A strong pitching performance helped the Big Walnut High School baseball team earn its third consecutive district championship.
The eighth-seeded Golden Eagles upset top-seeded Grove City 6-1 in a district final May 18 at Upper Arlington as junior pitcher Austin Becker, a Vanderbilt University commit, had nine strikeouts and allowed just five hits.Videos •The Big Walnut baseball team celebrates its 6-1 win over Grove City in a Division I district final May 18. •Watch an interview with baseball pitcher Austin Becker.
"It absolutely doesn't get any better than that," coach Jack Schone said. "Grove City is a great baseball team that has great tradition. It was a huge win for the kids, our program and our school."
Big Walnut improved to 22-5 and advanced to play Gahanna in a regional semifinal May 26 at Dublin Coffman. The winner played Hilliard Darby or Olentangy Orange in the regional final May 27 at Coffman.
The regional champion faces Avon, Medina, Perrysburg or Strongsville in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Huntington Park. The state final is at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Huntington Park.
Big Walnut lost to Gahanna 10-5 in a regional semifinal last season after reaching a Division II state semifinal in 2015.
"The key with our team has been that no matter what our record is when the tournament comes around, we know what we need to do," Becker said. "It's all about the team, and everybody knows their roles."
Against Grove City, Parker Imertreijs, Jake Foster and Connor Gerren each had a double, and Foster drove in three runs.
"The Central District is just full of great baseball teams," Schone said. "To have the opportunity to play one more game this time of year feels so good and appreciated."
Mosher, Myers lead
boys track team
Brandon Mosher and Abe Myers both won a title to lead the boys track and field team in the Division I, district 4 meet that concluded May 20 at Westerville South.
Mosher won the shot put in 57 feet, 6 inches and was unbeaten in the event this season entering the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North. Myers finished first in the discus (178-7).
Mosher also placed fourth in the discus (137-6), as the top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional.
On the first day at regional, Myers won the discus title in 163-3 to qualify for the state meet Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State and Mosher finished 15th (118-3) in the event.
The top four in each regional event qualified for state.
The Golden Eagles finished eighth (39 points) of 15 teams at district, behind champion Thomas Worthington (136).
Also scoring were Tim Rumas in the 100 meters (sixth, 11:34 seconds), Mitchell Truax in the pole vault (sixth, 12-0), Brandt Ebright in the shot put (seventh, 40-10), Caleb Ramey in the long jump (seventh, 20-1 3/4) and the 400 relay of Dante Chhuom, Sam Boyd, Josh Kem and Rumas (seventh, 45.35).
Two individuals and a relay for the girls team advanced to regional from the district 1 meet that concluded May 20 at Hilliard Darby.
Kaley Rammelsberg was runner-up in the high jump (5-5) and Anna Vrancken placed second in the discus (117-1), while the 3,200 relay of Kaitlin Meade, Colbi Borland, Adelee Gartner and Emma Padgett finished third (9:45.73). The relay's time was .23 of a second shy of the school record set in 1996.
On the first day at regional, Rammelsberg placed third in the high jump (5-4) to qualify for state, while the 3,200 relay finished 13th (10:03.49).
Big Walnut finished eighth (37) of 17 teams at district, behind champion Coffman (94).
Also scoring were Meade in the 800 (fifth, school-record 2:20.19), Vrancken in the shot put (sixth, 35-5), the 1,600 relay of Tori Buxton, Padgett, Hanna Pinkston and Meade (sixth, 4:08.66), Rammelsberg in the 100 hurdles (seventh, 16.53), Maddie Swank in the discus (seventh, 107-2) and Borland in the 3,200 (eighth, school-record 11:50.2).
"There is no such thing as an easy Division I district, and I believe we were in the most difficult, having seven schools seeded ahead of us in the district," coach Joe Evener said. "The girls continued to show why we have had such a successful season. They competed hard, supported each other and gave everything they had."
Doubles team falls
in district opener
Carson Becker and Jared Deel of the boys tennis team lost to Upper Arlington's Jack Schadek and Jack Hughes 6-1, 6-3 in a first-round doubles match in the Division I district tournament May 18 at Hilliard Davidson.
Softball team ends
season with 'letdown'
The softball team averaged close to eight runs per game during the regular season, but managed just one run and three hits in a 2-1, eight-inning loss to sixth-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a Division II district semifinal May 16.
The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles, who opened the postseason with a 5-0 victory over seventh-seeded Bexley in a second-round game May 11, finished 16-8 overall.
