The Pickerington High School Central baseball team has rolled through the first half of its regular season schedule. After 13 games, the Tigers had won seven of eight conference games and their only non-conference loss came in the second game of a doubleheader against Massillon Jackson (10-6 loss on April 3).

The Pickerington High School Central baseball team has rolled through the first half of its regular season schedule. After 13 games, the Tigers had won seven of eight conference games and their only non-conference loss came in the second game of a doubleheader against Massillon Jackson (10-6 loss on April 3).

"We're kicking butt," senior catcher Ethan Way said. "We're playing up to our potential right now. If we keep it up, we'll do good this year."

Way, who is in his third season on varsity, has been a part of the program's resurgence. In 2008, Central finished 16-10 for its first winning season since 2005 and last season the Tigers improved to 19-9.

"You always want to do good and it adds a little more when it's your last year in high school," Way said. "Everyone is staying focused and we have a lot of talent this year. Everybody is focused on reaching the same goal and, if we continue that, we'll be hard to be beat."

Way may wear all the catching equipment, but he has the best seat when it comes to witnessing the Tigers' strength - their pitching staff. Senior Nic Rush, junior Isaac Beller and sophomores Zach Beaver and Evan Jensen are the featured arms of Central's rotation.

"We're getting great pitching," coach Chick Campbell said. "We're just playing good baseball. We're getting timely hitting and our lineup, one through nine, is moving the ball. We don't have any easy outs."

Timely two-out hits helped Central sweep its season series with Pickerington North. The teams played twice in a four-day span, with Central winning 12-2 on April 20 and 6-2 on April 23.

"Four of the six runs scored against North (on April 23) were with two outs," Campbell said. "Our overall attitude and approach to the game has been great. That's what's helped our success."

Before last Tuesday, Central was second in the OCC-Ohio Division at 7-1, behind Grove City at 8-0 and ahead of Gahanna and Reynoldsburg at 6-3, North at 5-4, Lancaster at 2-7, Newark at 1-8 and Groveport at 0-9.

Central's first-round game against Grove City on April 16 was suspended because of darkness. The Tigers lead 12-7 in the top of the 11th inning with a runner on second base and no outs. The game will be competed before the second-round meeting on Monday.

Grove City improved to 16-2 overall after winning the Newark Tournament last Saturday, beating Upper Arlington 7-1 and Hilliard Davidson 8-3.

The Greyhounds were ranked fourth in the Division I state poll last week, behind defending state champion Cincinnati Moeller, Liberty Township Lakota East and Olentangy Liberty.

"Our guys are definitely working to remain at that level," Grove City coach Ryan Alexander said. "We're not blowing anybody out, so we better play good defense and pitch well. Those two things have happened for us. We're always going to score around seven to eight runs. If our pitching performs the way it's capable of, we can hold opponents under seven or eight runs."

Monday's game with Grove City included, Central has a battle on its hands in the second round of conference play. Regardless of the outcome, the high-intensity games should provide examples of the postseason atmosphere.

"There is some great competition in our league," Campbell said. "You better be prepared and, if you do that, you'll be ready for the (Division I district) tournament."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Central and North baseball teams:

CENTRAL

*April 20 - Defeated North 12-2

*April 21 - Def. Lancaster 10-3

*Last Friday - Def. North 6-2

*Last Tuesday - Played Gahanna in game rescheduled from last Monday

*Last Wednesday - Played Groveport

*Friday - At Newark

Saturday - Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Monday - Home vs. Grove City

Tuesday - Home vs. Upper Arlington

*Wednesday - At Reynoldsburg

Of note: The Tigers were 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

NORTH

*April 20 - Lost to Central 12-2

*April 21 - Def. Groveport 16-1

*Last Friday - Lost to Central 6-2

Last Saturday - Def. Canfield 9-6

*Last Monday - Game against Reynoldsburg postponed

*Last Wednesday - Played Gahanna

*Friday - At Lancaster

Saturday - Home vs. Olentangy Liberty and West Chester Lakota West

*Monday - Home vs. Newark

*Wednesday - At Grove City

Of note: The Panthers were 12-7 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Ohio game