Jordan Nagle, a sophomore second baseman for the Bexley High School softball team, admits she was a little reluctant to step into the batter's box last season.

Jordan Nagle, a sophomore second baseman for the Bexley High School softball team, admits she was a little reluctant to step into the batter's box last season.

Not only did she struggle hitting the ball, but she was struck by six pitches.

"Last year, I was scared because it was my first year of the varsity softball," Nagle said. "It was a big change for me. The varsity pitchers are a lot faster than middle school. I'd think, 'I'll just go up there, strike out and it'll be over with.'"

This year, Nagle is more comfortable at the plate and has become a much more difficult out. After going 1-for-1 with a single and two walks in a 17-10 loss to Franklin Heights on April 17, she was the Lions' leading hitter with a .484 batting average.

Other top hitters for the Lions through 16 games included junior shortstop Briana Stewart, who was batting .433 with four home runs, and sophomore third baseman Abby Lowenstein, who was hitting .371.

"I don't know if we had anyone hitting in the .300s last year," coach Rick Wemlinger said. "This year, we've got three players who are hitting over .300. That is something that hasn't happened in a while."

"(Hitting) is definitely one of our strengths," Nagle said. "I've noticed a big difference. Last year, we had no confidence at the plate. This year, people have a lot more confidence and are hitting the ball a lot more."

Wemlinger said the Lions focused on improving their hitting during preseason training. The players faced a pitching machine early in preseason practice, but because of good weather, they spent most of the preseason outside going against "live" pitching.

Bexley had eight hits against Franklin Heights and 12 hits in an 11-1 win over Worthington Christian on April 19 as pitcher Maria Kahan allowed only one hit. However, the Lions were held without a hit in a 12-0, five-inning loss to Licking Valley on April 16 and had only four hits in a 10-0, five-inning loss to Heath on April 18.

"We can hit, but it's keeping the other teams from scoring that's the problem," said Wemlinger, whose team was 4-14 before playing Newark Catholic on April 23. "I know we are better than our record indicates. We just can't get over the hump. We're like the Columbus Blue Jackets. We got off to a bad start and it just snowballed.

"These girls want to get better. They're tired of losing. I told them the other day I am not used to getting beat and I don't like it. They are starting to get it. When they lose 2-1 or 6-5, they're saying, 'One thing here or one thing there and we could have won this game.' I have faith that (winning) is going to happen. We're going to surprise someone."

Boys tennis team has key match vs. Viking

The boys tennis team has a key MSL-Ohio/Cardinal Division match on Tuesday, May 1, at Columbus Academy.

"We're as evenly matched as we've been in a long time," said coach G.J. Seckel, whose team was tied with Academy for first in the Division II area coaches poll last week. "There's not any clear-cut favorite. If we played 10 times, we'd each win five."

Last season, the Lions ended a 10-year league title drought by defeating Academy 3-2 and winning all the three singles courts in the MSL-Ohio/Cardinal tournament. Bexley went 6-0 in the league dual matches and concluded the league tournament with 47 points to finish ahead of Academy (43, 5-1), Granville (29, 4-2), Fisher Catholic (17, 3-3), Grandview (15, 2-4), Whitehall (8, 1-5) and West Jefferson (2, 0-6).

"In my 23 years as coach, their team (has been) a little bit stronger than ours," Seckel said. "Last year, our guys were the favorites going into the match and played well. This year, our guys are confident, but we have a lot of young guys who haven't had the opportunity to play against Academy.

"Each of us has the lineup that can beat the other. It is going to come down to who guesses right (in terms of the lineup) and which players play better that day."

The Lions won seven of their first eight matches, losing to Upper Arlington 5-0 on April 18.

Through eight matches, the team's top performers were seniors Max Schottenstein (5-2 at first doubles, 1-0 at first singles), David Seckel (2-1 at first doubles, 4-0 at second singles, 1-0 at first singles) and Matt Wareti (5-2 at first singles), junior Nathan Katz (1-1 at second singles, 5-0 at third singles) and sophomore Ethan Goodstein (1-0 at second singles, 4-0 at second doubles, 0-2 at third singles, 1-0 at first doubles).