Jake Gossman, a 2007 graduate of Westerville South High School, hasn't received the championship ring he earned this season as the No. 3 pitcher on the Heidelberg College baseball team, which won its second consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference title.

Jake Gossman, a 2007 graduate of Westerville South High School, hasn't received the championship ring he earned this season as the No. 3 pitcher on the Heidelberg College baseball team, which won its second consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference title.

As he and David Paddock, a 2005 graduate of Westerville North who was Heidelberg's ace, prepared for a photo shoot last Friday, Gossman pointed to Paddock's 2007 OAC championship ring and asked to see it.

"You'll be getting yours around October," Paddock said.

"It should've been two," Gossman said. "That one and the world series one."

Two months ago the two helped the Student Princes reach the Division III Mideast Regional Tournament final before losing to Adrian College 8-7 for a final loss in the double-elimination tournament. That ended Heidelberg's bid for a regional championship, but not before it finished with a program-best 41-10 record.

With the No. 2 pitcher graduating last spring, the two left-handers from Westerville are expected to be the anchors of the rotation next season on a team that has won three regular-season OAC championships and two OAC tournament titles since 2003. Gossman and Paddock are opposite by their hometown standards, but in Tiffin they're one in the same.

Paddock, a senior, is the old veteran. He's been Heidelberg's top pitcher for three seasons since starting at the school as a freshman. He's spending this summer playing for the Grand Lake Mariners of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.

After the photo shoot, Paddock had to drive two hours to Celina, where the Mariners play their home games.

Gossman is just getting started with his post-high school career. A sophomore at Heidelberg, he's staying home this summer, pitching for the Columbus Hawks. The two actually met playing for the Hawks last summer and never realized they'd be joining the same team in college until Gossman showed up for fall practice.

Last summer Paddock played for the Hawks on Sundays only, and he showed up for a tournament game on a Sunday and was introduced to Gossman, who played for the Columbus Braves. The Hawks had brought him in as a ringer for a weekend tournament.

That was when they were formally introduced, but they had their unofficial introduction as members of the North and South baseball teams in 2005. Gossman was a sophomore pitcher for South and he received the start against the Warriors, whose lineup included Paddock, then a senior.

North was vastly superior to the other Westerville schools that year, beating Central 15-2 in five innings and making quick work of South, winning 15-3 in five innings. Paddock reminded Gossman after the photo shoot that he remembered Gossman started that game for South. Gossman didn't deny that five runs crossed the plate while he was on the mound, but he wasn't taking all the blame for it.

"The first pitch was a pop-up to our shortstop," Gossman said. "It hits him in the face. Then in the second inning, easy ground ball, throws it away at first base. That's kind of how our year went."

They don't talk about these games often, and there's not much ribbing about going to opposite high schools now that they are on the same team, but both readily admit they can remember every time they played in a North-South game. The rivalry was intense. Paddock once came out of his house during North-South week in the football season of his senior year and the words "North Sucks" were scrawled across his driveway in spray paint. He looked up at the Warriors sign hanging up at his house. It may as well have been a bull's eye at target practice.

Gossman was never big on pulling off pranks when North and South played each other, he pretty much stayed out of it and since his team lost so convincingly to North in the only game in which he and Paddock both played, there isn't much ammunition for him to come at Paddock with other than to say South won both games once Paddock's class graduated -- not exactly a trump card.

"Well, after my class left, North was terrible," Paddock said.

Both players said their coach, Matt Palm, the OAC Coach of the Year last year, keeps them too busy to worry about a high-school rivalry. The two rarely get back for a game and Paddock counted they have 40 days off during the school year, which includes breaks. Every other day they're practicing. Last winter when record snowfall hit central Ohio, Tiffin wasn't exempt from the beating, and the two recall trudging through knee-high snow to baseball practice.

"Most of the time, we're just too tired," Paddock said. "Coach Palm really works us hard."

Once Paddock saw Gossman was on the team last fall, the two gravitated to each other, sharing a common ground. There was little of the North-South competition that exists inside city limits. In Tiffin the two were two left-handed pitchers from the same hometown whose fastballs top out at 87 mph. Paddock was one of the first ones to help Gossman make the adjustment to the college game.

"I saw him through fall ball, he struggled," Paddock said. "He would usually get frustrated and show a lot of body language. My forte is I don't show a lot of emotion. I tried to teach him how to restrain that. You're going to get mad. People are going to get hits. That's the game. After working with him and settling him down, he had a great year."

Gossman was 4-3 last year in 55 1/3 innings with a 2.28 ERA and 61 strikeouts. Paddock was 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA and 57 strikeouts while pitching a team-high 70 2/3 innings.