Although they didn't team up for last year's postseason, senior Hoang Do and junior Adithya Nair became familiar enough with each other to realize they could work well together if they ever ended up on the same court.
On May 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis doubles duo jelled well enough to advance to the Division I district tournament.
Do and Nair finished fourth at sectional and will open district Thursday, May 18, at Hilliard Davidson against St. Charles' Evan Yakubov and Jack Dabek, who won the Davidson sectional. The district tournament concludes Saturday, May 20, at Upper Arlington, with the top four finishers in singles and doubles advancing to state May 26 and 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"It feels good," Nair said. "We played a little bit last year and decided to play doubles this year. We used a lot of signs, talked before points and tried to encourage each other."
For much of this season, Do played first singles and Nair was at first doubles.
At sectional, Do and Nair lost to New Albany's Nathan Jose and Graeme Green 6-0, 6-0 in a semifinal and then fell to Big Walnut's Carson Becker and Jared Deel 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in the consolation.
Also in doubles, Tarun Nandakumar and Samanyu Das lost in the second round to Reynoldsburg's Chase Cotner and Spencer Kirksey 6-1, 6-4.
In singles, Nick Darragh lost a play-in match, K.J. Lawal lost in the first round and Marcello Aguilar lost in the second round to Chillicothe's Joseph Herlihy 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
In their district-qualifying match, Do and Nair rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the second set against Worthington Kilbourne's Jacob Lindaman and William Wiet to complete a 6-0, 7-6 (7-3) victory.
"Everyone worked really hard," coach Josh Matusky said. "Aguilar cramped up in the third set (in his district-qualifying match against Herlihy) and was struggling. He couldn't move very well, but he won his first set. K.J. Lawal played incredible and I was really proud of how Nick Darragh played."
Girls lacrosse team
opens tourney play
With a 14-7 loss May 10 at New Albany, the girls lacrosse team settled for a runner-up finish in the OCC-Buckeye Division at 6-1, behind the Eagles (7-0).
Molly McCormack and Grace Buckey each scored two goals for the Patriots, who bounced back to beat Kilbourne 22-12 on May 11 as McCormack and Madison Rapier both scored six goals.
Liberty closed the regular season at 11-6 overall.
"We have a sense of urgency, and I have a good feeling going into the tournament," coach Nicole Stines said.
The Patriots were seeded third for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and opened May 16 at home against 12th-seeded Delaware. The winner plays host to sixth-seeded Orange or ninth-seeded Toledo Notre Dame on Friday, May 19, in a regional quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to play at second-seeded Medina, seventh-seeded Olentangy, eighth-seeded Westerville North or 13th-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne on Tuesday, May 23, in a regional semifinal. The regional final is May 27 at a site to be announced.
Liberty beat Orange 15-7 on April 19, Medina 12-11 on May 5 and North 18-9 on April 25.
Three athletes win
OCC girls track titles
The girls track and field team is competing in the Division I, district 1 meet, which began with running preliminaries May 16, continues with field events Thursday, May 18, and concludes with running finals Saturday, May 20, at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North. The top four at regional will advance to state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
In the OCC-Buckeye meet May 11 and 13 at Orange, the Patriots scored 96 points to place third behind Orange (155.66) and Westerville Central (132.33) and ahead of Westerville South (59), Westerville North (40) and Olentangy (40).
Leading the way were Emma Bower, Sydney Englehart and Abby Summers.
Bower won the 3,200 meters (11 minutes, 15.36 seconds) and was runner-up in the 1,600 (5:04.42), Englehart won the 400 (58.87) and was third in the long jump (16 feet, 6 1/4 inches) and Summers was first in the 200 (24.91) and third in the 100 (12.35).
"I'm really excited (for the postseason)," Summers said. "This season has been kind of rough because I haven't peaked at all and was running slower than I wanted. Our team's finally starting to come together."
Also earning third-place finishes were Sophia Englehart in the 100 hurdles (16.43), Emily Matta in the 3,200 (11:35.61), the 800 relay (1:45.74) and the 3,200 relay (9:46.83).
"We're all trying to drop as much time as we can," Bower said. "It's good competition out there and we all like to push each other."
Mace leads boys
track team at OCC
The boys track team is competing in the Division I, district 2 meet, which began May 16 with field events and held running preliminaries May 17 before concluding Saturday, May 20, with running finals at Darby.
In the league meet, Jonathan Mace led the way with a runner-up finish in the 110 hurdles in a program-record 14.81.
He also was third in the 300 hurdles (41.76) as Liberty scored 69 points to place fourth behind Orange (187), South (117) and Olentangy (84) and ahead of Central (42) and North (20).
