During a 15-0 loss to Olentangy on April 13 that represented the only time it was shut out during the regular season, the Reynoldsburg High School softball team managed just one hit.
The Raiders got another chance to face Braves pitcher Sophie Low on May 18 in a Division I district final at Pickerington Central, but the rematch didn't go much better.
Senior pitcher Mackenzie Huey led off the game with a hit, but 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg got just two additional hits and one walk off Low as the 13th-seeded Braves won 3-0 for their first district title since 1999.
"I still haven't figured it out," coach Tony Rettke said. "We watched video (from the regular-season loss) and looked at why we couldn't hit her. We thought we had a good plan, but we didn't really execute very well. She's got to have something I'm not seeing from third base. The mix is good, the speed is good and she just kept us hanging. That's twice she's almost hung a goose egg on us. Hats off to her."
In a matchup of teams that pulled district semifinal upsets, Olentangy took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Emily Gernert and Olivia Gregory had back-to-back one-out singles and Gernert scored on an error. Gregory then came home on a wild pitch.
The Braves completed the scoring in the fifth when Payton Cox doubled in Morgan Cox.
While Olentangy improved to 18-11, Reynoldsburg finished 15-10 overall while coming up short of winning its first district championship.
It marked the first winning season for the Raiders since 2003.
"It was pretty similar (to the first matchup)," said junior Olivia Rettke, a pitcher and infielder. "We were trying to prepare all week, but I don't think we executed well in the game. We had hits but they just didn't come together to score any runs or do anything major."
The Braves beat seventh-seeded Hilliard Bradley 3-2 on May 14 in a district semifinal and the Raiders upset second-seeded Central Crossing 3-0 the same night at Pickerington Central to set up the district final.
It was Reynoldsburg's first time in a district semifinal since 1999.
Against the Comets, sophomore Nicole Pearce (C/OF) hit a solo home run in the third and the Raiders added one run each in the fifth and seventh in support of Huey, who allowed just three hits.
"The Central Crossing game was huge, and those big games always take some momentum out of you, but I thought we prepared really well and the excitement was there," coach Rettke said. "We hit Central Crossing pretty decently. ... I'm content with what we did."
Huey, who struck out six in the tournament loss, finished 9-7 with a 1.74 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 108 2/3 innings. She split time in the circle with Olivia Rettke, who went 5-3 with a 3.92 ERA.
The Raiders opened the postseason with a 13-1 home win over 41st-seeded Columbus West on May 7 and beat 22nd-seeded Olentangy Liberty 9-4 on May 9 in the second round at home.
They improved from 1-9 in the OCC-Ohio Division last season to go 4-6 and place fifth behind Lancaster (8-2), Central (7-3), Gahanna (5-5) and Grove City (5-5) and ahead of Pickerington North (1-9).
The Raiders went 9-13 overall last season after finishing 6-21 in coach Rettke's first season in 2016. That season, Reynoldsburg also snapped a 101-game OCC-Ohio losing streak.
"(Athletics director Jacob Perkins) kind of had high hopes for me last year when the season went the way it did and said we needed to try to get to .500 in the OCC-Ohio," coach Rettke said. "(At the district tournament drawing) I thought there was a way of at least getting two home games. The goal was to get home-field advantage so we'd have two home games, clean out the concession stand and be ready to go for next year. We ended up (in a district final).
"This was a special team, but hopefully the bar was raised for everybody down the line and that they're excited to take things a little farther."
Huey, who will play for Mount Vernon Nazarene, finished with 11 home runs, 30 RBI, a .563 batting average and 24 walks in addition to being the No. 1 pitcher.
Senior Fury Caldwell (SS) had 16 RBI. Kylee Durham (2B) and Faith Terry (OF) also were key seniors.
Olivia Rettke batted .338 with three home runs and 16 RBI, and Pearce hit .378 with four home runs, 15 RBI and a team-best 31 runs.
Juniors Zoe Kirk (C/OF), Alexis Langwasser (OF), Amanda McIntyre (OF) and Alejandro Zamora (3B/C) also were contributors. Kirk batted .305 with 12 RBI.
"We have a good chance to make another run next year," Olivia Rettke said. "When the eighth-graders see this and freshmen who were not on varsity see it, they're going to see that we can do it and put in the work in the offseason."
Track teams prep for regional meet
The boys and girls track and field teams are competing in the Division I regional meet, which began May 23 and concludes Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
In the district 2 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, the boys finished fifth (49) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (109) and the girls were seventh (31) of 16 teams behind champion Gahanna (164).
The top four in each event advanced to regional.
Capturing titles for the boys were Lance Gauthney in the 400 meters (49.14 seconds) and the 1,600 relay of Muhammed Fall, Gauthney, Doniven Jackson and Dionte Roddy (3:24.42).
Fall also was third in the 110 hurdles (14.91) and third in the 300 hurdles (39.93), and the 800 relay of Keyshawn Brown, Camby Goff, Jackson and Roddy was second (1:30.21).
For the girls, Nia Amerson was runner-up in the discus (112 feet, 9 inches), Jessica Ricks was second in the 100 hurdles (15.39) and the 1,600 relay of Sherita Ingram, Bre Johnson, Tayla Lee and Adja Mbow was fourth (4:08.73).
Volleyball team falls in tourney
The 17th-seeded boys volleyball team lost to 18th-seeded Westerville South 25-23, 28-26, 25-22 on May 18 at Darby in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament.
The Raiders, who also lost to the Wildcats 25-19, 25-21 on May 15 in the OCC Challenge, finished 5-18.
Most of tennis team to return
The boys tennis team is losing just one player to graduation in Daniel Pavlovski, who spent most of the season on junior varsity.
The Raiders went 7-12 overall and finished 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio behind tri-champions Gahanna, Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (4-1), Lancaster (2-3) and Grove City (1-4).
In a Division I sectional May 10 at home, junior Preston Harmon won a play-in match before losing in the first round.
He played second singles much of the season.
Junior Boban Mihajlov, who played first singles, lost in the first round while junior Sean Burns, who played third singles and doubles during the regular season, lost in a play-in match.
In doubles at sectional, juniors Chase Cotner and Mick Garlinger lost in the second round and freshmen Brian McClain and Dane Myers lost in the first round.
Ryan Burch was another freshman who contributed.
Coach Les Somogyi is excited about the district's junior high team going 14-0.
"I've got three freshmen who played this year, and in the next couple years I have guys coming up from the junior high, so it'll be awesome," Somogyi said.