We have smart kids who are trying to turn their athleticism into skill," Brenning said. "We're starting to grow as a team, and if we continue that over the next month, it can be an exciting season."
Braves focusing on winning philosophy
Olentangy was 8-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing Orange on April 16.
The Braves defeated Liberty 9-3 in a non-league game April 5 at Ohio State and swept Big Walnut in league play, winning 5-2 on April 8 and 8-2 on April 10. They lost to Dublin Coffman 10-3 in a non-league game April 3.
"We have a philosophy that you're either winning or learning," coach Ryan Lucas said. "Before the season started, we didn't know if we had a group of guys that were in the winning phase or learning phase. Now it seems we understand how to win multiple ways and the kids are having fun on the field."
The Braves were hitting .319 as a team through nine games. Among their offensive leaders were junior outfielder/second baseman Tim Feasel (.556, 8 RBI, 10 runs, 5 doubles), senior shortstop/outfielder Christian Brett (.382, 7 runs, 2 triples), senior outfielder Griffin Binkley (.370, 6 RBI, 12 runs) and sophomore catcher Joe McGuinness (.304, 7 runs).
On the mound, senior Casey Stanley was 2-0 with one save and a 2.33 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, senior Jacob Kaylor was 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 12 innings and junior Nick Emery was 1-0 with two saves and a 3.13 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.