After losing to first-place Worthington Kilbourne 3-2 in eight innings April 26 and falling behind New Albany 10-0 in the first inning April 27, the Westerville Central High School softball team was in need of a quick turnaround.
The Warhawks received that needed spark, rallying to defeat the Eagles 13-12 in nine innings at home in a Strike Out Cancer game under the lights in the stadium.
"We lost a real tough one against Kilbourne in extra innings and I was hoping the girls would respond well," coach Brian Wamsley said. "We talked about it afterwards because it was a heartbreaking loss. It was a disappointing loss, but I was very proud of the way the girls came back and battled."
Central was 7-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, second behind Kilbourne (7-1), before playing Westerville South on May 1.
The Wolves swept the series with the Warhawks, also winning 2-1 on April 10 at Kilbourne.
In the rematch, junior pitcher Paige McMenemy had a no-hitter entering the sixth inning, but the Wolves scored twice in the sixth and the winning run in the eighth.
Against New Albany, the Warhawks allowed 10 runs in the first on just four hits.
Trailing 11-5 in the sixth, Central tied the game on McMenemy's two-run home run and senior first baseman Adrienne Nelson's grand slam.
"That's my best hit in my career," Nelson said. "It was a perfect pitch and I just felt it go. I was so excited because we were tied. This team never gives up."
The Warhawks added an unearned run later in the inning to take their first lead at 12-11.
New Albany tied the game in the top of the seventh on Kaitlyn Gliha's two-out RBI double.
Central won it in the bottom of the ninth when sophomore Hannah Carter (3B) singled and scored on a single by junior Allie Haines (C/1B/P).
McMenemy earned the win in relief, pitching the final 8 1/3 innings. She struck out 15.
Through 14 games, McMenemy was 9-4 with a 1.43 ERA, 143 strikeouts and 23 walks in 88 1/3 innings. She also was leading the team with a .540 batting average and 28 RBI.
"Paige has been great, she's been a trooper," Wamsley said. "She's a tired kid, there's no doubt about that."
Senior leadoff hitter Perry Wallinger (CF/C/SS) was hitting .458, followed by Haines at .455, Carter at .333 and junior Morgan Ciehanski (SS) at .325.
Haines, McMenemy and Wallinger each had three home runs.
North looking to remain in league race
North entered the week looking to remain in the OCC-Cardinal title chase, as it was tied with South at 5-3.
The Warriors handed Kilbourne its first league loss, 1-0 on April 25, behind freshman pitcher Sammy Kilbane's three-hitter.
"It was a nice win," coach Joe Francisco said. "They're a good team. We got out of some tough situations defensively. The kids responded and played very well."
The Warriors visit Kilbourne on Monday, May 6.
North's week also included defeating Dublin Scioto 10-0 in five innings April 26.
The Warriors play host to South on Wednesday, May 8, looking to avenge a 5-4 loss April 22.
"We're a little behind in some areas," Francisco said. "We started with 10 things we wanted to do and we've gotten to six. I'm just proud as punch of these kids. It's just a pleasure to coach them. They're just a great group of kids."
South coach wants more progress
South won four of six games last week, including defeating North.
Mackenzie Daugherty (OF/INF) tripled and doubled for the Wildcats.
"I thought we'd be a little further along at this point," coach Jerry Kelbley said. "Our whole game just needs to keep getting better all the time. I'm pleased with our defense. Our outfield has been real strong for us this year. They've made some really good plays for us. The infield works hard and they play well together, so I'm pleased with that."
Through 14 games, Chelsea Raker (3B/1B) was hitting .547, followed by Lizzy Rietema (C) at .387, Daugherty at .365, Sophie Winegard (1B/OF) at .324 and Leah Ross (P) at .308.
Ross was 7-6 with a 3.06 ERA, 65 strikeouts and 12 walks in 84 2/3 innings.
"What a workhorse," Kelbley said of Ross. "She just goes out and gives it everything she has every game. I don't see any quit in her. She just does what she can do the best and that's it. That's all you can ask out of anybody."