The Delaware Hayes High School softball team will be out to prove a point when the second round of OCC-Capital Division play begins Monday, April 25, at Mount Vernon.

The Delaware Hayes High School softball team will be out to prove a point when the second round of OCC-Capital Division play begins Monday, April 25, at Mount Vernon.

The Pacers completed the first round 7-0 by beating Olentangy Orange 3-1 on April 18. The second round was scheduled to begin April 20 against visiting Franklin Heights, but the game was rescheduled for Tuesday, April 26, because of bad weather.

"Other coaches and teams doubt us because they know we're young," senior shortstop Cindy Bowman said. "They didn't think we'd be near the top of the OCC this year, so we've shown them different. But now everyone knows what to expect and they know we're on top. Most teams get better in the second half of the season and we've got a target on our backs. So we want to prove them wrong again."

Bowman and fellow seniors Kalene Schmidt (CF), Tia Hinten (1B/P) and Carly Shaw (LF) have helped guide a group of five freshmen, four of whom start regularly. All five start in some games, depending on who is pitching.

"They are a talented group and all of them play keys roles on offense and defense," Bowman said. "Kayla Cooper pitches and hits fourth, and Kaitlyn Woerner catches and bats second. Chandler Fields is our extra hitter and bats third, and Rebekah Hire bats ninth. She's a second leadoff hitter and she started at second base but has moved to right field. Lindsay Blair plays first base when Tia pitches.

"As seniors, we knew they had to fill those roles. We've just tried to pull the team together through dinners, cookouts and just hanging out with all of them. We tried to keep them positive when they've made mistakes and just showed them the ropes, I guess."

Schmidt said she takes her leadership role seriously and sees similarities between her roles as leadoff batter and team leader.

"My job at leadoff is to set the tone for the team by getting on base or at least putting the ball in play hard somewhere," she said. "The one thing I don't want to do is strikeout or look overmatched. I have to show them my confidence. I want them to say, 'Here we go. We can do this.'

"That's the same confidence we have to have as leaders. 'Follow us; we've got this.'"

Through 13 games, Schmidt led the team in batting average (.578) and stolen bases (17-for-17) and had scored 14 runs. Bowman was hitting .405 with 13 runs and was 12-for-12 in stolen bases.

Hinten (.436) and Shaw (.425, 10 runs, 11 RBI) also were batting well for the Pacers, who were hitting .418 as a team with stolen 42 bases. They had outscored opponents 93-26 through 13 games.

As for the freshmen, Cooper was hitting .500 and led the team in runs (16) and RBI (16). Woerner was at .432 with 13 runs and 10 RBI, Hire was at .414 with 12 RBI and Fields was at .400 with 10 RBI. Blair had not batted.

Sophomore Alaina Manor, who starts at third base, was hitting .257.

"Cindy and Kalene have been spectacular, as have all our seniors," coach Mark Thomas said. "They have done everything they can to help take this program forward. I know that all of the girls on this team get along and are friends away from softball and that's a good indicator of the way they've handled things despite the three or four years of difference in their ages."

•The boys tennis team appears to be on a similar pace as last season in the OCC-Capital, but hopes to finish higher this year.

The Pacers are 3-1 in league duals and have accumulated 19 points, but they have not played league powerhouse New Albany or a strong Olentangy Orange team. Delaware also has a league match remaining against Hilliard Bradley.

Last season, Delaware finished fifth with 35 points after going 4-3 in league duals and having a rough league tournament. New Albany (71) won the title and Big Walnut (45) was second. The Pacers were edged by Orange (38) and Mount Vernon (37) for third and fourth place. Bradley (17), Watkins Memorial (12) and Franklin Heights (1) rounded out the standings.

"New Albany and Orange without question are the top two teams, with us and Big Walnut real close in a battle for third place," coach Dan Morrison said. "I think we might be slightly ahead of last year's pace in terms of points, but we could end up with the same record as last year."

Senior Chris Leyva has played well in his first season at first singles. He was 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the league through seven matches.

"Chris has been as solid as a rock in his play and composure," said Morrison, whose team's lone league loss was to Big Walnut 3-2 on April 14. "He's getting more consistent in the backcourt, but his serve still holds him back some at No. 1. But he sticks his nose in there and has handled the pressure that comes with playing No. 1.

Also playing well is junior Nick Tanuredjo, who was 5-1 in singles, including 4-0 in league play.

"Nick's only loss at singles was to a real tough kid (Kirushanth Ravinran) from Dublin Scioto when I moved him up a spot to No. 2," Morrison said. "Nick is extremely talented and has the best first serve on the team. He also plays a heavy ball. It comes in like a ton of bricks. He's very fun to watch."

•The boys volleyball team may have turned its season around, winning four matches from April 15-19.

The key victory of the four was a 20-25, 22-25, 25-15, 28-26, 15-4 decision over Pickerington Central on April 19, giving the Pacers their first OCC-Capital win in six league matches.

"It got us to .500 (overall) and gave us our first OCC win," coach Eric Whittaker said. "More importantly, it was the first time this season that we fell behind early and climbed back. Our mentality had been that if we fall behind, we're done. I think the boys are starting to realize that they are more talented than their record shows."

The winning streak, which also included victories over Gahanna Christian and host Thomas Worthington in a tri-meet April 16, came on the heels of a four-match skid.

"We're getting more comfortable with the offense," Whittaker said. "Our 6-8 middle hitter Alex Carpenter has been a beast in the front row and he's becoming a smarter hitter by placing his shots with power and missing the blockers. He's also stepping up in the back row. Josh Trippier has our best hitting percentage and is stepping out of his shell, plus Jamey Hackett is a dominant hitter outside despite being 5-6. He's just a great athlete and so very quick.

"(Setter) Chris Hemans is getting more mature and his court awareness is really improving. He's identifying the double blockers and running the offense away from it and doing it with ease. He's smart and passionate about the game."