It hasn't been the best of seasons for the Worthington Kilbourne High School baseball team.
But the Wolves believe they still have time to turn their season around and gain some momentum for a postseason run. The Division I district tournament draw will be held Sunday, May 4, with first-round games starting May 12.
"We called a team meeting and we talked about playing to our potential after (an 8-0 loss to Big Walnut on April 21 in an OCC-Capital Division game)," said senior shortstop and pitcher Hayden Shenefield, a second-year captain. "When we don't beat ourselves, we have a chance to be competitive and be successful."
The Wolves were 5-9 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Capital before playing Olentangy on April 30. They play host to the Braves on Thursday, May 1, in a game that was postponed April 28 because of bad weather.
Kilbourne, which plays host to Thomas on Saturday, May 3, concludes the regular season May 9 at Olentangy Orange.
"This group of kids loves baseball and are invested in righting the ship these last few weeks before the tournament," coach Jeff Boulware said. "They have improved their play since the (players) meeting, but the trouble is that the remainder of the schedule is pretty brutal. It's a difficult stretch."
Last week, Kilbourne defeated Franklin Heights in a pair of league games, winning 7-6 on April 23 and 4-3 on April 25, and lost to Hilliard Darby 11-4 on April 22 and Watterson 10-0 on April 24.
"Our pitching has improved, especially in league games," Boulware said. "Freshmen Ryan McDaniel and Dominic Frengel pitched very well against Franklin Heights, and that's a great sign for the future."
McDaniel allowed three runs in six innings in the second game against the Falcons, but Shenefield got the win as he pitched the top of the seventh and the Wolves scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the inning.
Frengel also allowed three runs in six innings in the first game against Franklin Heights. The host Falcons, who trailed 7-1 through two innings, scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but their late-game rally fell short.
Boulware also has been pleased with the pitching of junior Daniel Zavatsky.
"He had a 2.00 ERA until the Watterson game when he had a bad game against a very good team," Boulware said of Zavatsky. "He pounds the strike zone just like we want him to do and forces you to beat him. He's not overpowering, but has been successful just following the plan."
Offense remains a concern for the Wolves.
"We have been working hard on our approach," Boulware said. "We're swinging away and not being selective. We need to be more patient and get better pitches to hit. We need to get ahead in the counts."
Boulware said junior Dominic Brown had a team-high .375 batting average through 14 games, hitting third in the order. He also said senior T.J. Valentino has been strong as the leadoff hitter and McDaniel has been a surprise offensively, moving into the second spot in the order. Frengel is hitting clean-up.
"We're still developing a mental approach at the plate and we still know we can finish with a winning record," Shenefield said. "We want to get better each game and peak for the tournament."
Cardinals clinging to OCC title hopes
Thomas' bid for their third consecutive OCC-Central championship could come down to the final day of the regular season.
The Cardinals were 16-3 overall and 5-2 in the league before facing Central Crossing on April 29 and 30. They lost to Marysville 6-2 in an OCC-Central contest April 23 to fall one game behind first-place Olentangy Liberty in the race for the league title.
Liberty entered the week 6-1 in the OCC-Central.
Thomas closes league play against the Patriots, traveling to Liberty on Wednesday, May 7, before playing host to the Patriots on May 9.
The Cardinals swept a doubleheader against Gahanna on April 26, winning the first game 14-12 and the second 6-5 in nine innings.
In the second game against the Lions, Jace Komminsk hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3. After Gahanna scored two runs in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals scored three in the bottom of the inning.
Thomas scored 70 runs in a seven-game stretch between April 14 and April 26, winning six of the contests. In addition to the wins over Gahanna, the Cardinals defeated Westland (14-2 on April 14), Westerville Central (8-3 on April 19), Mayfield (12-2 on April 19) and Dublin Coffman (14-5 on April 21).
The contests against Westland and Coffman were league games.