After a slow start, the Westland High School softball team began a march back to the .500 mark and was looking to build momentum heading into the Division I district tournament.

The Cougars entered a game against Westerville Central last Thursday and the South-Western Spring Classic last Friday having won three in a row, highlighted by a 5-4 decision in eight innings over OCC-Ohio Division-rival Gahanna last Wednesday. The win avenged a 9-0 loss April 7.

After a slow start, the Westland High School softball team began a march back to the .500 mark and was looking to build momentum heading into the Division I district tournament.

The Cougars entered a game against Westerville Central last Thursday and the South-Western Spring Classic last Friday having won three in a row, highlighted by a 5-4 decision in eight innings over OCC-Ohio Division-rival Gahanna last Wednesday. The win avenged a 9-0 loss April 7.

"We've always had the heart," said coach Mike North, whose team improved to 6-10 overall and 2-4 in the OCC. "At the beginning of the season we got those first couple of wins and we got a little happy with ourselves. Then some stuff happened, situations that we couldn't control, but now that we have everybody back, everybody has the confidence that we can win. It was a long time coming."

The Cougars will visit Newark on Monday and Groveport on Wednesday looking to avenge two other earlier defeats. Newark edged Westland 3-2 on April 9 and Groveport won 7-5 on April 14.

Through last Wednesday, Newark, Groveport and Gahanna were tied for second in the division at 3-3 behind Hilliard Darby at 5-1.

Westland used a pair of clutch hits against Gahanna to pull out the victory. Carly Beasy's solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning forced the extra inning and Jessica Pemberton's infield single scored Brittany Justice with the winning run in the eighth. Pemberton had put the Cougars on the scoreboard in the third inning with her first home run at the varsity level.

"I've never hit a home run that big," Beasy said. "I was thinking I want to hit this ball. That's my thought when I go up there. I was thinking base hit."

"We're just getting better and better every single game," Pemberton said. "This win definitely kept our spirit up."

Westland earned its first OCC-Ohio win 8-0 over Lancaster last Monday as Brandi Rees allowed one hit and struck out 11. Lindsey Pennell and Beasy had three hits apiece.

Through 15 games, Pennell was batting .509, followed by Hailee Johnson at .396. Rees was 6-8 pitching with 130 strikeouts.

"Right now we want to finish 6-4 in the league and get a good draw in the tournament," North said. "We can't ask for anymore right now. We're the ones who put ourselves in this position and now we're digging our way out."

•The baseball team entered last Thursday's game Marion-Franklin looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Cougars dropped to 3-13 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio with a 14-1 loss to Gahanna last Wednesday.

They will return to action Monday when they visit Newark. The Wildcats defeated Westland 12-2 on April 9.

Westland's busy week will include home games against Westerville Central on Tuesday, Ready on Thursday and St. Charles (doubleheader) on Saturday, and a road game against Groveport on Wednesday. The Cougars lost to Groveport 8-4 on April 14.

"We're really inexperienced," coach David Daniels said. "We're learning on the job."

•The boys tennis team entered last Thursday's match against Groveport having won its last three matches by 3-2 scores. The Cougars defeated Marysville last Monday, Circleville last Tuesday and Briggs last Wednesday.

"We had some good wins this week," coach Dan Witteman said. "We were evenly matched against these teams."

Westland was 7-4 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Ohio.

The Cougars will visit Teays Valley on Monday and play host to Central Crossing on Tuesday before visiting league-rival Darby on Thursday.

"Our doubles teams have improved," Witteman said. "Devin Clanin is now playing first doubles and he and (Allan Flinch) have made a good team."

Senior Josh Maynard was hoping to return to the lineup this week after missing the match against Briggs with a nagging ankle injury. Maynard, the first-singles player, was expected to have the ankle reexamined Monday.

"We're getting better recognizing court situations and knowing what to do," Witteman said.

•The boys and girls track and field teams will return to action Tuesday when they visit Darby, then will compete in the Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights on Saturday.

The boys team lost to Groveport 78-59 last Tuesday. Mustafa Ahmed won the 800 meters (2:06.15) and 1,600 (5:10.69).

"Our boys are down," coach Tim Eckard said. "We have a bunch of young throwers and they're making progress, but they're just not quite there yet."

The girls lost to Groveport 78-50.

"If we can keep everybody healthy, our girls team is pretty good," Eckard said.

Kemekea Washington was first in the 100 (12.91) and 200 (26.99).

"Kemekea is having a good year," Eckard said. "She's probably our top sprinter. She anchors our (400 and 800 relays). She's taken some of these young kids under her wings, too, which is nice. She's taken a leadership role and she's scoring a bunch of points."

At the Best of the South-West meet April 18 at Central Crossing, the boys team was fourth (35) behind Central Crossing (95), Grove City (88) and Franklin Heights (37) and the girls team was fourth (55) behind Central Crossing (79), Grove City (61) and Franklin Heights (58).