First-year Westland High School softball coach Kerry Maher is looking forward to experiencing the Division I district tournament for the first time.
The Cougars are seeded 43rd of 45 teams and play at 36th-seeded Newark in the first round Tuesday, May 13.
Westland was 3-20 overall and 0-12 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Hilliard Davidson on May 8. Newark, which is in the OCC-Ohio, was 5-12 before playing Lancaster on May 9.
"If we play to the best of our ability, we can play in a ballgame with them," Maher said. "We're getting there as long as we can keep the girls to continue to play hard."
The first-round winner plays at top-seeded Marysville in the second round Thursday, May 15. The Cougars were swept by the Monarchs in OCC-Central play, losing 18-1 on April 10 and 11-0 on May 6.
According to Maher, Westland showed improvement from the first game against Marys-ville to the second. In the second game, the Cougars had two hits, getting singles from Kaitlyn Willming and Kaylee Barber, and Maher was pleased with the pitching performance by Hannah Matheny.
The second-round winner plays 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley, 36th-seeded Newark or 44th-seeded Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal May 20 at Pickerington North.
Westland lost both games of a doubleheader against visiting Madison Plains on May 3, falling 7-3 in the first game and 5-4 in the second.
Madison Plains scored the winning run in the second game in the top of the seventh inning.
"We're getting better," Maher said. "Our pitching is getting a little bit stronger, the defense is playing a little more cohesive and we're going up to the plate confident. We have girls on our team who can hit. Everybody is capable of producing."
Baseball team preps for district tourney
Seeded last of 45 teams, the baseball team will open the Division I district tournament in the second round Wednesday, May 14, at top-seeded Thomas Worthington.
Both teams have a first-round bye.
Westland lost both OCC-Central games against Thomas, falling 11-1 on April 11 and 13-2 on April 17.
The first-round winner faces 12th-seeded Davidson, 19th-seeded Whetstone or 31st-seeded Canal Winchester in a district semifinal May 19 at Dublin Coffman.
The Cougars lost to Davidson 11-1 on April 16 and 8-3 on April 20 but have not played Whetstone or Canal Winchester this season.
Westland was 0-21 overall before playing Westerville South on May 8 and 0-13 in the OCC-Central before playing Central Crossing on May 9. The Cougars lost to the Comets 11-0 on May 7.
Westland lost to Olentangy Liberty 10-0 in an OCC-Central game May 6 after losing to the Patriots 31-0 on April 23. In the rematch, the Cougars managed only one hit in five innings, a single by Brandon Cabral.
"This was much better," coach Dave Daniels said of the second game against Liberty. "We didn't hit the ball. That's been our bugaboo all season long. We didn't hit the ball enough. We played solid defense. We had two errors. The last time we played these guys, we just couldn't catch a cold. They're the second (seed) in the district for a reason. They're pretty solid."
Even though the Cougars were winless entering play May 8, senior shortstop and pitcher Daniel McBee believes the team is improving.
"We're getting better. We're improving every day," McBee said. "It's a struggle right now. We're just down because we keep losing, but we're bouncing back now and everything is looking bright. We always stick together, even through hard times. We're like a family. I wouldn't trade it for a thing."
Tennis team getting set for sectional play
Members of the boys tennis team will compete in the Division I sectional Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, at Davidson.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 22 and 24 at Davidson.
Westland, which was 7-8 overall before playing Teays Valley on May 8, defeated host Hamilton Township 5-0 on May 7.
Winning were Peer Brendler at first singles, Bryan Moreno at second singles, Roman Novikov at third singles, Grant Bare and Jonathan Marshall at first doubles and Jordan Bare and Zach Prak at second doubles.
Westland saw its four-match winning streak come to an end with a 3-2 loss to visiting Hilliard Darby on May 6.
Winning were Grant Bare and Moreno at first doubles and Jordan Bare and Prak at second doubles.
The Cougars defeated Franklin Heights 5-0 on May 1 at home.
Winning were Moreno at first singles, Prak at second singles, Brendler at third singles, Marshall and Grant Bare at first doubles and Jordan Bare and Novikov at second doubles.
Westland competed in the seventh-place OCC tournament May 10 at Westerville Central with Mount Vernon of the OCC-Capital, Newark of the OCC-Ohio and Westerville Central of the OCC-Cardinal.
Track teams preparing for OCC-Central meet
The track and field teams will compete in the OCC-Central meet Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, at Thomas.
"I want our kids to show up and compete at the league meet," coach Tim Eckard said. "I expect our veterans to score some serious points at the meet and, hopefully, some of our young kids can sneak a point or two away from some of the other team's veterans. I'm realistic that we will not win the league meet, but I know that we can score good points if our kids reach or exceed their personal records."
Westland competed in a tri-meet May 6.
The girls team scored 46 points to finish ahead of host Groveport (43) and Northland (40), as Donna Mayhew won the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 35.6 seconds), Elizabeth Finley won the 3,200 (14:15), Colynn Taylor won the shot put (30 feet, 4 inches) and Brittney Rodgers won the discus (88-1).
The boys team finished third (32) behind Groveport (78) and Northland (34).
Winners were Ivan Suazo in the 110 hurdles (14.9), wheelchair competitor Tim Bailey in the 800 (2:06) and Bryce Long in the 3,200 (11:34).