As the Westerville Central High School softball team celebrated its first district title, a key member of the program proudly watched in joy.
Olivia Wamsley, a former standout pitcher for the Wa-rhawks, has been the pitching coach for six seasons under her father, coach Brian Wamsley.
Olivia was the starting pitcher on the 2007 team that lost to Pickerington Central 9-0 in a district final. She has been the pitching coach during the last three final appearances, including a 2-0 win over the host and 16th-seeded Tigers on May 19.
"This is the only time in school history that I have had the opportunity to touch a district championship trophy," she said. "I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of all of these district final games at my high school and I could not be more proud of the girls for accomplishing something great."
The Warhawks lost to Gahanna 4-1 in 2014 and 9-1 in 2013 in their other district final appearances.
Westerville Central, which was seeded 19th in the district, was 18-9 before playing Teays Valley in a Division I regional semifinal May 23 at Ohio State. The winner plays Olentangy or Gahanna in a regional final Saturday, May 26, at Ohio State.
The Warhawks split two OCC-Buckeye Division games against Olentangy, losing 10-2 on April 26 and winning 6-5 on May 3.
The regional champion plays in a state semifinal May 31 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Junior pitcher Sydney Stepp helped lead the Warhawks to the district title. She gave up seven hits, struck out eight and walked one.
"I just focused on moving the ball," Stepp said. "I knew if I missed it over the plate, there was a chance they'd hit it over the fence. They're a good hitting team. My defense played very well. They caught everything."
Brian Wamsley credited Stepp, who has been battling a bruised elbow, for limiting the Tigers' potent lineup.
"The main thing was not letting some of their biggest hitters beat us," he said. "Sydney hit all of her spots. She did well with all of her pitches. Anytime you have a bruised elbow and hit it on your hip, it can be excruciating pain. But she did a great job for us."
The Warhawks scored both of their runs in the fifth. Grace Musilli walked to lead off the inning, advanced to third base on a sacrifice and an error and scored on Cami Compson's single.
Avrey Schumacher singled in Emily O'Dee to make it 2-0.
Pickerington Central loaded the bases in the sixth and put two runners on in the seventh but could not score.
With his team faced with an 8-9 record and riding a three-game losing streak, Brian Wamsley decided to alter the defense, with O'Dee moving from second base to shortstop and Kylie Collins from shortstop to second.
Wamsley also made a slight adjustment in the batting order, leading to a 10-game winning streak entering the contest against Teays Valley.
"It made some of these girls so much better just moving them one spot or so in the order," he said. "I can't explain it other than they've come together as a team and all of a sudden they started believing that they could beat anybody. Their confidence level is sky high right now."
In a tune-up for the regional semifinal, the Warhawks defeated Cardington 8-4 on May 21 as Compson homered twice.
Track and field teams competing at regional
The boys and girls track and field teams opened the Division I regional meet May 23 at Pickerington North after strong showings at district, which concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to regional, which concludes Friday, May 25. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
McKenna Fry led the girls team in the district 2 meet. She won the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 58.71 seconds) and 3,200 (11:29.2) and joined Chloe Ey, Sydney Kapral and Kayla Jones on the second-place 3,200 relay (9:08.25).
"I felt really good in my (1,600), so I wish I would have taken advantage of that and went a little faster, but it is what it is and I got a win so that was really good," Fry said. "The next two weeks the times will be really low and I'm excited to go and race some people."
Mabinty Kebe won the 300 hurdles (44.79) and finished third in the 100 hurdles (15.77).
Moriah Johnson, Skylar Themelaras, Delaney Reed and Savannah Hall won the 400 relay (49.22), and Hall was second in the 100 (13.11).
Kendall Allen, Johnson, Chiedza Guyo and Princella Ackon were second in the 800 relay (1:45.12), and Jones, Kapral, Kebe and Ey were second in the 1,600 relay (4:00.01).
Kapral and Ey were third (2:17.25) and fourth (2:17.77), respectively, in the 800.
Allen was third in the long jump (16 feet, 2 3/4 inches), Juliet Bernard was fourth in the shot put (33-11) and Gianna Brooks was fourth in the pole vault (10-0).
The Warhawks finished second (119) of 16 teams behind Gahanna (164).
For the boys in district 1, Luke Finnegan won the 200 (22.4) and was second in the 400 (48.89), and Devon Richardson was second in the discus (141-8).
Placing second were Finnegan, D.J. Johnson, Nathan Schroeder and Rickey Hyatt in the 800 relay (1:29.55) and Hyatt, Schroeder, Dymon Gainey and Austin Smith in the 1,600 relay (3:23.15).
Hyatt was third in the 110 hurdles (15.72) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.81), and Smith was fourth in the 1,600 (4:26.3).
Smith, Gainey, Joshua South and Sam Reyes were fourth in the 3,200 relay (8:05.46).
Central finished third (77) of 16 teams behind champion Pickerington Central (158).
Boys volleyball team eliminates North
The boys volleyball team advanced to a Division I East Region semifinal with a 25-15, 18-25, 25-22, 27-25 win over ninth-seeded Westerville North on May 19 at Olentangy.
The eighth-seeded War-hawks were 15-7 before playing second-seeded Olentangy on May 22, with the winner playing sixth-seeded Gahanna or seventh-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a regional final Friday, May 25, at Central.
Central lost to Liberty 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 on April 12 and 25-20, 23-25, 25-14, 25-17 on May 1 in OCC-Buckeye action.
The regional champion advances to a state quarterfinal June 2 at Capital University.
Boys lacrosse team loses tourney game
The sixth-seeded boys lacrosse team lost to seventh-seeded Darby 10-7 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 15 at home to finish 8-10.