Despite his team's early season struggles, Westland High School baseball coach Dave Daniels said his players haven't lost their enthusiasm for the sport or their motivation to learn.
The Cougars were 0-8 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Thomas Worthington on April 17. They lost their first league meeting with the Cardinals 11-1 in six innings April 11 at home.
"They keep fighting and we compete as much as we can and then, before you know it, we're down 5-0, 6-0, 7-0," Daniels said. "We never let the wind out of our sails, we keep fighting. But once you get down like that, the other team only needs a two- or three-run inning and then they have you behind the eight-ball."
The Cougars lost to Hilliard Davidson 11-1 in five innings in a league game April 16. The teams meet again Monday, April 21, at Westland.
After a scoreless first inning, Davidson took control by scoring six runs in the second inning. Pitcher Nolan Lee took the loss.
"We don't play a full game, we play well for a while," Daniels said. "Nolan was pitching pretty good early on and then they started to hit him. They had four or five hits and then we had a costly error and it was 5-0."
According to Daniels, another example of the Cougars playing well for stretches in a game was their 13-5 league loss to Marysville on April 9 at home. Westland led 3-1 in the third inning, but the Monarchs tied the game at 3 in the third inning and scored three runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and four in the seventh.
"Our defense hasn't been great, but it really hasn't been that bad recently," Daniels said. "Our pitching has been OK. We just don't hit. We just don't threaten (to score) nearly enough. When we do get baserunners on, then we pop out or strike out and strand them. We're going to have to figure out some way of being able to score some runs."
One of the standouts for the Cougars thus far has been utility player Josh Binion, who had two of the Cougars' four hits against Davidson.
"He's a sophomore and he's going to be a good player someday," Daniels said. "He's already playing well for us. He's going to develop. He's a real smart kid, hard worker. He's the kind of kid (that) you give him some coaching or tell him something and it's done. You don't have to worry about it again. He gets it and he soaks it in. He comprehends it and he applies it. I wish I had more like him."
Softball coach finds positives in losses
Softball coach Kerry Maher said his team had some positive moments in a 15-5 home loss to Dublin Coffman in an OCC-Central game April 16.
Westland led 4-1 after two innings and 5-4 through four innings, but the Shamrocks went ahead 7-5 in the fifth and took control with seven runs in the sixth.
"We came out and we were playing well," Maher said. "There's a lot of positives to take away. We got a lot of runners on base."
Kaitlyn Willming led the Cougars with three hits and, according to Maher, Hannah Matheny pitched well in the loss.
Westland, which was 1-7 overall before playing Columbus West and Franklin Heights on April 19 and is 0-5 in the OCC-Central, also had a good start to the second game of its doubleheader against Rey-noldsburg on April 12.
The Cougars scored three runs in the top of the first inning and the game was tied at 6 through two innings, but the Raiders broke the game open with a six-run fourth and went on to win 16-9.
Reynoldsburg won the first game 11-1 in six innings.
Maher said sophomores Emilee Sturgell (SS) and Nicole Zaayer (2B) were promoted from the junior varsity and have moved into the starting lineup.
"They've worked really hard since we met in the spring," Maher said. "They've been playing hard."
Track teams compete in meet at Darby
The track and field teams competed in the Panther Invitational on April 11 at Hilliard Darby.
The boys team scored 13 points to finish last of eight teams, behind champion Davidson (158), as Ivan Suazo placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.8 seconds) and James Pack placed fifth in the discus (124 feet, 1 inch).
The girls team also finished eighth, behind champion Davidson (123), with the 3,200 relay of Donna Mayhew, Heidi Paxson, Kelly Draves and Hannah Festog placing sixth (11:38.29) and Mayhew finishing seventh in the 1,600 (5:54.28).
"We knew that with our young squad that there would be some growing pains this year," coach Tim Eckard said. "The Panther Invitational was one of those painful moments with regard to points scored.
"Our kids had a lot of (personal records). We are getting better each and every meet. It's just that with running so many freshmen and first-time runners against a lot of veteran juniors and seniors at your perennial powerhouse schools, that the learning curve for some of our kids is steep."
Westland's meet at Central Crossing on April 15 was postponed because of bad weather.