There might not be a tougher left-hander in central Ohio to hit a baseball off of this spring than Gahanna Lincoln High School senior pitcher Jackson Wolf.
Batters standing in against the imposing 6-foot-7 Wolf shouldn't expect to get a walk, either.
With a fastball in the mid- to high-80s, the West Virginia recruit is one of the biggest reasons the Lions should remain a threat to make the Division I regional tournament a few weeks from now.
"I'm a strike thrower," Wolf said. "I stay low in the zone. My fastball is definitely my strongest pitch, but I need to mix in my change-up more. I throw my curveball more than my change-up."
The Lions beat Lancaster 9-7 on April 17, improving to 7-3 overall before playing St. Charles on April 18 and 4-3 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Lancaster on April 19.
Although Wolf was the losing pitcher in a 5-0 setback against Grove City on April 10, he was 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP and 21 strikeouts over his first three appearances spanning 20 innings.
During that time, he walked just two batters.
"Jackson has been very consistent so far this season," coach Mike Shade said. "He has been working ahead of hitters, which has made him effective. He loves to compete. He gives us a chance to win whenever he takes the mound."
The Lions' rotation also includes a pair of 6-3 junior right-handers in Johnathon Novinec and Mitch Megias, who were 2-1 and 1-1, respectively, entering this week. Megias also throws in the mid- to high-80s.
The only other left-hander on Gahanna's staff is junior Austin Burchfield.
Wolf opened the season with a 4-0 win over Upper Arlington on March 28 in which he struck out eight and pitched his first no-hitter at the prep level.
"I've probably been a part of combined no-hitters before, but it was very exciting," Wolf said. "I had a perfect game and then I walked a guy in the sixth inning. It was really exciting to share the moment with my team. Devon Lee made a diving catch in left field for the third out, so it was kind of a nail biter."
Wolf, who walked one, gave up four hits and struck out 10 in a 10-1 win over Reynoldsburg on April 3, committed to West Virginia in November 2015.
"I'm very strong mentally," Wolf said. "To be honest, it's come probably by trial and error. Over the years people have tried to get into my head and heckle me. I've learned over the years about all the stuff that matters and it's just progressed from there.
"We've got a very solid No. 2 pitcher in Mitch Megias who's really smart and is looking at a lot of Ivy League schools, and Johnathon Novinec is actually pretty solid. Once this season started, I knew we were going to be a pretty solid team."
team off to fast start
The schedule has started to heat up for the softball team, which was ranked first in the first Division I state poll released April 17.
The Lions play Thursday, April 20, at home against Pickerington Central, which is ranked sixth in the state, and then they compete in the Wendy's Classic on Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22, in Ashland.
To open the event at 4:30 p.m. April 21, Gahanna plays the state's second-ranked team, Lebanon.
Also in the Red Pool in the event are Lakewood, which is first in the state in Division II, and Caldwell (New Jersey) Mount Saint Dominic, which is one of its state's top teams.
Brookside Park, which is the site of the Wendy's Classic, was the site of the state tournament until Firestone Stadium in Akron began being the host venue in 2008.
In 2003, Gahanna lost the state championship game 2-0 to Whitehouse Anthony Wayne at Brookside Park.
On April 15 in the Valley of Thunder Tournament at Willow Wood Symmes Valley, the Lions won 9-5 over Wheelersburg, which is ranked first in Division III.
"All of these games are really good for us," coach Jim Campolo said. "We see really good competition. You get a little bit better of a look at your team."
Gahanna lost to Grove City 10-2 on April 17 and was 10-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Lancaster on April 19.
Aly Harrell hit a solo home run against Wheelersburg and a two-run homer in a 12-2 win over Jackson, also on April 15. Emma Spinney and Aleana Marcum added solo shots against Jackson.
On April 14, Gahanna beat Mount Orab Western Brown 16-8 and scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to rally for a 7-6 win over Williamsport Westfall. Gracey Day hit a two-run homer against Westfall.
Girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team took a five-game winning streak and a 3-0 OCC-Central record into its game April 18 against Pickerington Central.
Senior midfielder Emily Sloan had five goals during a 12-5 victory over Marysville on April 13 as the Lions improved to 6-1 overall before playing Central and Columbus School for Girls on April 19.
"We've had some ups and downs, but overall we're happy with how the season is going so far," coach Shelley Huffman said. "We have some things to work on, but the girls are learning and implementing what we've practiced into games, so that is always a plus. We get better every game, and you can see it on the girls' faces when they come off the field. They're enjoying themselves, and as a coach, that is rewarding."
Sloan, who also has been a standout on the draw, has led an offense that also features senior midfielder Brooklyn Ballenger, junior midfielder Stephanie Shirey and freshman midfielder Julia Foresi.
Defensively, seniors Katherine Belz, Ana Inman and Leah Swisher and sophomore Brooke Gates have led the way.
The only games among its first seven in which Gahanna gave up double digits in goals were a 15-10 loss to Westerville Central on April 3 and a 13-10 win over Hilliard Davidson on April 11.
"Skills will come with practice, but the time and hard work the girls put in, you can't teach that," Huffman said. "Heart is hard to find and that (is something) we have, so overall we're very happy with where we're headed and how the season is going."