The Upper Arlington High School softball team finds itself in a tight battle for the OCC-Central Division championship.

The Upper Arlington High School softball team finds itself in a tight battle for the OCC-Central Division championship.

Heading into play last Tuesday, the defending league champion Golden Bears were tied for first in the OCC-Central with Central Crossing and Hilliard Davidson in terms of losses, as all three teams had two.

UA was 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Worthington Kilbourne last Tuesday. The Bears lost to Central Crossing 2-1 in nine innings on April 12.

UA's final four league games will be played Friday at Westland, Monday at home against Davidson, Wednesday at Dublin Coffman and May 6 at Hilliard Darby.

The Bears defeated Westland 1-0 on April 14 behind a no-hitter by pitcher Audrey Plant and edged Davidson 2-1 on April 16 as Plant pitched a five-hitter and catcher Kasi Vazquez drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning.

UA rolled to a 9-3 win over Coffman on April 19.

"I think in our OCC, the talent is more spread out this year, which makes every game more important," Plant said. "You have to be on your game every single game. If we take it one game at a time like we've been doing, we should be OK."

Even though Westland won only one of its first eight OCC-Central games, the Cougars had a chance to pull off the upset against UA because pitcher Brandi Rees nearly matched Plant's performance. Rees had nine strikeouts and allowed three hits. Third baseman Taylor Miley singled home Vazquez in the third inning for the game's only run.

Plant had 15 strikeouts and only one walk.

"They played us tooth and nail, right down to the wire," DelBoccio said of Westland. "It goes to show we have to be ready for everyone in our conference."

UA avenged its other OCC-Central setback - 3-0 to Thomas Worthington on April 5 - by defeating the Cardinals 1-0 in 16 innings in a game that began April 21 but was suspended because of darkness and completed April 22. Plant and Mandie Abbruzzesse combined on a three-hitter, and Vazquez had three hits and drove in the winning run.

Plant pitched 12 2/3 innings, striking out 25 while allowing only two hits and one walk.

"Audrey pitched a great game," DelBoccio said.

Through 12 games, Vazquez was hitting .464 with two home runs, six RBI and eight runs, shortstop Katie Luciano was batting .429 with eight runs, Abbruzzesse was hitting .313 with two home runs and five RBI and designated player Sarah Watson was batting .310 with six RBI and four runs.

"We're coming together," DelBoccio said. "Our defense is playing extremely well. It's our offense that struggling a bit."

UA's team batting average through 12 games was .258.

"We have players who consistently have good games, but we need several other players to break out," DelBoccio said.

•TRIP CANCELED - UA was supposed to participate in the Kentucky 5 Star Classic last Friday and Saturday in London, Ky., but the Bears did not make the trip because the weather in Kentucky called for severe storms.

"There was the threat of a tornado," DelBoccio said. "With the weather looking so bad, we decided not to go. It was very disappointing for us. The kids were looking forward to the trip and we were looking forward to playing some quality teams."

The Bears were scheduled to play four games in the event, including contests against Owensboro (Ky.) Catholic, Morristown (Tenn.) East and Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette. Owensboro Catholic is the defending state champion in Kentucky.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Upper Arlington softball team:

April 13 - Lost to Teays Valley 7-5

*April 14 - Defeated Westland 1-0

*April 16 - Def. Hilliard Davidson 2-1

*April 19 - Def. Dublin Coffman 9-3

*April 22 - Def. Thomas Worthington 1-0 in 16 innings

*Last Monday - Game against Hilliard Darby postponed to May 6

*Last Tuesday - Played Worthington Kilbourne

*Last Wednesday - Played Central Crossing

Today - Home vs. Lakewood

*Friday - At Westland

Saturday - Home vs. Hartley and Pickerington Central

*Monday - Home vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Wednesday - At Dublin Coffman

Of note: The Bears were 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game