Given that Olentangy High School softball pitcher Sophie Low occasionally has struggled early in games, Braves coach Alan Tharp has extended her pre-game work in an effort to get her comfortable quicker.

That approach seemed to work May 18, as Low gave up a single to Reynoldsburg pitcher Mackenzie Huey on the second pitch of the game but virtually nothing thereafter as the 13th-seeded Braves beat the 18th-seeded Raiders 3-0 at Pickerington Central to win their first district championship since 1999.

Low scattered three hits, striking out seven and walking one. She did not allow another hit until the sixth inning.

“Toward the middle of the season, we noticed I was getting off to a slow start, so (Tharp) is having me throw before the game to get looser,” Low said. “I had my defense behind me and I wasn’t worried. As the game went on, I felt stronger.”

Olentangy improved to 18-11 and will play Gahanna or Mount Vernon in a regional semifinal May 23 at Ohio State.

The Braves got all the offense they needed in the second inning, when Emily Gernert and Olivia Gregory had back-to-back one-out singles and Gernert scored on an error. Gregory came home on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

“The bottom of the lineup came through for us again,” Tharp said. “The top of the lineup is rolling, but if the bottom comes through, we can get a lot of runs fast.”

Payton Cox doubled in Morgan Cox in the fifth to give Olentangy a 3-0 lead.

Reynoldsburg, which was seeking its first district title, finished 15-10.

Division II

Jonathan Alder 20, Big Walnut 3

Second-seeded Jonathan Alder hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Emily Walker, and rolled past fifth-seeded Big Walnut in five innings in a Division II district final May 18 at Pickerington Central.

The Golden Eagles, whom coach Jeff Hatfield said “ran into a buzzsaw,” took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and led 2-1 before the Pioneers erupted for six runs in the bottom of the second and 13 in the third.

In the bottom of the third, Jonathan Alder’s Lindsey Potter and Katelyn Perkins each hit a three-run homer and Walker followed with the grand slam. Potter also hit a solo home run in the first inning.

“I’ve never been in an inning like we were in, in the third inning,” Hatfield said. “They had a grand slam and two three-run homers. … I heard their coach and their parents say, ‘Man, we’ve never hit like this,’ and it was something I’ve never seen in my years of coaching.”

Jonathan Alder improved to 19-3 and advanced to a regional semifinal May 23 at Mason.

Hailey Krinn had two of the six hits for Big Walnut, which finished 12-13.

—Scott Gerfen

Division III

North Union 11, Ready 1

A season after beating top-seeded North Union in a Division III district final, fourth-seeded Ready was unable to create the same result in the rematch against the top-seeded Wildcats in a district final May 18 at Pickerington Central.

North Union got a three-run home run by Madison Amstutz in the fifth inning to complete the victory and capture its first district title since 2015.

The Silver Knights got a solo home run from Ashlyn Muraco in the second inning to cut their deficit to 2-1. The Wildcats scored four runs in the third and one in the fourth before finishing off the win with four in the fifth.

North Union pitcher Madison Wedding gave up just three hits to Ready, which finished 15-10.

“We just didn’t play our game today,” Silver Knights coach Jen Goff said. “We just struggled. (Wedding) kept you guessing, moving the ball down and out. We had effective at bats. … It was an off day.”

North Union improved to 23-2 and advanced to a regional semifinal May 23 at Wright State.

—Jarrod Ulrey

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