As a three-year starting pitcher for the Bexley High School baseball team, Tommy Bruning has experienced the satisfaction of holding opponents scoreless.

As a three-year starting pitcher for the Bexley High School baseball team, Tommy Bruning has experienced the satisfaction of holding opponents scoreless.

He did it five times as a freshman and once last season.

The significance of the junior's first shutout of 2016 didn't become known to him until players huddled with coach Andrew Orlins after the 4-0 victory over Worthington Christian on April 19.

Orlins, whose team was 9-5 overall and 7-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing West Jefferson on April 25, announced that Bruning had broken the school record for career shutouts and handed him the game ball.

What was more astonishing was that the record, held by 1944 graduate George Spencer, had stood for 72 years.

"I was really shocked at how good of a pitcher he was and then how long the record stood," said Bruning, a left-hander who entered the week 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 10 strikeouts and 10 walks in 22 1/3 innings. "And since I'm a junior, I could add on to that, so that record might not be broken for a while."

Spencer, who died in September 2014, went on to pitch at Ohio State, where he also played quarterback. He signed with the New York Giants in 1948 and pitched in the major leagues for the Giants from 1950-55 and for the Detroit Tigers in 1958 and 1960.

Assistant varsity coach Brett Counts, a member of Bexley's 1998 state semifinal team and the school's athletics hall of fame, verified Spencer's record.

"I spent the last year looking up statistics on microfilm, and I know it's 100 percent correct," he said.

Bruning's five shutouts in 2014 is a school record for a season.

His only loss entering this week came against Hartley, which scored six first-inning runs in a 9-5 win April 14.

"I don't think I was mentally ready for that game," Bruning said. "I heard they had two guys going (to) Division I (college programs), so I kind of psyched myself out and built them up to be a team that they really weren't. After that first inning, I settled in and pitched my game."

The loss served as a lesson for Bruning, who believes his composure has improved this season.

"He keeps the ball low, and he doesn't worry about striking that many guys out," catcher Ryan Callahan said. "Not letting guys get big hits is one of the things he's been working on. ... Whenever he leaves (a pitch) up against a good team, they'll get a hold of it."

Bruning leads a staff that had a team ERA of 2.26 through 14 games.

Hank Snowden (2-2, 2.13 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 23 innings) and Callahan (2-1, 2.50 ERA, 11 strikeouts, 14 innings) are the other top starters in the Lions' rotation. Eric Callahan, with two saves and a 1.23 ERA in 5 2/3 innings, has been the top reliever.

"Our pitching has been really good from Tommy all the way down," Orlins said.

Softball team ready for Woodford's return

Coach Rick Wemlinger thought the softball team could make a run at a 15-win season.

That was before the loss of his top two pitchers to injuries.

Lauren Woodford, who was injured in early April, was expected to return this week. Grace Hunley, who had taken over starting duties, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

"We've never been through something like this," said Wemlinger, whose team was 4-8 overall and 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio before playing league-leader West Jefferson in back-to-back games April 25 and 26. "It's just so discouraging for the kids and for me."

Catcher Renata Russo was hitting a team-best .385.

Girls track relays earn top finishes

Four girls track and field relays earned top-five finishes in the Elmo Kallner Invitational on April 23 at Hamilton Township.

The 3,200-meter relay of Kayla Steinke, Claire Flora, Veronica Mendivil and Abbie Sapp was second (10 minutes, 39.4 seconds), and third-place finishes went to the 400 relay (51.4) of LeAnna Leggett, Lindsay Berndt, Tyler Mansfield and Charnae Williams and the 800 relay (1:52.12) of Berndt, Margaux Harding, Mansfield and Williams. The 1,600 relay of Maggie Bunker, Berndt, Mansfield and Sapp was fourth (4:25.17).

Molly Fagin was among the top three finishers in the 1,600 (second, 5:30.15) and 3,200 (third, 11:54.5) as the girls team finished sixth (58 points) of 15 teams behind champion Fairfield Union (99).

The boys team took ninth (37) of 12 teams behind first-place Fairfield Union (119.5).

Peter Hayden was runner up in the 1,600 (4:36.15) and Elijah Fabyan was second in the high jump (5 feet, 10 inches).

Wade Randle also was a top finisher in the field events, taking third in the shot put (44-10 3/4).

The 3,200 relay of Robert Myers, Nicholas Hall, Grant Halliday and Andrew Rogers was third (8:36.97).