The Canal Winchester High School baseball team's April 19 game against Westerville Central wasn't necessarily a must-win for the Indians, given that the season had just passed the halfway point.

The Canal Winchester High School baseball team's April 19 game against Westerville Central wasn't necessarily a must-win for the Indians, given that the season had just passed the halfway point.

But considering that the Warhawks had handed the Indians their worst loss to date, 15-5 in six innings on April 14, Canal Winchester was anxious for a chance at redemption.

And when coach Jason Vest told Luke Williamson that he would be the starting pitcher in the rematch, the junior left-hander readily accepted the challenge.

"We knew we had to get them when they came here. Coach told me that was my game, and I came in mentally prepared," Williamson said. "As long as we kept them off-balance, we'd be fine, and that's what we did. We got guys out and put runs on the board to help us win."

Canal Winchester scored four runs in the fourth inning and Williamson allowed one earned run on four hits, striking out six without a walk, as the Indians won 5-1.

That was the type of performance Vest hoped he would see from Williamson, who was 5-3 on the mound with a 2.05 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 23 walks in 47 2/3 innings during the regular season.

"It's been about a five-year conversation (to get to this point)," Vest said, laughing. "A lot of it is just maturity, figuring things out on his own.

"He has concentrated on being a pitcher more than a thrower. He has a real live arm and a nice curveball. He has done a nice job of mixing his pitches and throwing strikes instead of trying to overpower everybody, and it has worked out really well."

Seeded 10th in the Division I district tournament, Canal Winchester was 19-8 overall before playing host to 13th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round May 11. The Indians finished 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

"When Luke gets on a roll, he keeps going and going," outfielder Colin Sotlar said. "When he is hot, he'll stay hot the entire game. He has had maybe one game where he wasn't great and we still won. He just chugs. He is a great player."

Williamson prides himself on a fastball he said has reached 85 mph, but also is not afraid to rely on his curveball and changeup.

"I like my curveball, especially in a 1-2 or a 2-2 count, and lately I have been throwing it in 3-2 counts just to throw hitters off," said Williamson, who was batting .309 with 21 hits, including a home run, through 27 games. "Usually at 3-2, hitters are thinking about a dead-red fastball, and in that count, you want to get it over and get a ground ball out of it or a strikeout. Right now, my fastball and my curveball are my go-to pitches. My changeup isn't far behind. They are all working for me."

The Indians hope that continues to be the case in the postseason for their entire rotation, which also includes Ryan Glauner, Je'len Olbrantz and Sam Purdon, each of whom had four wins before May 5, according to Vest.

The second-round winner plays sixth-seeded Thomas Worthington, 24th-seeded Newark or 27th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal Monday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined. The semifinal winner likely will play fourth-seeded Gahanna, 12th-seeded Upper Arlington or 17th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final Wednesday, May 18, at Don Edwards Park in Newark.

Canal Winchester is seeking its first district championship since 2009, when it was in Division II.

"We figured we'd be a ninth or 10th seed," Vest said. "We expected to have a game we could win if we play well (in the second round). We could have gone a couple other places, but we had a chance to pick where we wanted and we are happy with where we went."

Track teams set for league meet

The track and field teams are looking to finish in the upper half of the standings in the OCC-Cardinal meet Thursday, May 12, and Saturday, May 14, at Hilliard Davidson.

Both teams finished fifth in the league meet last year.

The boys scored 85 points to finish behind Westerville Central (131), Hilliard Darby (107), Dublin Jerome (104) and Westerville South (100) and ahead of Hilliard Bradley (78), Scioto (29) and Westerville North (28), and the girls had 61 points to finish behind Scioto (141), South (123), Central (114) and Darby (94) and ahead of Bradley (47), Jerome (40) and North (40).

Scioto's girls are seeking their third consecutive OCC-Cardinal championship.

"This should be a very competitive meet," Indians girls coach Darren Avery said. "I think we can surprise a few people, but I expect a fight in every event. Hilliard Darby, Westerville South and Westerville Central have all put up impressive marks. I don't expect (Scioto) to go away peacefully."

Canal Winchester is coming off a strong outing in the Hilliard Bradley Invitational on May 6.

Lonzell Feagin won the 400 meters (48.98 seconds) and long jump (22 feet, 2 3/4 inches) and Clayton Howard won the pole vault (11-6) to lead the boys team, which finished fourth (69) of eight teams, behind champion Darby (133). The girls team finished second (90) of nine teams, behind Darby (137), as Erica Babusci won the 400 (46.57) and Arianna Coleman won the long jump (16-5).

The Indians quickly will turn their attention to the postseason after the league meet.

Canal Winchester will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet at Hilliard Darby. The meet begins with the preliminaries for the running events Tuesday, May 17, continues with field events May 19 and concludes with the finals for the running events May 21.

The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet May 25 and 27 at Pickerington North.

"Our times, heights and distances are all starting to fall into place at the right time," Avery said. "The marks that we are putting up right now suggest that we are right on pace to peak at the perfect moment."

Boys tennis team set for sectional

After a challenging regular season, the boys tennis team will turn its focus to a Division I sectional Thursday, May 12, and Saturday, May 14, at Upper Arlington.

Isaiah Chattos and Alek Ugrinov will play singles, and Zeke Blanchard and Ryan Warner will form one of the Indians' doubles teams and Connor Clark and Jacob Noel will comprise the other.

"Jacob (is) another player who has been improving through the season with really good potential. (We) will see how well (he and Cook) play," coach Jason Moisey said. "They've had a few practice rounds with other teams to get experience and they seem to play well together. I'm proud of my boys and the work they put in.

"This season has been a little rough, but the boys have made progress."

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 19 at Davidson and May 21 at UA.

Canal Winchester, which has not fielded a full lineup this season, closed the regular season with a 5-0 loss at Pickerington Central on May 5 to finish 1-15 overall.

The Indians went 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal, losing to Scioto 5-0 on May 2 in a match that had been postponed March 31 and again April 11 because of bad weather.

Softball team started tourney at home

After closing OCC-Cardinal play with a win, the softball team began the Division I district tournament May 9 at home against Thomas Worthington.

The Indians, who were 6-17 overall entering the postseason and finished 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal, were seeded 31st of 45 teams. Thomas was seeded 33rd.

The first-round winner visited eighth-seeded Mount Vernon in a second-round game May 11. The second-round winner plays 15th-seeded DeSales or 16th-seeded Pickerington Central in a district semifinal Monday, May 16, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is May 20 or 21 at Pickerington Central.

Canal Winchester did not play DeSales or Pickerington Central during the regular season.

The Indians went 1-1 in the league last week, losing to Pickerington North 4-2 on May 2 and bouncing back to beat Scioto 5-4 on May 5 in a game that began the previous day and was suspended by bad weather.