First-year Reynoldsburg High School softball coach Rich Hogle likes the way his team is handling adversity.

First-year Reynoldsburg High School softball coach Rich Hogle likes the way his team is handling adversity.

The Raiders were 0-12 overall and 0-8 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Groveport on April 24, but Hogle said the players are maintaining a positive attitude even though the losses continue to mount.

"Our kids have never quit. They keep playing hard until the game is over," said Hogle, who was an assistant coach with the Raiders the past two seasons. "They get along tremendously well.

"A lot of the kids are just green – with little softball experience. In many ways, it's like we're a junior varsity team trying to compete in a varsity league."

Not helping Reynoldsburg is the fact that it is in the OCC-Ohio, which features some of the top Division I teams in the area.

This spring, Pickerington Central won 14 of its first 16 games, Grove City won 13 of its first 15 and Lancaster won 10 of its first 15. Central was ranked seventh in the first Division I state poll.

Another league foe, Gahanna, reached the state final last season before losing to North Canton Hoover 4-2.

Reynoldsburg, which entered the game against Groveport on a 42-game losing streak in OCC-Ohio play, was outscored 131-11 in its first eight league contests. Its last league victory was a 2-0 win over Lancaster on April 29, 2009.

"Their attitude has been pretty good," Hogle said of his players. "They are like sponges trying to learn and correct their mistakes. But when you're getting beat constantly, it's hard to be happy. It's hard to stay positive when you're getting your head handed to you every night."

The players realize the importance of staying upbeat and supporting one another.

"We are being positive," sophomore left fielder Kaitlyn Cress said. "I've been on teams that were separated, but this team is connected. We are friends on and off the field."

"Last year, if someone made a mistake, we would hold grudges against each other and even ourselves," junior right fielder Cierra Tuff said. "But this year, we're playing with more heart and playing as a team."

Even though it may not be reflected in the team's record, Cress and Tuff have seen improvement.

"The team is learning to be more aggressive on the bases, the infield is getting better (and) we are paying attention to (hitting and baserunning) signs," Cress said. "At the plate, we are getting good at making more contact."

"We're improving our defense and our offensive skills are getting better," Tuff said. "We're swinging the bats better and hanging in there."
Hogle would like to see his players cut down on errors and show more confidence in themselves.

"It will come," he said. "It would be good to pull out a win before the (district tournament, which starts May 7). Sooner or later, it will click. We've got good backing from the school and the parents."

"We need to focus on minimizing the errors, eliminate that one bad inning," Cress said. "We need to play stronger on defense (and) do things like dive for balls and sacrifice our bodies to get the out."

On April 19, the Raiders played their first game on their new field at the high school's Summit Road campus, losing to Delaware 11-1 in five innings. The next day, they played their first league game on the field, losing to Grove City 20-1 in five innings.

Reynoldsburg had been playing on a field at Baldwin Junior High School, which is close to Interstate 70.

"It's something we can be proud of," Cress said of the new field. "It's a little rough in spots, but the best part is it's not by the highway."

"We're thankful for all the hard work and effort that went into it," Tuff said. "Before the Grove City game, I heard some of their parents talking about how nice it was."