If there's one word to describe the Ready High School softball team's run through the Division III district tournament, senior second baseman Sammy Hawkins believes it might be "magical."
Second-year coach Jen Goff struggled to come up with an explanation for how her 16th-seeded team beat third-seeded Northridge (4-0 on May 15), fourth-seeded Liberty Union (15-2 on May 20 at Pickerington North) and fifth-seeded North Union (8-2 on May 25 at Pickerington Central).
The trend continued in Ready's 14-3, five-inning win over Brookville in a regional semifinal May 29 at Wright State, putting the program on the brink of its first state appearance since it was a semifinalist in 2009.
"I really can't explain how we're scoring more than the other teams and playing solid defense," Goff said. "We're catching fire at the right time and once they started doing that, they liked it. Our record is very deceiving. We had to play tough competition this year."
Ready was 14-15 before playing Casstown Miami East or Batavia Clermont Northeastern in a regional final June 1 at Wright State.
The regional champion plays Columbia Station Columbia, Leavittsburg LaBrae or Youngs-town Ursuline in a state semifinal at 12:30 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
The state final is 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8.
In the regional semifinal, Haylee Patel (CF) was 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs, Hawkins was 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs, Courtney Hackney (3B) was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Hailey Bryan (LF) was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Pitcher Julia Hall gave up three hits and walked two while striking out nine.
In the district final, North Union leadoff hitter Sydney Girton walked to begin the bottom of the first and scored on a groundout to make it 1-0.
After Ready loaded the bases but failed to score in the second, the Silver Knights sent nine batters to the plate in the third and scored five times. Bryan, Madison Gatley (SS), Shannan Waldo (1B) and Patel all had RBI singles. Ready scored its other run when Emily Finchum (C) hit one between the shortstop's legs.
The Silver Knights made it 6-2 in the sixth on Finchum's bases-loaded walk. They got a two-run homer over the right-field fence in the seventh by Hall, who also struck out 11.
"We lost a lot of games by one run this year, and we're coming together and peaking and it's great," Hall said. "Everyone's hitting the ball."
Boys track team moves on in 5 events
The boys track and field team left the Division II, district 1 meet with two champions among its five qualifiers for the regional May 30 and June 1 at Lexington.
Winning titles in the 13-team district meet held May 21, 22 and 25 at Westerville South were senior Taron Slone in the 200 meters (22.31 seconds) and sophomore Codi Platter in the 1,600 (4:42.2).
Also qualifying for regional were senior Daniel Perry in the 800 (third, 2:00.72), senior Jonas Wahl in the high jump (second, 6 feet) and Slone in the 100 (second, 11.19). The top four in each event advanced.
Wahl added a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (42.03) and the 1,600 relay also was fifth (3:35.82) to help Ready take seventh (50) behind champion Independence (91).
The top four in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at Ohio State.
Culbertson advances in girls track
The girls track team finished ninth (35) in the district 1 meet behind champion Granville (147.5).
Advancing to the regional was senior Carly Culbertson, who took second in the 200 (26.71) and third in the 100 (13.14).
Coming up just short of qualifying in two events was junior Allie Schroeder, who took fifth in the 100 hurdles (16.66) and 300 hurdles (49.42).
Baseball team to lose strong senior trio
The baseball team loses five seniors from a squad that earned the fourth seed for the Division III district tournament, including No. 1 pitcher Mitch McNabb, the versatile Ross Etgen (INF/OF/P) and center fielder Sean Mogan.
Etgen led the Silver Knights in batting (.449), RBI (42), runs (38), on-base percentage (.567) and stolen bases (23) while making first-team all-district and second-team all-CCL.
Mogan hit .375 with 29 RBI and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. McNabb was first-team all-league with a 2.82 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 55 innings.
Ready lost to 10th-seeded Heath 6-3 in the second round of the district tournament May 16 to finish 12-13 overall.
"There were a couple plays where we should have had a couple more runs," said coach Harry Caruso, who completed his fifth season. "It was 3-3 and I told them that if we let them hang around that they'd find a way to win. We came back and had the bases loaded in the seventh, so we didn't go down without a fight. We knew they played a tough schedule like us, and our kids were prepared."
Ready went 3-5 in the CCL to finish fourth behind St. Charles (7-1), DeSales (4-4) and Watterson (4-4) and ahead of Hartley (2-6).
The top expected returnees are juniors Hunter Clanin (C) and Jason Foster (P/1B/3B). Clanin hit .351 with 22 RBI and was second-team all-district and Foster batted .366 overall, including .462 in league play, and was first-team all-league.
Juniors Vincent Castorano (P), Patrick Feldkamp (P/OF), Gavin Gatley (2B) and Drew Hasenkamp (P/INF) are others who should be key returnees.
"We still have an opportunity to continue to grow as a program, but we need to come in in shape and do the extra things next year," Caruso said.
Boys tennis team losing 10 seniors
Of the 22 players in the boys tennis program 10 were seniors, including all seven of Ready's entrants in the Division II sectional May 16 at Columbus Academy.
Austin Vrancken made it to a sectional quarterfinal, Nick Berner lost in the second round and Scott Knapke lost in the first round in singles.
In doubles, Kris Clarke and Michael Pozz lost in the second round and Tyler Eggers and Spencer Heselden lost in the first round.
Ready went 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the CCL to place fourth behind St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1) and DeSales (2-2) and ahead of Hartley (0-4).
Sophomore Drew Dawson and freshmen Sean Atchison and Zach Baum are among those eligible to return.
"We had 22 players this year, but it was hard because a lot of the teams we played didn't have as many players as we had, so some of them ended up playing each other a lot," coach Jen Donaldson said. "It was hard to be positive with the weather we had this spring, but some of the seniors came out and tried to do the best they could because it was their first time playing tennis.
"I told (the returning players) that the best thing they can do is go out and play. The more you play, the better you become. (Vrancken) was losing to his dad at the beginning of the year but by the end of the year he was beating his dad. Now he's kind of bummed the season is over."