Grace Lensmire was ready to be a front-line player for the DeSales High School girls lacrosse team this season, but even if she wasn't, the sophomore attacker would have been pressed into service as a crucial part of the offense.

With senior attacker and University of Cincinnati signee Jennie Finotti hampered by a right ankle injury, Lensmire stepped up and scored a team-high 49 goals during the regular season. DeSales was 14-1 overall before its Division II, Region 7 tournament opener May 17 at home against 13th-seeded Big Walnut, and clinched the Central Independent League title with a 14-3 win over Granville on May 11.

Finotti was injured shortly before the season and missed the first six and a half games.

Lensmire, classmate Sophia Finotti and senior Abbey Dop put the offense on their shoulders almost immediately. Sophia Finotti had 37 goals through 15 games, one more than Dop.

"Grace took that as an opportunity to step up and show she is a good lacrosse player," coach Joe Finotti said. "We told (Lensmire) she had the opportunity to have a really big year if she stuck to the game plan, and she has done that so far. She plays one-on-one well, but also fits into the team offense and is pretty talented at reading defenses. She's good at getting the ball to other shooters, too."

Lensmire scored 30 goals her freshman season, including five games with three goals or more, as DeSales won the Division II state championship, but admitted she occasionally was timid both with the ball and overall. Even so, she embraced the opportunity to do more with a successful year under her belt.

"I think I am way more confident," Lensmire said. "I am not afraid to take a ball in. I am not afraid to just play my hardest. Last year, I was timid with the ball and this year I have learned my role and figured I am good with the ball. My teammates trust me."

Lensmire scored at least four goals seven times during the regular season, including a career-high five in a 16-4 win over Columbus School for Girls on April 4.

DeSales went 7-0 in the CIL, two games ahead of second-place Columbus Academy (5-2).

The second-round winner plays host to eighth-seeded Granville or ninth-seeded Dayton Oakwood in a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 20. That winner will play host to fourth-seeded Bexley, fifth-seeded CSG, 12th-seeded Bellbrook or 13th-seeded Dayton Carroll in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 24. The regional final is May 27.

DeSales defeated Bexley 11-6 on May 4.

Coach Finotti emphasized better team play after a recent stretch in which the Stallions' hopes for a perfect season ended with a 9-8 loss at Cincinnati Indian Hill on May 6.

"We have too many good athletes that we don't have to rely on one girl," Finotti said. "If we come together and help each other, we will be fine."

Track teams fare
well in CCL meet

Track and field coach Ben McGinnis thought his teams kept up with the field during the CCL meet held May 8 and 10 at CSG, even though the boys placed second and the girls were third.

"We ran very well, but the league is getting faster every year," McGinnis said, citing, among other races, a girls 400-meter race in which the top three placers finished in 59.82 seconds or better. "We didn't have the best squads overall, but I am very proud of them."

Nine wins and two runner-up finishes powered the boys team, which scored 153 points to finish behind St. Charles (173) and ahead of Watterson (89), Hartley (56) and Ready (17). Winning were James Ervin in the 100 (11.14) and 200 (22.78), Derrius Mullins in the discus (160 feet) and shot put (55-9 3/4), Angelo Ricci in the long jump (19-11), A.J. Sallee in the 110 hurdles (15.5), Art Williams in the 400 (50.96), the 400 relay (44.27) and the 800 relay (1:33.02).

Among other top finishers, Patrick Mulligan placed third in the 300 hurdles (43.9) despite having competed in the event for only two weeks, according to McGinnis. Mulligan previously was a distance runner.

The girls team scored 89.5 points to finish behind Watterson (159) and Hartley (125) and ahead of CSG (73.5) and Ready (45).

Abi DeBrosse was runner-up in the 1,600 (5:24.62) and 3,200 (12:11.66) to lead DeSales. The 400 relay also was second (50.54).

Both teams began Division I district competition earlier this week at Hilliard Darby.

The boys are competing in district 1. Preliminaries for running events were May 16, followed by field events Thursday, May 18, and finals for the running events Saturday, May 20.

The girls are in district 2, which began with field events May 16, continued with running preliminaries May 17 and concludes with running finals May 20.

The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event qualify for state June 2-3 at Ohio State.

Baseball team wins
tourney opener

The baseball team drew closer to a second consecutive Division II district championship with an 8-1 win over 13th-seeded Caledonia River Valley in a second-round game May 11 at home.

