Making it to a district championship game practically has been an annual tradition over the past decade for the Watterson High School baseball team.
The Eagles didn't leave with the piece of hardware they sought May 17 as they lost 2-0 to third-seeded Lakewood in a Division II district final at New Albany, but it wasn't lost on players like senior Josh Brobst how special the latest run was.
Eighth-seeded Watterson, which finished 18-10 overall, made its 10th district final appearance in the last 11 seasons. It was the Eagles' second consecutive loss in a district final after winning back-to-back titles in 2015 and '16.
"It was important for us to make it back there, but it wasn't the final goal we had in mind," Brobst said.
In the third inning against Lakewood, junior second baseman Adam Fallon reached on a one-out double and moved to third on a groundout but failed to score. In the fifth inning, junior center fielder Same Greiner, the No. 9 hitter, singled, stole second and moved to third on an error but was left stranded.
The Eagles managed just two hits against Lakewood, which took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and added a run in the second.
Junior relief pitcher Drake McAninch gave up a hit to drive in the second run, which was charged to senior starter Jacob Wakefield, but McAninch allowed just four hits in four innings while striking out four.
Junior Stephen Garrett tossed a scoreless sixth inning to help keep the game close.
"We only had two hits," coach Scott Manahan said. "It's hard to win a district championship game with two hits. The big one was that we had runners on first and second with one out (in the sixth) and ... had an inning-ending double play.
"Drake showed so much heart. He really did a nice job this year. He came in in a tough situation and battled and battled, and he's only a junior. The kid that relieved after him, Stevie Garrett, is just a junior. It was a great experience for them to pitch in that kind of atmosphere."
Watterson went 4-4 in the CCL to tie St. Charles for third, behind co-champions DeSales and Hartley (both 6-2) and ahead of Ready (0-8).
The Eagles opened the district tournament by defeating 11th-seeded Granville 14-5 in the second round May 10 and beat top-seeded Bloom-Carroll 3-1 in a district semifinal May 14.
Watterson is losing 11 seniors, led by Brobst (LF/P), Cole Andrews (C), Eric Entler (3B), Nick Hurley (P), Nate Meyer (SS), Carson Peck (1B) and Jacob Wakefield (P).
Brobst, who batted .376 with 19 RBI and was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA, and Andrews, who hit .385 with 12 RBI, both were first-team all-district. Peck batted .349 with two home runs and 14 RBI and was honorable mention all-district. Brobst will play for Lake Erie College and Andrews has committed to Miami University.
Meyer, who has committed to Cincinnati, finished with 15 RBI.
Wakefield was 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 36 innings and Hurley was 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 36 innings.
McAninch is expected to return to lead the pitching staff after going 2-4 with a 3.17 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 42 innings. Sophomore pitcher Noah Truax went 4-0 with a 3.16 ERA.
Fallon should return after hitting. 333 with one home run and a team-high 21 RBI. Junior Grant Horvath (C/INF) hit .304 in 59 at-bats.
Junior Ryan Roark (INF/P) is another eligible to return.
After splitting their first 16 games, the Eagles had won 10 of 11 contests heading into the district final.
"We stayed disciplined and kept doing all the little things right, and we knew things were going to start falling our way," Brobst said. "Everybody was really all in this year and eventually we started to see that transform onto the field as the season went on."
Track teams open postseason action
The track and field teams opened their respective postseasons last week, with the girls competing in the Division I, district 3 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby and the boys competing in the Division II, district 1 meet that ended May 19 at Westerville North.
The boys finished seventh (53 points) of 12 teams, behind champion Hartley (120).
Erik Placke was runner-up in the discus (128 feet, 4 inches) and the 3,200-meter relay of Will Garey, Matthew Hartel, Nick Kuraly and Matthew Lamb also placed second (8 minutes, 21.76 seconds).
Tony Rogner placed third in the 400 (51.05), Kuraly was third in the 3,200 (10:13.38) and the 1,600 relay of Hartel, Lamb, Rogner and Nick Youell was fourth (3:32.17).
Hartel placed fifth in the 800 (2:01.41), one spot shy of qualifying for the regional meet Thursday, May 24, and Saturday, May 26, at Lexington.
