Toni Woods, Kendra Soler, Cleo Steward and Imani Johnson represented the Groveport Madison High School girls track and field team in the Division I regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.

The four athletes combined to set the school record in the 400-meter relay, finishing in 48.8 seconds during the preliminaries May 24 and advancing to the final by placing third in their heat with the fourth-best time overall.

The top four finishers in the final May 26 advanced to the state meet Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.

“They destroyed the school record of

49.66, which I believe was set in 2013,” coach Aaron Fenzel said. “They ran very well with clean exchanges. Toni got out of the blocks with a good split and as soon as she made

the exchange with Kendra, I could tell we were going to have a good one. We had changed the lineup after the (OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded May 13 at

Dublin Coffman) and this group is really getting it done. They were a full second faster than in the district, and that’s a lot of time in the 400 relay.”

The 400 relay finished third in the district 1 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby in 49.8, as the top four in each event advanced to regional.

The girls team did not advance to regional in any other event, and the boys team did not have any regional qualifiers.

Softball team to
lose one starter

The softball team, which reached one of its goals this season but fell just short of its biggest goal, is losing only one senior starter.

The Cruisers won the OCC-Capital championship, but lost to ninth-seeded Lancaster 5-4 in a Division I district final May 20 at Pickerington Central to finish 23-6 overall. Groveport, which was seeking its first district title since 1989, also lost in a district final last season, falling to Marysville 10-5.

Seeded sixth of 45 teams, the Cruisers opened the district tournament with a 3-2 win over 35th-seeded New Albany in a second-round game May 10 and beat 12th-seeded Grove City 5-3 in a district semifinal May 15.

“It’s unfortunate because I feel if we played to our ability, we’d still be playing in the tournament,” coach Chris Downing said. “The difference in the game (against Lancaster) is we made three errors and didn’t play our best defensively, and (Lancaster) made four or five outstanding plays to take hits away from us. In fact, we didn’t strike out once against their pitcher, not once.

“Still, it was a great season. It’s just that we reached the same point last year and we were happy with that despite losing. This is a different feeling. We wanted desperately to take the next step.”

The lone senior starter is catcher Jessie Rock, who batted .457 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs, 25 runs scored and 33 RBI and was named OCC-Capital Player of the Year.

“We’ve had a lot of great players here through the years, but she has to be way up there on the list of impact players we’ve had due to her leadership, dedication and love of the game,” Downing said. “She is a great example and role model for the girls in the program and the younger girls in the community. Her personality, class and the way she handles everything make her a terrific representative for the program and community at large.”

Groveport went 10-0 in the league to finish ahead of Big Walnut and Newark (both 7-3), Canal Winchester and New Albany (both 3-7) and Franklin Heights (0-10).

Among the expected returnees are juniors Sara Gockenbach (P), Jodi Kern (1B), Carsyn Saunders (LF) and Shyla Shirkey (2B), sophomores Lanie White (SS) and Lexi Wright (CF) and freshmen Macie Sporleder (3B), Ally Maddy (OF) and McKenzie Maddy (OF).

Gockenbach was 21-5 with a 1.39 ERA and 173 strikeouts in 156 innings and batted .361 with nine doubles, three home runs, 19 runs and 17 RBI in the leadoff spot. She was named first-team all-league.

Saunders, who batted .439 with seven doubles, 24 runs and 20 RBI, also made first-team all-league, while Kern (.409, 8 doubles, 6 home runs, 25 runs, 31 RBI), White (.374, 12 doubles, 5 home runs, 32 runs, 21 RBI), Sporleder (.366, 7 doubles, 27 runs, 22 RBI) and Shirkey (.333) all were second-team all-league.

Wright made special mention all-league and Ally Maddy (.381) was honorable mention all-league.

“I’m excited about next season and so are the girls,” Downing said. “We always do something together on Sundays, and I got texts and emails from the girls (May 21) telling me they’re already missing it.

“With what we have coming back, we’re hoping to at least take the next step. We obviously want to continue to compete for league and district titles every year.”

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek