Early in the season, Groveport Madison High School softball coach Steve Cunningham toyed with his lineup.

Early in the season, Groveport Madison High School softball coach Steve Cunningham toyed with his lineup.

Some experiments worked, but moving Shelby Prince from catcher to shortstop wasn't one of them.

After an 0-4 start, Cunningham moved Prince back to catcher and the Cruisers responded by winning nine of their next 11 games, including a 3-0 win over Pickerington Central on April 19. The Tigers were ranked seventh in the Division I state poll last week.

"Shelby is one of our best athletes," said Cunningham, whose team was 9-6 before playing Grove City on April 23. "We thought that we would make our infield a little more solid (by moving her to shortstop). Her natural place is behind the plate. After we moved her back to catcher, we've been a different team attitude-wise and the way we have carried ourselves on the field."

"For me, it's easier to lead from behind the plate," Prince said. "(Playing catcher) gives me a lot more confidence. I know what I need to do and how to do it."

After returning Prince to catcher, Groveport went 4-1 on a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., placing second in its division of the Grand Strand Softball Classic. The Cruisers defeated Clarksburg (W.Va.) Robert C. Byrd 4-1 on April 9, Florence (S.C.) South Florence 3-1 on April 10, Livonia (N.Y.) 13-1 on April 11 and Conway (S.C.) Socastee 6-1 on April 12 and lost to Chesapeake (Va.) Greenbrier Christian 16-3 on April 13.

However, the Cruisers were only 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Grove City. In addition to beating Central, they defeated Lancaster 6-5 on April 16 and beat Pickerington North 9-1 on April 20.

The league has been represented in the Division I state tournament three of the last four seasons, with Gahanna and Grove City finishing as the runner-up in 2011 and 2010, respectively, and Grove City losing in a semifinal in 2008.

In the Division I area coaches poll last week, Central was second and Grove City was tied with Olentangy Orange for third.

Cunningham said the OCC-Ohio allows little margin for error. For example, in a 3-0 loss to Gahanna on April 18, a Groveport error in the bottom of the second inning led to three unearned runs for the Lions.

"It should have been a routine play and we had a mix up in coverage. That inning cost us the game," Cunningham said. "They made us pay with that one error."

"It's always going to be a tough division," Prince said. "We beat each other up regularly in the conference. One game could make the difference in the conference. But as long as we keep moving forward, we're going to be OK."

Baseball team continues to battle learning curve

Despite having three players hitting around .500, the baseball team had lost four consecutive games before playing Reynoldsburg on April 23.

Last week, Groveport lost OCC-Ohio games to Newark (6-0 on April 16), Pickerington Central (3-2 on April 18 and 16-1 in five innings on April 20) and Pickerington North (15-2 in five innings on April 19).

"Hopefully, we'll be able to get out of this funk and keep on winning," coach Richard Noble said. "I have a really good team. They're young, but they're coachable and they're learning.

"We're playing people at a lot of different positions and we're learning. We're getting better every day."

Sophomore second baseman Cody Snyder was hitting .571 through 12 games, while junior third baseman Tommy O'Diam and senior utility player Andrew Downing were both batting around .500.