The way the Olentangy Liberty High School baseball team's pitchers performed throughout the Division I district tournament should stifle most of the anxiousness they might be feeling heading into the regional.
One of central Ohio's best pitchers, senior Mitch Milheim, could get the call when the Patriots play Lancaster in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at Dublin Coffman.
Milheim is 8-0 with a 1.18 ERA, one save and 63 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. He tossed three scoreless innings in relief as top-seeded Liberty beat 23rd-seeded Orange 2-1 in a district semifinal at Ohio Wesleyan that began May 15 and concluded the next day.
Jack Metzger, Michael Osmond and Brennan Rowe also are options to start the semifinal or if the Patriots reach the regional final against New Albany or Olentangy at 5 p.m. Friday, May 25, at Coffman.
Metzger went the first four innings against Orange and is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings. Rowe tossed a complete game as Liberty defeated 16th-seeded Marysville 5-4 in a district final May 17 at Coffman.
"We have a lot of pitchers who can come in at any time, and they'll be ready really quickly," Rowe said. "It's awesome because everyone executes very well and we've all bought in."
Should Liberty win the regional, it would play Solon, Massillon Jackson, Medina Highland or Mentor in a state semifinal June 1 at Huntington Park. The state final is the next day at the same site.
Against Marysville, the Patriots tied the game in the sixth when Connor Osmond walked and scored on a double by Justin Nelson.
Rowe's hit then drove in Mitchell Okuley with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Okuley went 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored from the leadoff spot, and Rowe was 2-for-4 with two RBI while batting third.
Against Orange, Carson Comer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in Craig Lutwen with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Liberty fell behind Orange 1-0 in the second before tying it in the sixth when Milhelm singled, moved to second on a sacrifice by Okuley and to third on an error before scoring on a single by Rowe.
"You talk about the spotlight of (trying to win a) district title, the mentality has been razor sharp and we've really shown a lot of poise," coach Ty Brenning said. "Never once did I believe that the moment was too big for us. It was an emotionally charged three days in a row with back-to-back seven-inning walkoffs. We've had good pitching, and it's been a lot of fun."
Girls lacrosse team battles in regional
The second-seeded girls lacrosse team defeated third-seeded Olentangy 14-11 on May 21 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal. The game was postponed with 1:51 remaining, but did not resume because of bad weather.
The Patriots will face top-seeded New Albany in the regional final Thursday, May 24, at a neutral site.
The regional champion will play Massillon Jackson or Hudson in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 30, at a site to be announced.
The state championship game is June 2 at Ohio Wesleyan.
Liberty was 16-2 after defeating Olentangy, which it also beat 19-18 on May 1. The Patriots have won 14 games in a row.
On May 18, the Patriots defeated fifth-seeded Orange 13-5 in a regional quarterfinal as Madison Rapier had four goals, Mollie McCormack scored three and Molly Bursinger and Emma Shear each scored twice.
Boys lacrosse team makes regional semi
The second-seeded boys lacrosse team was 13-6 before playing third-seeded Olentangy on May 22 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal.
The winner faces top-seeded Coffman or fourth-seeded Dublin Jerome in a regional final Friday, May 25, at a site to be announced.
If the Patriots win the regional, they will face Cleveland St. Ignatius, North Canton Hoover, Hudson or Massillon Jackson in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 30, at a site to be announced. The state final is June 2 at Ohio Wesleyan.
Liberty beat Hudson 10-6 on April 21. St. Ignatius earned the top seed in Region 2 after falling to Cincinnati Moeller 9-8 in two overtimes in last year's state final.
After opening the regional tournament with a 14-4 win over 13th-seeded Dublin Scioto on May 15, the Patriots beat eighth-seeded Orange 11-6 on May 18 in a rematch of a game they won 9-4 on April 17.
Johnny Wiseman and Aidan Kenley scored three goals and Kyle Dolan had two goals against Scioto. In the tournament win over Orange, Spencer Towne scored three goals and Wiseman and John Paolo each had two.