"It was just one of those games where we were hitting the ball but hitting it right at them," coach Jeff Hatfield said of the loss to Bloom-Carroll. "I felt very confident going into that game. We'd been on a roll and really coming together. We just had a little bit of a letdown."
Big Walnut went 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division to tie Newark for second, behind Groveport (10-0) and ahead of Canal Winchester (3-7), New Albany (3-7) and Franklin Heights (0-10).
Seven seniors led the Golden Eagles, who batted .374 as a team.
Senior pitcher and shortstop Alex Thomas, who was named second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league, led the way at the plate and in the circle. She batted .521 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI. In the circle, she was 10-5 with a 2.57 ERA, 89 strikeouts and 30 walks in 100 2/3 innings.
Senior catcher Jessica Coletta (first-team all-district, second-team all-league) hit .408 with a home run and 10 RBI, and senior third baseman Taryn Hammond (second-team all-district and all-league) batted .400 with 12 RBI.
Five starters are expected to return in juniors Alexyss Bullock (1B), Emma Schwinne (2B), Meredith Thomas (SS) and Stacey Walters (P/OF) and sophomore Jocelyn Lucas (OF).
Meredith Thomas, who was second-team all-district and all-league, hit .400 with 20 RBI, Lucas (honorable mention all-league) batted .390 with two triples and 13 RBI and Walters (special mention all-league) was 6-3 with a 3.56 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 44 walks in 55 innings and hit .392 with a home run and 19 RBI.
Boys lacrosse team
has winning season
Boys lacrosse coach Roger Allen was pleased with his 10th-seeded team's performance in an 11-9 loss to seventh-seeded Dayton Oakwood in the second round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 16.
Big Walnut finished 8-7 overall.
"We had a very strong showing (against Oakwood), which elevated our program," Allen said. "We know now we can compete with the better half of the region."
The Golden Eagles went 1-6 in the OCC-Buckeye to place seventh, behind Olentangy Liberty (7-0), New Albany (5-2), Olentangy (5-2), Orange (5-2), Westerville Central (3-4) and Westerville North (2-5) and ahead of Westerville South (0-7).
Big Walnut is losing eight seniors who accounted for more than half of the team's scoring. Seniors Campbell Allen (25 goals, 42 assists) and Seth Daniels (15 goals, 10 assists) were among the team's top scorers, while seniors Isaac Swartz and Simon Srisongkham led the defense.
"Our defense held opponents to 9.9 goals per game or an improvement from nearly 12 goals per game in 2016," Allen said.
Junior goalkeeper Josh Hageman averaged nearly 12 saves per game.
Others expected returnees include sophomores Nathan Montgomery (27 goals, 6 assists) and Judah Lozano (15 goals, 12 assists) and freshmen Joe Blubaugh (16 goals, 2 assists) and Sam Metzger in the attack and midfield.
On defense, juniors Tanner Daniels and Nathan McVeigh and freshmen Tyler Paul are expected to return.
Girls lacrosse team
With his team having set the program record for wins in a season and having won a postseason game, girls lacrosse coach Steve Palmer is hoping the momentum gained carries over to next season.
The 13th-seeded Golden Eagles finished 6-10-1 overall after a 21-2 loss to top-seeded DeSales in the second round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 17.
Big Walnut defeated 17th-seeded Centennial 11-3 in its tournament opener May 13, marking the first postseason victory in its eight-year history.
"It was super-exciting for us," Palmer said. "We had Delaware on (May 11) and won that game (8-7) on senior night, then turned around and (beat) Centennial in the tournament. ... We had a lot of great things happen this season."
Big Walnut placed seventh in the OCC-Buckeye at 1-6, behind New Albany (7-0), Liberty (6-1), Olentangy (5-2), Orange (4-3), Westerville Central (3-4) and Westerville North (2-5) and ahead of Westerville South (0-7).
With 11 juniors and 10 sophomores in the program, Palmer expects even better results next season.
The Golden Eagles are losing only two seniors, including goalie Emily Hall, a four-year starter who finished with 417 career saves. She has committed to play for Ursuline College.
Among the expected returnees are sophomore midfielders Cassady Becker (43 goals, 11 assists), Megan Helber (18 goals, 12 assists) and Maria Boyer and sophomore attacker Meri Buckles (15 goals, 8 assists).
On defense, junior Alex Williams, a two-year starter, and sophomore Gabrielle Mellen are expected to return.