"(The program record) feels awesome," Mace said. "I wasn't expecting it, but I wanted it. I've been getting my form down and getting between the hurdles faster and faster."
Also earning a runner-up finish was Joseph Johnson in the 800 (1:57.24).
Placing third were the 400 relay (43.98), the 800 relay (1:31.6) and the 3,200 relay (8:09.15).
Boys lacrosse team
preps for opener
The top-seeded boys lacrosse team had a first-round bye in the postseason and plays host to 14th-seeded Marysville or 15th-seeded Berea-Midpark on Saturday, May 20, in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal.
If the Patriots win, they would play host to fourth-seeded Medina, fifth-seeded Delaware, 10th-seeded Toledo St. John's or 11th-seeded Sylvania Northview on Wednesday, May 24, in a regional semifinal. The regional final is May 27 at a site to be announced.
With a 16-8 victory over Westerville North on May 12, Liberty improved to 13-5 overall and finished 7-0 in the OCC-Buckeye. Griffin Hughes scored seven goals and Johnny Wiseman had three.
to begin postseason
The boys volleyball team was seeded fifth for the Division I East Region tournament and opens Saturday, May 20, at home against 10th-seeded Westerville North or 16th-seeded Northland in the first round.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Gahanna or seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome on Tuesday, May 23, at Hilliard Darby in a regional semifinal. The regional final is May 26 at Westerville Central.
With losses to DeSales (17-25, 25-14, 25-18) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (25-16, 25-16) on May 13, the Patriots closed the regular season at 9-9.
Most of softball
roster to return
The softball team is losing just one player to graduation in Randi Saito (OF/P) after going 9-11 overall.
The Patriots were seeded 22nd for the Division I district tournament and beat 43rd-seeded Thomas Worthington 20-0 on May 8 before falling 10-0 to fifth-seeded Mount Vernon on May 10 in a second-round game.
"(Mount Vernon's) a good team and we were right with them until about the fifth or sixth inning," coach Bob Lee said. "Then we had four errors in the sixth inning and you look up and the game is over."
Liberty tied North for third (5-5) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Central (10-0) and Olentangy (7-3) and ahead of Orange (2-8) and South (1-9).
Sophomore pitcher Katelyn Wilhelm, who threw two no-hitters during the regular season and added her third in five innings against Thomas, finished with 145 strikeouts to rank among the area leaders.
Junior Kennedy Kashmiry (SS) led the Patriots in batting average at .474 and RBI with 16. Sophomore Sammy Leonhart (INF) batted .345.
Sophomore Arica Flaugher (C) hit .314 with four home runs and 15 RBI, and sophomore Taylor Karlo (OF) had 12 RBI in just 12 games.
Others eligible to return include juniors Natalie Bataglia (OF), Marissa McPhail (OF/P) and Lillee LaRosa (RF), sophomores Sydney Lane (1B) and Lyndsey Amico (3B) and freshmen Alexis Byrd (1B/P) and Katelyn Leary (P/1B).
Baseball coach pleased
with team's 'grit'
Although the baseball team didn't have as much success as it hoped after winning three consecutive Division I district championships, coach Ty Brenning was pleased with his players' effort this season.
"Our players faced many challenges this year," Brenning said. "At times we played very good baseball. We're disappointed with the outcomes on the field, but our team showed amazing grit, ownership and pride. Our guys fought each day to get better."
Liberty was seeded 21st for the district tournament and lost to 34th-seeded Reynoldsburg 5-2 on May 8 in the first round.
The Patriots closed the season with a 4-2 win over Olentangy on May 13 that gave them a final record of 13-13 overall and tied them with North at 7-8 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Olentangy won the league title at 12-3 and Orange (10-5) and Central (8-7) also finished ahead of the Patriots, while South (1-14) rounded out the standings.
Among a five-member senior class, Connor Stewart (P/1B) batted .323 while Preston Stanley (P) went 2-3 with a 1.65 ERA and one save and Hunter Voorhees (P/OF) was 4-2 with a 2.48 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings.
Juniors Carson Comer (3B), Mitch Milheim (P/OF) and Michael Osmond (INF), sophomores Craig Lutwen (INF), Jack Metzger (OF/INF/P) and Mitchell Okuley (OF) and freshman Brennan Rowe (INF) should be among the top returnees.
Lutwen batted .400 with 11 RBI, and Okuley hit .373 with 16 RBI. Milheim hit .342 with 11 RBI and was 2-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Metzger went 1-2 with four saves and a 2.02 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings.