Having five sophomores and one freshman as regulars in its lineup hasn't been easy for the Hartley High School baseball team to overcome this spring.

Having five sophomores and one freshman as regulars in its lineup hasn't been easy for the Hartley High School baseball team to overcome this spring.

Results such as a 12-0 loss to Jonathan Alder on April 11 were closer to the rule than the exception during a 1-6 start. The Hawks rebounded to defeat Amanda-Clearcreek 8-3 on April 12 and Briggs 13-3 on April 13, but their inexperience remains something they are attempting to conquer.

"We have talent, but we're being overmatched by teams that are better than us," coach Morgan Assmann said. "Game speed I think is important for these young kids to get used to. Curveballs are curving more and the fastballs are faster at the varsity level. We have to do a better job of swinging the bat. We have more strikeouts as a team than we do hits."

Junior Luke Heinmiller, who is a captain along with senior Austin Albert, has provided stability. A part-time starter as a freshman and the starting catcher last year, Heinmiller was hitting .421 through seven games.

Heinmiller started the season at shortstop but was moved to third base when freshman shortstop Adam Lowe was brought up from junior varsity.

Junior catcher Caleb Lewell was hitting .438 through seven games.

Drew Onega and Andrew Gilliland have been other key contributors despite being sophomores.

Junior Steven Marchionda missed action in early April with a concussion but was the winning pitcher against both Amanda-Clearcreek and Briggs.

Junior pitcher Adam Zevchik had season-ending back surgery in mid-April.

"We're not getting decent pitching performances and our strikeout ratio is pretty high," Assmann said. "St. Charles beat us 10-0 (on April 4) and we lost to Jonathan Alder 12-0. Those teams hit the ball extremely well. We have had some bad luck with injuries.

"We try to take something positive out of every game. If the score is 6-0, we're trying to act like it's 0-0 and try to score the next run. We're trying to be as positive as we can."

Softball team bounces back from rough start

The softball team refused to get down on itself after opening with three consecutive losses, coach Meghan Zuercher said.

The fact that those losses came against a pair of Division I programs in Pickerington Central (8-2 on March 24) and Central Crossing (8-0 on March 24) and a perennial power in Division II in Lakewood (13-10 on March 27) helped the Hawks keep things in perspective.

Hartley followed with six consecutive victories, including an 11-0 win over Olentangy on March 31 that avenged an 8-7 loss in a Division II district semifinal last season.

"They did bounce back relatively well, and a lot of that was because they knew how tough our schedule was," Zuercher said. "We weren't really shocked by (the 0-3 start), just more disappointed. That opening weekend you have all of the expectations for it being a season opener and the girls want to enjoy their opening day. We played Lakewood pretty tough, and that kind of rejuvenated us."

Much of the success Hartley had during its winning streak came because of its offense.

Through 11 games, Anna Kirk was hitting .636, Allie Smith was batting .437 and Cassie Plageman had 13 RBI.

Tiffany Wolf and Reyna Grundy have been splitting time at pitcher.

Junior Sidney Melton was expected to miss all of April with an injury but returned during the first week of the month and had hits in eight of her first 11 at-bats.

"Cassie Plageman has proven to be very important behind the plate," Zuercher said. "We've been talking about the importance of defense a lot because defense is the reason we lost some of these games.

"Anna Kirk has been hitting well and has drawn about a dozen walks. She's been batting third, but now she's (leading off) because I like her to see more pitches. Sidney Melton's surgeon cleared her and she has worked her butt off to get back. Having Sidney and Anna in our lineup is very important."