Joey Bertani was grinning from ear to ear as he strode toward home plate May 1.
Bertani scored from second base on a sixth-inning single by Luke Sterneker, giving the Grandview Heights High School baseball team an 11-1, run-rule victory over visiting Ready after the game was tied at 1 in the fifth.
Grandview, which went 10-14 last season, is 14-12 overall. The Bobcats are looking for their first winning season since going 20-8 in 2009.
The spirit Bertani showed in scoring the game-ending run is part of fourth-year coach Tyler Fitzgerald's master plan.
"Coach has taught us that we need to keep things positive," said Bertani, a sophomore first baseman who leads the Bobcats in batting average (.451), home runs (3), RBI (22), doubles (14) and on-base percentage (.526) and has scored 22 runs. "You have to think about the next play and not the previous game.
"We have gotten the bats going a little more (than last year) and we have been playing more as a team. We have a lot more trust in each other."
Sterneker, a senior, played varsity as a sophomore when the Bobcats finished 6-19. He said the chemistry of this year's team has made a difference.
"People love playing baseball this year," he said. "It's not like we're forced to come to the diamond.
"We (had) games Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (last week) and we love coming here every day. We all love coming here hitting the ball. We have a lot of positive energy, good leadership, good coaches, and it takes us a long way."
With two games remaining in the MSL-Ohio Division schedule last week, the Bobcats needed to sweep first-place London to win their first league title since 2009. They lost to London 16-13 on April 30 and 13-6 on May 2 to finish 5-5 in the league. The Red Raiders, who depart for the Ohio Heritage Conference next season, finished first at 8-2.
"We had a tough stretch there, but these guys have been putting themselves in a position to win," Fitzgerald said. "We're young and trying to build for the future. Things seem to be trending in the right direction."
While Bertani is a sophomore, the top two pitchers also are underclassmen in junior Jon Vetter (4-0, 3.05 ERA, 24 strikeouts, 24 walks, 41 1/3 innings) and sophomore Luke Berlin (3-1, 3.35 ERA, 23 strikeouts, 4 walks, 37 2/3 innings). Bertani (1-3, 1.09 ERA, 20 strikeouts, 13 walks, 32 innings) and junior Gavin Van Horn (3-3, 3.39 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 30 walks, 20 2/3 innings) also are contributing on the mound.
"I think the spring-break trip to Tennessee that we took this year helped us come together as a team," Berlin said. "We faced a lot of tough competition and came out 2-2. That helped boost our confidence and it showed us what we can do.
"There is a lot more positivity in the dugout and a lot more energy as a whole. We're making plays and have the confidence in each other to get the job done."
Sophomore Sam Amurgis is batting .373 with 19 RBI, 21 runs and a .470 on-base percentage, and junior Jake Hollar is hitting .390 with 17 RBI, a .485 on-base percentage and team highs in runs (31) and stolen bases (11).
Sterneker is batting .333 with 14 RBI and 14 runs, and senior Cam Richards is hitting .329 with 12 RBI and 14 runs.
"The cohesion of this group is great," Fitzgerald said. "Some people like Joey Bertani are better at hitting, others like Luke Berlin (are) better at pitching and we have Jake Hollar stealing away hits (defensively). We have a good nucleus, but we have contributions from all over the lineup."
The Bobcats are seeded 10th of 20 teams for the Division III district tournament and open Thursday, May 10, at home against 11th-seeded Marion Pleasant in the second round. They lost to the Spartans 19-9 in six innings April 28.
"We're glad Marion Pleasant came after us," Fitzgerald said. "It's a game we wanted back because we didn't play up to our potential.
"We kind of showed the Grandview teams of old and let the weather conditions take a toll on us in a morning game. We didn't bring the best version of ourselves. ... Marion Pleasant is a storied program, and I'm sure they will bring their best game as well."
The winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined against third-seeded Fredericktown, 18th-seeded Ready or 19th-seeded Mount Gilead. The district final is May 17.
Track teams to begin postseason
The boys and girls track and field teams start the postseason with the Division III, district 1 meet Tuesday, May 15, May 17 and May 19 at Watkins Memorial.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 23 and 25 at Fairfield Union.
The Bobcats began competition in the MSL-Ohio meet May 8. The meet concludes Friday, May 11, at London.
The teams closed the regular season in a home tri-meet May 1 as the girls finished second (71) behind Fairbanks (78) and ahead of Hamilton Township (60).
Whitney Schaefer won the 100-meter hurdles (17.24 seconds) and 300 hurdles (46.54), and Liza DeVere won the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches). Nina Amicon was first in the 800 (2:31.87) and Sarah Hall won the 1,600 (6:01.36).
The 800 relay of Schaefer, Kacey Murphy, Hannah Yochem and Maddy Morosky won in 1:48.68, and the 1,600 relay of Amicon, Murphy, Morosky and DeVere was first in 4:30.22.
The boys won the distance events to finish third (64) behind Fairbanks (84) and Hamilton Township (65). Liam Kerr won the 3,200 (10:36.46), Ravi Kumar was first in the 1,600 (5:06.18), Chris Miller won the 800 (2:05.62) and Eli Evans won the 400 (53.27).
Also finishing first were the 3,200 relay (8:26.6) of Kerr, Eli Hall, Derek Amicon and Evans, the 1,600 relay (3:43.38) of Evans, Jack Kessler, Ben Murphy and Miller and the 400 relay (49.16) of Johnnie Herlihy, Quinn Tillett, Kenny Ramsey and P.J. Tingler.
Softball team opens postseason
The ninth-seeded softball team opened the Division IV district tournament May 7 at fifth-seeded Granville Christian.
The winner played third-seeded Fairfield Christian or 12th-seeded Grove City Christian in the second round May 9.
The second-round winner plays second-seeded Danville, seventh-seeded Fisher Catholic, 10th-seeded Delaware Christian or 15th-seeded Patriot Prep in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a neutral site to be determined. The Bobcats defeated Patriot Prep 25-0 in five innings April 27.
The district final is May 18 or 19 at Pickerington Central.
The Bobcats finished the regular season 5-14 overall and 2-6 in the MSL-Ohio. They lost to London 8-3 on April 30 and 14-3 in seven innings May 2 to close league play.
On May 1, Jenna Richards hit a two-run double to drive in Kayleigh Grindley and Emma Murphy, capping a six-run seventh inning in a 12-11 victory over visiting Centennial.
Megan Roberts had a double and two singles, Claire Bower, Jayla Coplan and Richards all had a double and single, Carolyn LaPrete had two singles and Marissa Tose tripled.
Boys tennis team prepares for sectional
The boys tennis team opens the postseason in a Division II sectional Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Columbus Academy.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 17 at Academy and May 19 at Upper Arlington.
Brett Holcomb, Calvin Horning and Matt York will play singles for the Bobcats. The doubles teams will be Bryan Gilleland and Patrick Rowland and Aidan Papandria and Leighton Williams.
The Bobcats were 5-7 overall before playing Bloom-Carroll on May 8 and 2-3 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Worthington Christian on May 9.