The third-seeded Stallions were 15-11 before playing eighth-seeded Johnstown in a district semifinal May 16. The winner plays second-seeded Lakewood or fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a district final Thursday, May 18, at a neutral site that had not been determined before May 16. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 25 at Mason.

The Stallions defeated Bloom-Carroll 6-3 on April 28 and lost to Lakewood 2-1 on April 27.

Boys lacrosse team
rolls into postseason

The boys lacrosse team entered the postseason on a four-game winning streak.

After an 11-9 loss to Watterson on May 3, the Stallions reeled off wins over Westerville Central (15-8 on May 4), Academy (16-7 on May 9), Hilliard Darby (12-6 on May 11) and Granville (9-7 on May 12) to close the regular season.

Seeded second in the Division II, Region 7 tournament, DeSales was 13-2 before playing host to 15th-seeded Wellington in a second-round game May 16.

The winner plays host to seventh-seeded Oakwood or 10th-seeded Big Walnut in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 19. That winner will play host to third-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, sixth-seeded Academy, 11th-seeded Carroll or 14th-seeded Johnstown in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 23. The regional final is May 27.

The Stallions defeated Kilbourne 20-10 on April 11.

DiMichaelangelo
advances to district

Armando DiMichaelangelo of the boys tennis team will compete in the Division II district tournament Thursday, May 18, at Academy and Saturday, May 20, at Upper Arlington.

Seeded fourth in the CSG sectional, DiMichaelangelo qualified for district with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Bexley's Aaron Young on May 11 and went on to finish fourth May 13.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.

Also competing but failing to advance were the doubles teams of Dylan Benedict and Liam Verfurth (1-1) and Justin Braun and Tommy Mulligan (0-1) and singles players Khoa Do (0-1) and Nate Stevens (0-1).

At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualify for state May 26 and 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

DeSales is seeking its first state qualifier since John Acomb and Michael Rosile went 1-1 as a doubles team in 2011.

The Stallions beat Whetstone 4-1 on May 8 to finish their regular season at 7-7.

Boys volleyball team
preps for tourney

The boys volleyball team finished its regular season May 16 against Kilbourne before shifting its focus to the Division II East Region tournament.

DeSales is trying to reach the state tournament for the fourth time in five years.

The Stallions was 10-7 after splitting four matches last week, beating Dublin Coffman (25-20, 25-14, 25-17 on May 8) and Olentangy Liberty (17-25, 25-14, 25-18 on May 13) and losing to Hilliard Davidson (25-23, 25-15, 25-13, 26-24 on May 9) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (26-28, 25-10, 25-18 on May 13).

The regional tournament draw was May 15.

Softball team
showed improvement

The softball team improved as the season progressed, winning of six of its final seven regular-season games and its last three in the CCL, but lost its postseason opener for the first time in coach Julie Barber's 12 seasons.

Seeded 19th in the 45-team Division I district tournament, DeSales lost to 31st-seeded Dublin Jerome 4-2 in a first-round game May 8 at home to finish 11-8 overall.

The loss snapped the Stallions' four-game winning streak and was only the third time this season DeSales scored fewer than four runs. The others were a 1-0 loss to Pickerington North on April 5 and an 8-3 loss to Ready on April 10.

DeSales averaged 7.4 runs per game.

The Stallions went 4-2 in the CCL to place second behind Watterson (5-1) and ahead of Ready (3-3) and Hartley (0-6).

Among the players eligible to return are junior catcher Kayla Longanecker, sophomore shortstop Kyla Payne and freshman pitcher Jacqui Barber, who split time in the circle with senior Ryan Velazquez.

Bills resigns as
boys basketball coach

Joe Bills resigned as boys basketball coach May 8, ending a four-year tenure highlighted by a Division II district championship in 2016.

Bills, who was 58-41 overall and 15-17 in the CCL with the Stallions, plans to take a teaching job at Upper Arlington.

"I'm getting married this summer, and I have always told my players that in life you have to weigh your priorities," Bills said. "Faith and family come first. I felt this was a good time to take a step back away from being a head coach."

Last season, DeSales went 18-7 overall and 5-3 in the CCL, losing to Eastmoor Academy 54-51 in overtime in a district semifinal.

Athletes announce
college decisions

Three DeSales senior student-athletes announced their college choices May 10.

Sydney DeCamp will play women's lacrosse at Notre Dame College, Dylan Payne will play baseball at Shawnee State and Joe Revard will play men's lacrosse at Wheeling Jesuit.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave