As second-year coach Sarah Shellenbarger continues to develop the Westland High School softball program, she's focusing on small victories along the way.
The Cougars opened OCC-Central Division play April 11 with a 12-2 loss to perennial league contender Marysville.
While there have been some struggles in the field, including eight errors against the Monarchs, Shellenbarger appreciates the leadership of players such as seniors Noelle Salyer and Emily Spohn and how that has helped the younger players progress.
"They're coming along," Shellenbarger said. "I cannot tell you the progress that this team has made. It comes from experience. We have some leaders on the team and it's starting to translate to the rest of the group. They're starting to look ahead and I think it's going to come. They're working hard and that's all I can ask."
Westland was 0-5 overall and 0-1 in the league before playing Dublin Coffman on April 12.
The game against Marysville was scoreless through two innings before the Monarchs scored four runs in the third and then pulled away with four more in the sixth.
Shellenbarger took a look at the future in the game as freshman pitcher Kayla Miller made her first start. She allowed 18 hits, but the defensive miscues also proved costly.
Miller started in place of Spohn, who has handled most of the pitching duties during her four-year career. Spohn started in center field to help shore up the outfield defense while also resting her arm as Westland prepares for a busy part of its schedule.
"Spohn has done a phenomenal job, but it's nice to get her some relief so she can play other positions," Shellenbarger said. "Emily does phenomenal (in center field). She's played shortstop (and) Kayla has played shortstop."
Spohn and Shaela Clark scored against Marysville.
With games scheduled against Marion Harding on April 14 and Fisher Catholic and Amanda-Clearcreek on Saturday, April 21, the Cougars see chances to break into the win column.
"A win will do (a lot) for their confidence," Shellenbarger said. "They keep working. We're going to get one. It would be great to get a league win."
Salyer, who also is closing out a four-year varsity career, has been pleased with the Cougars' progress.
"We've been a lot more aggressive than years past," she said. "A lot of the girls haven't played before, but we've progressed a lot as a team so far."
Shellenbarger hopes to re-establish a junior varsity team and add a feeder program at the younger levels to help build the high school program.
"We don't have a feeder program yet, but their dedication and desire is showing on the field," she said. "Unfortunately, it's not showing in the scores."
With 17 players on the roster and no j.v. team, Shellenbarger has been challenged to find time for each player.
"We were hoping to do a j.v. team this year, but with our numbers it was kind of tight," she said. "We don't want to stretch anybody too far because we have a pretty packed schedule this year."
Mon leading baseball team
Junior shortstop and pitcher Zach Mon has been a bright spot for the baseball team, as he was batting .615 with two RBI before the Cougars played Eastmoor Academy on April 12.
"I feel like I'm playing real well right now," Mon said. "The coaches are really helping me with taking the ball to the right side, hitting off-speed (pitches) and just doing the little things right to make me better."
The Cougars were 0-5 overall before playing the Warriors.
"It's back to work," coach Neil Bittel said. "I challenged our guys that the non-league games are the games we really need to win."
Westland also was 0-5 in the OCC-Central before playing Upper Arlington on April 13.
The Cougars lost to Coffman 16-3 in five innings April 6 and 9-3 on April 10, and fell to UA 16-0 in five innings April 11.
"We played seven innings (in the 9-3 loss to Coffman) and that's what I challenged our guys to do," Bittel said. "We just have to be able to put together seven innings. After our first two or three pitchers, we struggle to throw strikes. We have to get the bats going as well."
Track and field teams compete at Grove City
Senior Trent Bott led the boys track and field team in a quad meet April 10 at Grove City.
Bott won the discus (126 feet, 9 inches) and shot put (43-5) as the Cougars finished fourth (38 points) behind Grove City (98), Teays Valley (70) and Grandview (51).
The girls team finished fourth (13) behind Grove City (119), Grandview (71) and Teays Valley (48).
Westland was scheduled to compete in the Falcon Invitational on April 7 at Fairfield Union, but the meet was postponed because of bad weather.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland baseball, softball and track & field teams:
*April 16 -- At Hilliard Davidson
April 17 -- Home vs. Briggs
*April 18 -- Home vs. Davidson
April 19 -- At Grandview
*April 20 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
April 21 -- Home vs. Licking Heights (DH)
*April 16 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
April 17 -- At DeSales
*April 18 -- At Davidson
*April 19 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
April 21 -- At Fisher Catholic with Amanda-Clearcreek
TRACK & FIELD
April 17 -- Home vs. Columbus West