Two days after the Upper Arlington High School softball team lost to Hilliard Darby 4-0 in nine innings in a Division I district semifinal May 18, the players and coaching staff still were coming to grips with the fact the season was over.

Two days after the Upper Arlington High School softball team lost to Hilliard Darby 4-0 in nine innings in a Division I district semifinal May 18, the players and coaching staff still were coming to grips with the fact the season was over.

"It's better than the day we lost, but it's still emotional," senior third baseman Megan Streng said. "We expected to win. We feel we're the better team, so we had our hopes up. We definitely thought we'd go far in the tournament."

Third-seeded UA had a first-round bye and defeated Logan 10-0 in six innings in the second round May 14 before losing to Darby. The Panthers were not seeded in the top 12, but the teams had split their two OCC-Central Division games, with Darby winning 2-1 on April 27 and the Golden Bears winning 1-0 on April 8.

Darby defeated Dublin Coffman 10-2 in a district final May 20 to earn its second consecutive district title.

"We were telling the kids that it was the rubber match, kind of," coach Todd DelBoccio said. "Darby is a very solid team. We knew we'd be in a dogfight. We were talking about how we should have been playing them for the district championship or in a regional game. That's how good a team they are.

"It was disappointing. It stings a little and hurts. We had our sights set on higher things, and when you fall short, everyone feels it. But we told the kids to keep their heads high. We're extremely proud of the kids for what they accomplished."

UA, which was sixth in the final state poll, hasn't won a district title since 1994. But it finished 26-2 overall, bettering the previous program record for victories in a season set in 1986 (20-9).

The Bears earned their first OCC championship since 1994 and their first outright OCC title, going 13-1 in the OCC-Central to finish ahead of Darby (11-3), Thomas Worthington (7-7), Westland (7-7), Hilliard Davidson (6-8), Central Crossing (5-8), Coffman (5-9) and Worthington Kilbourne (1-12). A postponed game between Central Crossing and Kilbourne will not be made up.

"The goals we didn't accomplish this year are just going to have to wait for next year," DelBoccio said. "But the kids accomplished a lot this year. It seemed like they just kept checking things off the list.

"The (tournament) loss doesn't take away what the kids did. Going 26-2 is difficult, especially in our league and the non-league schedule that we played. We just have to look at the good things and not dwell on one particular game."

UA will lose seven seniors in Sarah Buffer (1B), Courtney Gossman (CF), Cortney Linard (OF), Courtney Martin (designated player/1B), Hannah Mealer (LF), Tabitha Shera (2B) and Megan Streng (3B). All but Linard were regular starters.

Streng batted .390 with 27 RBI and 22 runs and was second-team all-district and first-team all-league. Gossman hit .393 with 27 runs and 10 stolen bases and was second-team all-league. Shera made honorable mention all-league.

Expected to return are juniors Jesse Barlow (OF/3B), Katie Luciano (SS), Taylor Miley (OF), Audrey Plant (P), Kelsey Shalvoy (OF) and Kasi Vazquez (C), sophomore Brooke Hauser (C/INF) and freshman Mandie Abbruzzesse (RF/P). Luciano, Plant, Vazquez and Abbruzzesse were regular starters.

Plant went 22-2 with a 0.44 ERA and had 283 strikeouts in 173 2/3 innings and was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league. Vazquez batted .397 with 32 RBI, 15 runs and four home runs and was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district and all-league and Luciano hit .385 with 29 runs, 10 RBI and eight stole bases and made second-team all-league.

"With the players we have coming back, I know they'll always keep us in the game," DelBoccio said. "And we have a lot of good, young talent coming up. It will be interesting to see how they develop and grow."

At a glance

•Record: 26-2 overall, 13-1 (first) in OCC-Central

•Seniors lost: Sarah Buffer, Courtney Gossman, Cortney Linard, Courtney Martin, Hannah Mealer, Tabitha Shera and Megan Streng

•Key returnees: Mandie Abbruzzesse, Katie Luciano, Audrey Plant and Kasi Vazquez