The Westerville Central High School softball team reached a Division I district semifinal for the first time in coach Brian Wamsley's four seasons.
The 11th-seeded Warhawks were hoping to advance even further when they played fifth-seeded Olentangy Orange on May 21.
"We've always seemed able to win one (tournament game), but we couldn't seem to be able to get that second one," Wamsley said after his team's 8-5 win over visiting Dublin Jerome in the second round May 16. "It wasn't an easy task."
The Central-Orange winner plays third-seeded Marysville or sixth-seeded Gahanna in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at Pickerington Central.
The winner plays North Canton Hoover, Uniontown Lake, Louisville or Massillon Jackson in a regional semifinal May 30 at Ohio State. The regional final is June 1 at Ohio State.
Central was playing in a district semifinal for the second time, with the other time coming in 2007 when Olivia Wamsley, the coach's daughter, was the team's top pitcher.
The Warhawks reached a district final that year before losing to top-seeded Pickerington Central 9-0.
Central opened this season's tournament by defeating 38th-seeded Reynoldsburg 16-0 in five innings May 14 at home.
Winning pitcher Paige McMenemy had four hits, including a home run, and Allie Haines (1B) hit a three-run home run in the first inning.
Against 20th-seeded Jerome, Perry Wallinger (SS) led off the bottom of the first with a home run and Morgan Ciehanski (RF) tripled and scored for a 2-0 lead.
McMenemy, who homered in the sixth inning, allowed six hits and struck out nine.
"I think our girls know now that they can compete with these teams and it gives them a little bit of confidence," coach Wamsley said. "Confidence can get you a long way when you're feeling good about yourself."
McMenemy entered the district semifinal with 236 strikeouts, which is the program record for a season. The previous record was 214 by Olivia Wamsley in 2007.
McMenemy was named the OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year at the league meeting May 19.
"Paige is going to keep us in a lot of games," coach Wamsley said. "All we have to do is manufacture a few runs here and there, and if we can put four or five runs on a board in a game, we're going to be a good shape."
South completes strong season
South won its final five OCC-Cardinal games to finish 10-4 in the league.
The Wildcats finished 14-10 overall after losing 9-1 at 10th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round of the district tournament May 16.
"Teays Valley is a pretty good team," coach Jerry Kelbley said. "The girls gave 100 percent, that's all I can ask for. They played hard and never hung their heads. We made some really nice plays. You have to give the other team credit."
South opened the tournament by defeating 35th-seeded Dublin Scioto 11-0 in five innings May 14 at home. Senior Leah Ross pitched a no-hitter, striking out six and walking one.
South finished third in the league behind Worthington Kilbourne (13-1) and Central (11-3) and ahead of Westerville North (8-6), Hilliard Bradley (6-7), Jerome (4-9), Hilliard Darby (3-11) and Scioto (0-14).
South won both games against North, 5-4 on April 22 and 6-1 on May 8, and split two games with Central, losing 6-1 on April 23 and winning 5-4 on May 3.
Along with Ross, South loses seniors Chelsea Raker (3B/1B) and Laura Hannah (OF).
"They were wonderful," Kelbley said. "I'm going to miss all three of them. They were here for four years and they were a plus every year they were here. They're just wonderful young ladies and I'm sure they're going to go on to a lot of success in their lives."
Raker hit .464 with a team-high seven doubles, eight triples, three home runs and 21 RBI.
Sophomore Lizzy Rietema (C/OF) hit .333.
Ross was 13-9 with a 2.52 ERA, 105 strikeouts and 21 walks in 141 1/3 innings.
Other players who could return next season are juniors Rachel Adkins (P/OF), Mackenzie Daugherty (OF/INF), Nikki Mantle (SS), Cheyenne Raker (OF/C) and Julie Stiltner (P/INF), sophomores Aleah Llaneza (OF/INF), Tricia Roederer (OF/INF) and Sophie Winegard (1B/OF) and freshman Kambra Crist (2B).
"I think every girl was better at the end of the year than when they started and that's a plus," Kelbley said. "They came together as a team and that's always a good feeling."
North featured young team
North coach Joe Francisco said he was pleased with his team's development this season.
The Warriors, who lose only three seniors, finished 12-12 overall after falling to seventh-seeded and host Kilbourne 6-1 in a district second-round game May 16.
Alex Allamon (2B) had three hits and Halli Swiger (SS) had two. Both are sophomores.
North handed Kilbourne its league loss, 1-0 on April 25.
"Kilbourne is a good team," said Francisco, whose team trailed 4-0 after one inning in the tournament game. "Our team didn't fold. We're very, very, very young. I'm pleased as punch with them. I really am. They'll be back next year. We'll be a little older and a lot stronger, and hopefully a little wiser."
The 19th-seeded Warriors defeated 29th-seeded Newark 10-0 in five innings in the first round May 14 at home.
Sophomore Lizzy Bauer (3B) led the team in hitting at .382, in runs with 24, doubles with 10 and triples with two. Swiger hit .373 with a team-high 15 RBI and Allamon hit .325.
Freshman Sammy Kilbane was 7-5 with a 1.23 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 20 walks in 74 innings.
Other players who could return are juniors Mara Daugherty (OF) and Kati Hall (P/OF) and sophomores Chase Brumfield (C) and Jessica Stamos (OF).