The Central Crossing High School softball team has come to realize it does more than play a game. The players and coaches are aware they represent the school and the community.
After winning a Division I district championship last season, their first since 2012, the Comets earned an outright OCC-Central Division title by defeating Westland 13-0 in five innings May 3.
It was the program's first league championship since winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. However, the Comets hope that title is only a steppingstone to bigger things in the postseason.
Coach Rona Dorsey said team members received texts from school administrators, teachers and members of the community following the win over the Cougars.
"A lot of people were excited about the victory," Dorsey said. "The players and coaches were getting texts from teachers and administrators to tell the kids how important that they are. They know that they represent the school and the community. Many of the texts would end with '#NotDoneYet' or '#FinishIt,' so we know we have more to do."
Emily Gant and Baylie Baker combined on a two-hitter against Westland.
"This particular group has worked hard, especially the seniors," Dorsey said. "Last year they were district champions and this year they won the OCC. They were extremely excited about tacking that onto the team's name."
Senior first baseman Kait York said the team's success came about in part because the players are confident.
"We came in with the confidence that we knew we could do it," York said. "We lost three seniors from last year (Cassady Coukart, Ally Gruen and Karolyne Jordan) who were a big part of the team. But we worked hard, stepped up to the plate and did our job."
The Comets finished 9-1 in the OCC-Central, losing only to Marysville 3-0 on April 13. Hilliard Davidson (8-2) was second, followed by Marysville (7-3), Dublin Coffman (3-7), Upper Arlington (3-7) and Westland (0-10).
"(Winning the league) means a lot to each and every one of us," senior center fielder Maddie Burkhart said. "We worked really, really hard because we really wanted it. Now we want to get back to OSU (for the regional tournament)."
The Comets have to win three games to reach the regional at Ohio State. Seeded second in the district behind Pickerington Central, they were 17-2 overall before opening the postseason May 10 against 29th-seeded Briggs.
The winner advanced to a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined against ninth-seeded Lancaster or 27th-seeded Licking Heights. The Comets lost to Lancaster 4-0 on April 21, but did not play Licking Heights this season.
The district final is May 19 or 20 at Pickerington Central, and the district champion moves on to a regional semifinal May 24 at Ohio State.
"We looked at it and saw we hadn't won the league since 2012 and said we wanted to do that," Burkhart said. "We did that. Now we want to keep this going."
Through 19 games, Gant led the pitching staff and the offense. The junior was 16-2 with 243 strikeouts, nine walks and a 0.23 ERA in 121 2/3 innings. At the plate, she led in batting average (.579), doubles (9), triples (4), home runs (3), RBI (21) and on-base percentage (.615), and had scored 13 runs.
Other hitting leaders were Chloe Corum (.421, 10 RBI, 7 runs), Andi Rapp (.333, 19 runs), Burkhart (.323, 7 RBI, 20 runs) and Hannah Scott (.305, 1 homer, 12 RBI).
The 31st-seeded baseball team was 11-14 overall after defeating 37th-seeded Logan 8-3 on May 8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Jordan Pilkington gave up three runs on five hits in the first inning, but settled down to pick up the victory.
"Jordan had a slow start, but he got back on track after that," coach Scott Todd said. "Once he gets things going, he can be difficult to hit."
The Comets scored four runs in the fourth and added three more in the fifth. Dylan Davis drove in four runs on two singles.
"We had some clutch two-out hits and played great defense behind Jordan," Todd said.
The Comets advanced to play 11th-seeded Olentangy Orange on May 10 in the second round, and that winner plays in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined against fifth-seeded Canal Winchester or 25th-seeded Lancaster.
The district final is Wednesday, May 17, at a neutral site to be determined against fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington, 16th-seeded Zanesville, 18th-seeded Westerville Central or 29th-seeded Pickerington North.
The regional semifinal is May 25 at Coffman.
Through 23 games, Pilkington was 3-4 in 42 1/3 innings with a 2.32 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 21 walks. J.J. Carr was 2-1 in 23 1/3 innings with a 2.70 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 14 walks, and Tyler Ronevich was 2-5 in 37 innings with a .4.54 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Carr led at the plate, batting .379 with 15 RBI and seven runs. Other offensive leaders were Davis (.338, 8 RBI, 15 runs), Ronevich (.309, 6 RBI, 10 runs) and Matt Reed (.302, 6 RBI, 9 runs).
Track teams to compete
in OCC-Central meet
The boys and girls track and field teams compete in the OCC-Central meet Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Coffman.
Last season, the girls tied UA for fifth (65) behind champion Olentangy Liberty (147) and the boys finished eighth (9) behind champion Marysville (161).
Central Crossing then competes in the Division I, district 2 meet Tuesday, May 16, Wednesday, May 17, and May 20 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.
Last season, Julia Swallows of the girls team won the district 2 championship in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches) and the boys ended their season in the meet.
Tennis team prepares
for sectional tourney
The boys tennis team was 4-8 overall after losing to Grove City 5-0 on May 8 and before playing Hilliard Bradley on May 10.
The Comets play in a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Davidson. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 18 at Davidson and May 20 at UA.
Maxim Meleshchuk, Ethan Wright and Owen Yoakum are playing singles in the postseason. The doubles teams are Tyler Moore and Peter Semchishin and Andrew Gunning and Stephen Semchishin.