Westerville North High School baseball coach Sean Ring believes he should receive an indication of his team's progress when it faces Westerville Central in a pair of OCC-Cardinal Division games next week.
The Warriors play host to the Warhawks on Monday, April 22, and visit Central on Wednesday, April 24.
Last season, North won both games, 8-2 and 5-2.
"It's really fun playing the other Westerville schools," Ring said. "The kids know each other. The coaches know each other very well. We're all very good friends and very good competitors, so it's nice to play those hometown games. It has that feel of a good, old-fashioned rivalry when we play South or Central."
After losing 10 players from last season to graduation, Ring knew he had holes to fill, and he has been pleased with his team's development.
The Warriors were 5-6 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Dublin Scioto on April 16.
"Being a coach you're never happy, you're always looking for things to work on, but I think we're OK," he said. "Some of the things that I thought would be issues for us have been strengths. We're definitely hitting the ball very well and we're going to make some changes defensively that will help us in the long run, so we're ironing the kinks out now and hopefully in the second half of the season we'll have a nice run."
North began the season 3-0 then lost five consecutive games before defeating host Hilliard Davidson 15-6 in the first game of a doubleheader April 13.
The Warriors scored 10 runs in the top of the sixth inning.
North lost the second game 15-1 in five innings.
"That was an all offensive day from both sides," Ring said.
Through 11 games, senior Kevin Hackett (OF) was hitting .448, while senior Michael Cooper (1B/3B) and sophomore Joe Beekman (OF) both were hitting .429. Senior Davon Harris (INF/P) was hitting .343 and junior Josh Kovacs (P/1B) was at .321.
Central coach likes team's development
Central also was hit hard by graduation, losing 11 players from a year ago, but coach Jeff Keifer has been pleased with his team's development.
The Warhawks split two games at Thomas Worthington on April 13, losing to the Cardinals 7-0 and defeating Northridge 4-2.
"I really like how we've progressed," Keifer said. "We've found a way to win some close games and have had some timely hits. Our defense has been pretty good. We're still a work in progress."
The Warhawks were 7-5 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Hilliard Bradley on April 17.
Senior Tyler Bertelsen was the winning pitcher against Northridge. He retired the final 20 batters in his complete-game effort.
Through 10 games, senior Sawyer Allen (C/P/INF) was hitting .389, followed by seniors Joe Swisher (P/SS) at .364 and Bobby Spiers (OF) at .325.
Keifer said sophomore Nick Buchanan has emerged as the ace of the pitching staff. He was 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA.
Senior Nick Conkins was 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA.
South rebounding after last year's struggles
After finishing 7-19 last season, South coach Tim Bates believed it was important for his team to get out to a good start.
The Wildcats were 5-4 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley on April 16.
"It's a much better start than last year, but I still have questions about our inconsistency," Bates said. "A coach always thinks that they should be doing better than we are. From our preseason, I thought our record would be one or two wins better than it is right now."
An early highlight was a 6-1 win over Worthington Kilbourne on April 10, avenging a 4-2 loss to the Wolves on April 8.
Jake Robinson was the winning pitcher in the rematch. He allowed one hit and struck out 13 in the complete-game performance.
"Jake pitched his best game ever in high school," Bates said. "He's lived up to his expectations and my expectations."
The Wildcats scored in double figures in wins over Buckeye Valley (11-1 on March 30), Westland (15-0 on April 2) and Uniontown Green (12-6 on April 6).
Bates said that through eight games, seven players were hitting over .300 and five players were over .400 in on-base percentage.
Junior Tom Ingledue (OF) was hitting .450, followed by senior Connor Horan (1B) at .421, junior Jack Michael (OF/P) at .353, Robinson (.348) and junior Tim Bates (SS) at .360.
Robinson was 2-2 with a 3.11 ERA.