Skylar Wahlund made nine saves in both contests.
Girls track team is district runner-up
The girls track and field team is 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 14-team district 3 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, the Patriots scored 103 points to finish second behind North (109) as the top four in each event qualified for regional.
Carrie Lawal won the 200 meters (26.02 seconds) and Gracie Sprankle finished first in the 3,200 (10:46.09) while Sydney Englehart and Nicole Tonetti shared the title in the long jump (17 feet, 1 3/4 inches).
Englehart also placed third in the 100 (12.53) and fourth in the 400 (59.34), and Lawal was fourth in the 100 (12.6).
Other third-place finishes were turned in by Emma Bower in the 3,200 (11:01.13) and Mollie Kunar in the shot put (36-0). Placing fourth were Jenna Culver in the high jump (5-0), the 400 relay of Lawal, Sienna Sakich, Lauren Walsh and Brea White (49.56) and the 800 relay of Englehart, Lawal, Tonetti and White (1:44.87).
Coming up just short of advancing to regional were Sophie Culver in the high jump (sixth, 4-11), Kelsey Mockler in the 100 hurdles (fifth, 16.23), Audrey Piero in the 1,600 (fifth, 5:19.67), Reagan Smollen in the 100 hurdles (sixth, 16.25) and the 3,200 relay of Bower, Piero, Sprankle and Divya Patel (fifth, 9:38.43).
Boys track team battling at regional
The boys track team is competing in the Division I regional after placing fifth (65.5) behind champion Orange (133) in the 14-team district 3 meet.
Luke Bendick won the pole vault (14-4) and his brother, Andrew Bendick, earned runner-up finishes in the 100 (11.35) and 200 (22.66).
The 3,200 relay of Adam Clark, Drew Folwarczny, Will Koberna and Joseph Johnson was third (8:04.0).
Placing fourth were Johnson in the 800 (1:57.51), Ryan Miller in the 110 hurdles (15.55), Jared Whitfield in the high jump (5-10) and the 400 relay of Andrew Bendick, Mehul Hatwar, Aidan McClure and Ubby Suligavi (44.21).
Whitfield won a jump-off with Jerome's Ezra Strickland for the final regional-qualifying berth in the high jump (5-10).
Boys volleyball team makes regional semi
The seventh-seeded boys volleyball team was 13-6 before playing sixth-seeded Gahanna on May 22 in a Division I East Region semifinal at Olentangy.
The winner will face second-seeded Olentangy or eighth-seeded Westerville Central in a regional final at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 25, at Westerville Central.
The regional champion will play in the state tournament June 2 and 3 at Capital University.
Liberty closed the regular season by beating Worthington Kilbourne 25-13, 25-20 on May 15 in the OCC Challenge and opened the postseason by beating 12th-seeded Coffman 25-14, 25-22, 25-27, 25-22 on May 19 in a second-round match at Olentangy.
Tennis season ends at district
On May 17 in the Division I district tournament at Hilliard Bradley, the boys tennis doubles team of senior Adithya Nair and freshman Vishnu Bodavula lost to Upper Arlington's Nathan Yu and Paige Kompa 6-2, 7-5 in a first-round match.
That concluded the season for the Patriots, who went 7-5 overall and placed third (3-2) in the OCC-Buckeye Division behind Orange (5-0) and Olentangy (4-1) while Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South all tied for fourth (1-4).
In a sectional May 10 and 12 at Pickerington Central, senior K.J. Lawal lost in the second round and sophomores Marcelo Aguilar and Tarun Nandakumar lost in the first round in singles. The doubles team of senior Samanyu Das and freshman Arvind Nair lost in the first round.
Bodavula spent much of the season at first singles, with Aguilar at second singles.
Others eligible to return include sophomores Alvin Anand and Srihar Chakravarthy and freshmen Matt Bu and Nanda Srivenkateswaran.
"Everybody had a really good season, and we were really happy with the way they performed," coach Josh Matusky said. "They came along as a team and grew a lot."