Upper Arlington High School softball coach Todd DelBoccio anticipated his team's matchup with Gahanna in a Division I district final May 20 at Pickerington Central would be tightly contested.

Upper Arlington High School softball coach Todd DelBoccio anticipated his team's matchup with Gahanna in a Division I district final May 20 at Pickerington Central would be tightly contested.

"We said at practice (the day before the game) that it was going to be one mistake, one hit, one play where one team wins the game," he said. "It wasn't a mistake (that decided the game), it was one play."

Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, that play was made by second-seeded Gahanna.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning, Lions center fielder Tiyona Marshall singled to left field to drive in the game's only run, lifting Gahanna to a 1-0 win over the fifth-seeded Bears.

Ranked fourth in the final state poll, Gahanna improved to 24-5 and advanced to a regional semifinal against Dresden Tri-Valley last Wednesday. Seventh-ranked UA, which was making its first district final appearance since 1997, finished 21-5.

"Even though Gahanna came out with the win, both teams played really hard and gave all we had," catcher Kasi Vazquez said. "There's nothing to hang our heads about. ... It's upsetting, but that's how it is. You win some, and you lose some in sports."

Pitcher Audrey Plant allowed nine hits and five walks, including four to Lions catcher Kayla Ledbetter, the 2009 district Player of the Year and a Miami University recruit. Plant, a Delaware signee, struck out 13.

Lions pitcher Kim Lennox allowed eight hits, three walks and a hit batter and struck out 16. UA, which hasn't won a district championship since 1994, left a runner on third base in the second, sixth and seventh innings.

"We had our opportunities," said DelBoccio, whose team beat Gahanna 2-0 on April 10. "We left 13 on base. We hit the ball hard. We just hit it right at people. It was a hard-fought game. I give (Gahanna) credit for the (winning) hit, but it's a shame that somebody has to lose like that."

"I knew it was going to be a battle," Plant said. "We just ended up not scoring, and you can't win if you can't score. ... It was a hard loss, but I think everyone can say they played their hardest."

The loss was only the second for UA in its final 18 games. The other was 3-1 to third-ranked Lebanon on May 15.

"We won 14 games in a row, and that's something that's very difficult to do, especially in central Ohio," DelBoccio said. "I believe the only team to do that (this season) was (top-ranked) Grove City. We didn't shy (away) from anyone. We played a very difficult schedule."

UA opened the tournament with a 5-0 win over Logan in the second round May 13 and defeated 10th-seeded Mount Vernon 1-0 in a district semifinal May 18 as Plant allowed only two hits and no walks and struck out 17.

Although the Bears weren't able to win a district championship, they did celebrate their second consecutive OCC-Central Division title, marking the first time they have won back-to-back OCC championships.

UA went 12-2 in the OCC-Central, finishing ahead of Central Crossing (11-3), Hilliard Davidson (10-4), Hilliard Darby (7-7), Thomas Worthington (6-8), Dublin Coffman (4-10), Westland (3-11) and Worthington Kilbourne (3-11).

The Bears lose six seniors in Plant, Vazquez, Jesse Barlow (OF), Katie Luciano (SS), Taylor Miley (3B) and Kelsey Shalvoy (OF). All six were starters, and Plant and Vazquez were four-year starters.

Plant was 16-4 with a 0.67 ERA and 279 strikeouts in 178 innings. Vazquez, a Dayton recruit, led the team in batting average (.486), RBI (21), runs (19) and home runs (8). Luciano hit .341 with 10 RBI and 17 runs, Barlow hit .268 with five RBI and eight runs and Miley hit .243 with seven RBI and six runs.

Plant was named first-team all-state, all-district and all-league and Vazquez made second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league. Luciano was first-team all-district and all-league and Barlow and Miley made special mention all-league.

"They were a special class," DelBoccio said of the seniors. "They've been with us since we've taken over the program (in 2008). They were the building blocks of the program. It's a sad day to see them go, but they're going to move on to bigger and better things. We're very proud of those kids."

UA's overall record the last three seasons was 65-17, including 47-7 the last two years.

"My freshman year I wanted to put Upper Arlington softball back on the map and I feel like now we (get) more respect," Plant said.

Among those expected to return are juniors Kasey Bennett (OF), Brooke Hauser (1B), Sarah Garrett (INF/OF), Sarah Watson (DP/OF) and sophomores Mandie Abbruzzesse (CF/P) and Julia Zwayer (2B).

Hauser hit .246 with nine RBI and seven runs, Watson hit .240 with 11 RBI and eight runs and Abbruzzesse hit .244 with eight RBI and seven runs and was 5-1 with a 0.51 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 41 innings.

Abbruzzesse was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league and Hauser made honorable mention all-league.

At a glance

Record: 21-5 overall, 12-2 (first) in OCC-Central Seniors lost: Jesse Barlow, Katie Luciano, Taylor Miley, Audrey Plant, Kelsey Shalvoy and Kasi Vazquez Key returnees: Mandie Abbruzzesse, Brooke Hauser and Sarah Watson