Freshman pitcher Sammy Kilbane of the Westerville North High School softball team is looking forward to her first Division I district tournament.
The 19th-seeded Warriors play host to 29th-seeded Newark on Tuesday, May 14, in the first round. The winner plays at seventh-seeded Worthington Kilbourne on May 16.
"I would say I'm a little naive about the tournament, but we just have to play our game and we'll be good," said Kilbane, who has helped the Warriors remain among the leaders in the OCC-Cardinal Division this spring. "I think we'll do well. We're looking to win a lot of games."
North returned to the .500 mark (9-9) for the first time since April 10 by defeating Hilliard Bradley 6-1 on May 3 at home.
The Warriors had lost to the Jaguars 1-0 on April 17.
"We all remembered that (first) game," Kilbane said. "We were very determined to beat them this time because it was a 1-0 game. We lost in the bottom of the seventh. It hurt a little, so we wanted to get after it this game."
Kilbane threw a four-hitter, striking out eight and walking four.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third inning when North scored six runs. The key hits were a two-run double by sophomore shortstop Halli Swiger and an RBI double by junior center fielder Mara Daugherty.
"Nothing was different this game," coach Joe Francisco said of the rematch with Bradley. "We hit the ball exactly the same way, but we hit it right at them the first time. We kept hitting shot after shot after shot and they played great defense. This time we found the gaps."
After pitching for the eighth-grade team at Walnut Springs Middle School last season, Kilbane realized the pace of the game would increase in high school.
"There's a big difference," she said. "Most hitters are good one through nine. There are a lot of bigger, stronger girls, so it's a little more intimidating."
Kilbane was one of seven underclassmen in the starting lineup against Bradley. She has been sharing pitching duties with senior Rachel Trimmer.
"We have some great athletes," Francisco said. "They make some great plays."
North had won five of six games before losing to Kilbourne 6-5 in eight innings May 6. Before playing Hilliard Darby on May 7, the Wolves led the league at 11-1.
Francisco believes his team will be ready for the tournament.
"We're as ready as we're ever going to be," he said. "We need to work on some defensive sets. We're getting a little rusty on defensive rotation and things like that, but we've been playing every day. We haven't had time to go over a lot."
South rallies past Central
South scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally past visiting Central 5-4 on May 3.
The Wildcats took advantage of five walks and a hit batter in the inning.
South avenged a 6-1 loss to the Warhawks on April 23.
Before playing Westerville North on May 8, the Wildcats were third in the OCC-Cardinal at 9-4.
"We're getting there," coach Jerry Kelbley said of preparing for the district tournament. "We'll see when it starts, but I think so. They're playing well together. I like that."
The 17th-seeded Wildcats play host to 35th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a first-round game Tuesday, May 14. The winner plays 10th-seeded Teays Valley or 39th-seeded Marion-Franklin in the second round May 16 at the home of the highest seed.
Central looking to bounce back
Central ended a two-game losing streak by defeating Darby 7-1 on May 6.
It was the Warhawks' first losing streak since they opened the season with losses to Olentangy Orange (5-0 on April 1) and Upper Arlington (2-0 on April 3).
Central was second in the league at 10-3 before playing Dublin Jerome on May 8.
"We just need to have more consistent play and capitalize on our scoring opportunities," coach Brian Wamsley said. "Overall, we have played very well this season and just need to hit like we were (a few weeks ago)."
The 11th-seeded Warhawks open the district tournament with a first-round home game Tuesday, May 14, against 38th-seeded Reynoldsburg. If they win, they'll play host to 15th-seeded Chillicothe or 20th-seeded Jerome on May 16.