The girls finished ninth (24) of 14 teams at district, behind champion Pickerington North (109).
The 1,600 relay of Erin Connors, Anna Kessler, Cailin O'Reilly and Jane Porter placed third (4:05.89) and will represent the Eagles at the regional that began May 23 and concludes Friday, May 25, at Pickerington North.
The 800 relay of Connors, Kessler, O'Reilly and Kilyn McGuff placed fifth (1:48.36) at district to miss advancing by one spot.
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Boys lacrosse team reaches regional semi
The third-seeded boys lacrosse team won 12-6 at eighth-seeded Bellbrook in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal May 17 and was 10-6 before playing at second-seeded Buckeye Valley in a semifinal May 21.
The winner plays top-seeded DeSales or fifth-seeded Kettering Alter in a regional final Thursday, May 24, at a neutral site. The regional champion faces Cincinnati Indian Hill, Cincinnati Mariemont, Cincinnati Seven Hills or Cincinnati Summit Country Day in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 30, at a neutral site.
The state final is June 2 at Ohio Wesleyan.
Watterson opened the postseason with a 22-5 win over 13th-seeded Jonathan Alder on May 14.
Boys volleyball team wins tourney opener
The third-seeded boys volleyball team opened the postseason by beating fifth-seeded DeSales 25-15, 20-25, 25-17, 29-27 in the second round of the Division II East Region tournament May 19 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The Eagles played at second-seeded Kilbourne in a regional semifinal May 22, with the winner facing top-seeded St. Charles or seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto in a regional final Friday, May 25, at Westerville Central.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 2 at Capital.
Girls lacrosse team falls to Vikings
The seventh-seeded girls lacrosse team opened the Division II, Region 7 tournament with a 13-4 victory over 10th-seeded Big Walnut on May 17 before losing to second-seeded Columbus Academy 18-2 in a regional quarterfinal May 19.
Watterson, which also lost to Academy 13-4 on April 19, finished 7-12.
Against Big Walnut, Emma Coleman, Emily Dixon and Abbey Giesler each had three goals, Victoria Alves and Margaret Baur both scored two and goalkeeper Regan Abahazie made nine saves. The Eagles won despite not having senior midfielder Nina Buoni, who missed the game because of another commitment.
Buoni scored both of the Eagles' goals in the tournament loss to Academy.
All of tennis team eligible to return
Junior Chris Finissi represented the boys tennis team in the Division II district tournament May 17 at Columbus Academy, losing to the Vikings' Arie Tuckerman 6-4, 6-4 in a first-round singles match.
"The first set he was down 3-0 and got it back to 3-2. Then he was down 5-2 and got it back to 5-4," coach Ryan Schwieterman said. "He could have easily given up. It might have been one of the better matches he's played all season. Chris is a junior, so he's got another year. Chris had huge growth from last year, so we'll have him for another year, which is nice to have."
Watterson finished 6-6 overall and went 3-1 in the CCL to place second, behind St. Charles (4-0) and ahead of DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
In singles at the sectional May 10 and 12 at Columbus School for Girls, Finissi finished fourth, while freshmen Johnny DiOrio and Luke Ritchie both lost in the second round. In doubles, junior Jacob Devendra and freshman Adam Pavliga lost in a quarterfinal and freshmen Nick Geelan and Cole Petrilla lost in the second round.
"We had five freshmen and two juniors in our lineup, so that's kind of what we focused on after sectionals," Schwieterman said. "The record doesn't say we were better than the previous year, but with a team of five freshmen, our talent has gone up considerably in a year. For the freshmen, match experience is huge."
Downing steps down as swimming coach
Megan Downing Teeters recently stepped down after five seasons as swimming and diving coach.
At the state meet this past season, the boys team finished seventh in Division II and the girls team placed 21st in Division I. Both teams were CCL runners-up.
The boys team's 200-yard freestyle relay won the first state title in boys program history.
"(Downing Teeters) did an excellent job with our kids and growing the program to a point where it has become one of our largest sports here at Watterson," athletics director Doug Etgen said. "I believe we have the opportunity to become a powerful team, both boys and girls, in central Ohio for years to come thanks to the work Megan did for us."
Etgen said he hopes to fill the vacancy this summer.