Because the Worthington Christian High School softball team has only 10 players in its program, three freshmen have had to play key roles this season.
That hasn't been a bad thing, however, as those players -- catcher Breanna Abel, shortstop Kara Godsey and third baseman and cleanup hitter Lynsey Meeks -- have helped the Warriors improve on last season, when they finished 2-15.
Worthington Christian was 4-9 overall and 0-7 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Madison Plains on April 30.
The Warriors split a doubleheader with Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy on April 26, winning the first game 5-4 and losing the second 15-4.
"My freshmen have come in big with their hitting and defense," coach Stephanie Smith said. "When we've played well, we've played well together. (The freshmen) all came in with a lot of good experience from summer ball, so it's not that they weren't used to this. They've shown great leadership on the field and have adjusted very well."
Meeks had three two-run home runs through eight games, including one that came in a 10-9 loss to Whitehall on April 16.
The Warriors led the Rams 6-4 but gave up six runs in the top of the seventh inning. They scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but their rally came up short.
On April 17 in a 6-5 win over Independence, Worthington Christian trailed 5-2 but scored two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.
The Warriors also have posted wins over Madison Christian (8-4 on April 1) and Tree of Life (10-0 on April 9) and lost in nine innings to West Jefferson (10-7 on April 10).
Sophomore Katie McIntosh has pitched the bulk of the innings.
"We don't have a ton of girls and we have some sore arms right now," Smith said. "Some of the days off we've had actually have helped us with rest."
Sprinters leading way for track teams
The track and field teams have spent the season's first few weeks building depth in the sprinting events.
The expected returns of sophomore Christina Hemmingsen to the girls team and senior Mark Parsell to the boys squad should further enhance the Warriors' sprinting corps.
Hemmingsen, who finished 15th (16.64 seconds) in the 100-meter hurdles in the Division III state meet last year, has been battling an ankle injury since the indoor track season, and Parsell has been dealing with a calf muscle injury.
Both are expected to initially compete in events such as the discus and shot put to help them ease back into competition, according to coach Loren Hughes.
The Warriors have two more meets before competing for the first time in the MSL-Ohio Division meet, which will be held May 13 and 16 at Whitehall.
"We've been really impressed with our sprinters," Hughes said. "They're all just top-notch. Christina Hemmingsen has been out with a high-ankle sprain but has been doing physical therapy. Mark Parsell pulled his (gastrocnemius) muscle last year at the regional and took some time off to do physical therapy. His calf (muscle) has actually ripped off the bone."
On April 26 in the Bloom-Carroll Invitational, the boys team finished sixth (50.5) of 10 teams, behind champion Franklin Heights (146), and the girls team was third (86) of 11 teams, behind Columbus Academy (94) and DeSales (91).
In the eight-team Pat McMillin Invitational on April 19 at Whitehall, the girls team scored 34 points to finish last of eight teams, behind champion Bexley (100).
Junior Natalee Cole placed fourth in the 100 (13.6) and the Warriors placed second in the sprint medley relay (1:59) and third in the 400 relay (52.9).
The boys team finished seventh (46) in the Pat McMillin Invitational behind champion Eastmoor Academy (107).
According to Hughes, the performance by junior J.J. Phillips in the sprint medley relay helped the Warriors place second (1:37.4) in that event, and the distance medley relay featuring senior Matt Watterson placed third (12:04.9).
Other key sprinters for the boys, according to Hughes, have been seniors Jordan Brown, Chris Osborn and Jay Trainer.
Pitching improving for baseball team
During a six-game stretch spanning from April 9 through April 15, the baseball team gave up an average of 8.3 runs.
The Warriors went 3-3 in those games, but they won three of their next four with sophomore Kyle Houk tossing a complete game in a 4-1 win over Amanda-Clearcreek on April 22 and junior Andy Brown and freshman Bradley Robbins picking up wins in relief in a doubleheader sweep of Shekinah Christian on April 19 (2-0 and 15-5).
Houk won his first four decisions and senior Casey Hamrick also has been effective on the mound, according to coach Tim Kraynak. Through 14 games, junior Jordan Nishizaki, sophomore Scott Hevel and Hamrick all were batting higher than .450 and Nishizaki and Hamrick both had more than a dozen RBI, Kraynak said.
"Defense has been what's hurt us," Kraynak said. "What I like about (the MSL-Ohio) is that you have to come to play every game. This is probably one of the toughest schedules we've had in a long time. Amanda-Clearcreek is no slouch of a team, and for us to go there and win was a really good sign."
Worthington Christian beat West Jefferson 5-4 on April 25 in an MSL-Ohio game and was 10-7 overall and 4-5 in the league before playing Columbus Academy on April 29 and Madison Plains on April 30.
Boys tennis team succeeding in MSL
The boys tennis team has made its presence felt during its first season in the MSL-Ohio.
The Warriors, who beat Whitehall 4-1 in a league match April 24, were 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the league before playing Bexley on April 29.
On April 26 in the MSL-Ohio tournament, the Warriors finished third (5) behind Columbus Academy (14) and Bexley (8) and ahead of Grandview (4), Whitehall (2), London (1) and West Jefferson (1).
Senior Joel Montgomery went 3-0 in the league tournament and was 8-1 entering the match against Bexley. Entering the week, his only loss came against Academy's Jacob Wareti, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 on April 9.
Montgomery won the rematch, however, beating Wareti 8-3 in the league championship match at first singles.
Worthington Christian, which lost to Academy 5-0 in their league dual match, has featured freshman Chris Tsibouris at second singles and freshman Ben Kindberg at third singles.
Juniors Ben Baacke and Steven Ruane, sophomores Noah Cardosi and Jacob Eriksen and freshman Josh Cardosi all have seen playing time at doubles.