Now in his 32nd season heading the Northland High School baseball program, Dean Washington has coached his share of talented pitchers.
Among them was one of his three sons, 2009 graduate Ben Washington, who as a senior teamed with classmate Sam Belisle to throw back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days.
The Vikings' current top two pitchers, seniors Keith Oliver and Je'von Watson, recently produced a similar accomplishment as they each tossed a five-inning no-hitter two days apart.
Both four-year varsity players, Oliver and Watson have helped Northland remain as one of the City League-North Division's top teams after tying Centennial for second in the league a season ago.
Coach Washington signed baseballs for both Oliver and Watson after their no-hitters.
"These two kids are pretty good," Washington said. "They're both quality pitchers."
The Vikings were 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the City-North before facing Mifflin on April 30, Whetstone on May 1 and East on May 2.
Northland lost to Centennial 10-8 on April 11 and Whetstone 10-4 on April 12 in league play.
According to Washington, Centennial was late getting to the game, which caused a late start. The contest ended up being called after six innings because of darkness but is considered an official game.
Watson, who struck out 11 as Northland beat Linden-McKinley 14-0 in his no-hitter April 18, plays shortstop when he's not on the mound.
"It's pretty cool throwing a no-hitter," said Watson, who plans to attend Central State, where he'll possibly major in business administration. "I've been with (Oliver) since we started baseball in middle school and it's the best feeling.
"I love this team. We're all brothers. We're a pretty good hitting team, but defensively we're even better. Over the years, I feel like I've improved in everything, my fielding and in batting, putting the ball more in play."
Oliver, who attends Columbus Alternative but lives in the Northland attendance zone, struck out 13 in his no-hitter April 20 as the Vikings beat Beechcroft 15-0. He serves as catcher when he's not pitching.
"For me, I just struggle walking people, so I was trying to find my release point and get in my groove," said Oliver, who has a full academic scholarship to Wright State, where he plans to major in industrial systems engineering. "I think we're a very good hitting team and we've got some talent in the younger areas.
"I've always been a catcher. Before sophomore year, I probably threw 10 innings total. I started pitching and realized I have a pretty good curveball."
According to Washington, Chad Norris (OF) and R.J. Dent (INF/OF) have been other standouts offensively.
"When we lost to Whetstone (April 12), I think we were a little too amped up," Washington said. "We were up 4-1, but kind of lost it on the mound and didn't have any relief because we had a busy week. Against Centennial (April 11), we walked eight and hit three, and eight of them scored.
"But the kids are going good and playing hard. We do the best we can in the City League and hopefully we can step up in the (Division I district) tournament and surprise someone."
The district tournament starts Monday, May 7.
City teams prep for league meet
The City League track and field meet will be held Monday, May 7, and Wednesday, May 9, at Africentric.
On the boys side, among those who were ranked in the top five in last week's area honor roll and would appear to be the biggest favorites heading into the league meet are Africentric's Anthony Bowman in the high jump (6 feet, 5 inches), Walnut Ridge's Greco Battle in the long jump (22-8 1/2) and Eastmoor Academy's 3,200-meter relay of Bushra Bonkiye, Chris Chandler, Omavi Hamilton and Sean Hathorn (8 minutes, 9.44 seconds).
Eastmoor, which has won seven consecutive City boys titles, also has a pair of talented 400 runners in Wesley Prater and Roshaun Harper, both of whom have run faster than 52 seconds, while Bonkiye was among the top 10 in the area last week in the 800 (1:59.99) as was the Warriors' 1,600 relay (3:29.37).
The Northland girls are looking for their third consecutive City title.
Jeana Weatherspoon is among the favorites in the high jump after clearing 5-0 earlier this season, while Charlea Henley is one of the favorites in the long jump (16-10 3/4).
The Vikings' 400 relay was fourth in the area last week (50.2) and their 800 relay was eighth (1:47.47).
Also in last week's area honor roll, Beechcroft's Makiya Montgomery had the sixth-best time in the 200 (26.09) and the sixth-best time in the 100 (12.55).
Vikings softball team hangs tough in league
The Northland softball team was 6-6 overall and 6-4 in the City-North before playing Mifflin on April 30.
With an 18-6 win over Beechcroft on April 20, the Vikings earned a season sweep of their league rival.
The Vikings were no-hit in a 14-1 loss to Franklin Heights on April 21, but coach Dan Zedeker has been pleased with his team's offense overall despite not having junior shortstop Keyerra Norris for part of the season because of an injury.
Tenasia Watson has served as the team's No. 1 pitcher and second baseman Jayla McKinnie has been among the top hitters.
Also on April 21, Northland led West 17-1 after the first inning but lost 23-22.
"Our catcher, Ashley Edwards, has been good at nailing the runners at first and third base because they don't even know what's coming," Zedeker said. "Seven of our (first eight) games have been by run-rule, so we've been hitting the ball like crazy."