No day at the park is just another day at the park for Bailee Faulkner.

No day at the park is just another day at the park for Bailee Faulkner.

The senior not only takes her job as the Canal Winchester High School softball team's starting catcher seriously, but she almost by default is a team leader by virtue of her position, her four years as a starter and her assertive, vocal nature.

She helps pace the team in its pregame and postgame routines, and routinely directs the Indians during play depending on the situation.

"I'd take a ball in the teeth if I had to if it helps my team," said Faulkner, a third-generation catcher and Urbana University recruit. "My job behind the plate isn't just sitting there to get the strikes called for my pitcher. I also have to lead the team and talk and tell them where the next play is. I try to see everything."

Faulkner had a .464 batting average with 20 hits, including two home runs, through 15 games for the Indians, who were 4-11 overall and 3-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on April 25.

"She carries us on her back. She is the one keeping us together when we all get down," pitcher Katie Hinkle said. "Sometimes when I am out there, I get frustrated with all eyes on me, but she is the one building me back up. She pushes us. Both of us as captains, we just try to drive the team to wanting to win."

Faulkner and Hinkle's paths have crossed since "we were 8 or 9 (years old)," according to Hinkle. The two played together and as opponents on travel teams.

Faulkner was Canal Winchester's starting third baseman as a freshman, both because she was capable at that position and the Indians already had a two-year starting catcher in 2013 graduate Alexis Moore.

"That corner (third base) is hot and she handled it well," coach Randy Hinton said. "Bailee is all about having her nose in the dirt. If a ball is hit, she's down. That catcher mentality is what it is. She did a great job at third base, and I'd say she's still the best third baseman we have. But she's a great catcher, too."

A similar situation might confront Faulkner at Urbana, which this year has a sophomore starting catcher in Margo Jackson. But considering that her father, grandfather and an uncle all were catchers, there is no position Faulkner -- who is the first athlete in her family to earn a college scholarship -- would rather play.

"I just kind of followed the line," she said.

Faulkner also played basketball and volleyball in middle school, but gave up those sports when she entered high school. But she watched friends continue in those and other sports, and needing an athletic outlet before softball season, she turned to swimming and was on the Indians' swimming and diving team for four years.

"It has kept me in the best shape of my life," Faulkner said. "I am stronger. My core is better. Everything is better."

Canal Winchester hopes it can continue to say the same thing for its season. The Indians won three of five games between April 13 and 18, including a walkoff 6-4 win over Groveport on April 16 at New Albany on Chaya Duncan's three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. But the Indians fell in back-to-back games before a four-day break from games, losing to Westerville Central 8-5 on April 19 and Westerville South 8-7 on April 20.

"We've been hitting really well," Hinkle said. "At the beginning of the season, we were down a little bit there in the batter's box and now we've been more confident with each hit and each win. And our defense has really jelled. We are starting to play with each other. We talk to each other all game, every game."

Track teams prepare for Milt Will Relays

Eight schools will be represented in the track and field teams' annual Milt Will Relays on Friday, April 29.

The Indians will be joined by the boys and girls teams from Grandview, London, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Westerville North, as well as Bexley's girls and New Albany's boys.

The girls team will be looking to defend its title, as it scored 103 points in last year's meet to edge runner-up Pickerington Central (100). The boys finished third (91) behind Central (121) and Pickerington North (100).

Both Canal Winchester teams are coming off strong performances in the Elmo Kallner Invitational on April 23 at Hamilton Township.

Led by Lonzell Feagin's win in the 100 meters (11.06 seconds) and Danny Jones' win in the discus (154 feet, 8 1/2 inches), the boys finished second (79) behind Fairfield Union (119.5) as 12 teams scored. The 800 relay also won (1:33.34).

Erica Babusci won the 100 hurdles (16.42) and 300 hurdles (47.75) to lead the girls, who finished third (73) behind Fairfield Union (99) and Newark (78) as 15 teams scored. Arianna Coleman won the long jump (16-9), and the 1,600 relay also finished first (4:14.4).

"The biggest thing is that guys are competing well and working hard," boys coach Kurtis Robinson said. "A lot of young guys are trying to earn spots, or more spots, at varsity meets on the weekends. A lot of our exceptional athletes are performing at a high level already. We need to keep working hard and keep improving. We're better on the track than we are in the field. We need to develop our younger field athletes so that we can be more competitive in those areas."

Baseball team back on winning track

The baseball team righted itself last week, winning two OCC-Cardinal games and leading a third when it was suspended before a four-day break from games.

Canal Winchester was 13-5 overall and 4-4 in the league before playing Dublin Jerome on April 25. The Indians, who lost four of six games between April 13 and 18, defeated Westerville Central 5-1 on April 19 and beat Hilliard Bradley 4-1 on April 20.

Canal Winchester was leading Jerome 4-1 in the fifth inning on April 21 when the game was suspended because of darkness. It was scheduled to be completed April 25, followed by the regularly-scheduled meeting between the two teams.

Colin Sotlar's two-run single highlighted a four-run fourth inning against Central, which had run-ruled the Indians 15-5 in six innings on April 14. Luke Williamson struck out six and allowed four hits in six innings.

Against Bradley, Alex Reed had three hits and two RBI and Ryan Glauner pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts.