During a rough stretch before the Division I district tournament, Gahanna Lincoln High School softball coach Jim Campolo never questioned his team's effort or desire to defend its district championship.

During a rough stretch before the Division I district tournament, Gahanna Lincoln High School softball coach Jim Campolo never questioned his team's effort or desire to defend its district championship.

He got further proof of their commitment to winning when all of his key players attended an optional hitting drill at 7 a.m. May 21 on the morning of a district title game against eighth-seeded Delaware.

The second-seeded Lions looked ready from the onset of the game offensively, building a six-run lead on the way to a 7-6 win at Pickerington Central that sent them to the regional tournament for the fifth time since 2003.

During a 10-0, five-inning win over Upper Arlington in a district semifinal that began May 19 and was completed May 20 at Pickerington North, Gahanna got two runs in the first inning and three in the second.

"Our kids haven't quit," Campolo said. "We jumped out on Arlington and came out and jumped on (Delaware). They prepared and they were ready. If someone's going to the regional, they usually have to go through us to get there."

Gahanna, which improved to 17-10 with the win over Delaware, played Copley or Wadsworth in a regional semifinal May 25 at Ohio State. The winner plays Central Crossing, the top seed in the district, or Teays Valley in a regional final at noon Saturday, May 28, at Ohio State.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 3 at Akron Firestone. The state final is June 4 at the same site.

Central Crossing edged Dresden Tri-Valley 2-1 in a district final on May 21 to earn its first district championship and improve to 24-2. Allissa Turkovich hit a solo home run in the fifth inning in support of pitcher Savannah Dorsey.

Seeded 10th in the district, Teays Valley beat OCC-Ohio Division champion Groveport 2-0 in a district final to improve to 21-6. Cammi Prantl drove in the winning run off Emma Johnson in the 10th inning in support of pitcher Kristin Gill. Groveport was the third seed.

"Getting to play at Ohio State for a lot of these girls is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Campolo said.

Senior pitcher Brandis Fishel was at the center of the action in the district final.

The Lions took advantage of a pair of errors by Delaware and got a bloop single to right field for an RBI by Fishel on the way to building a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

Then in the second, Montana Fishel and Tanya Busby scored on a two-run double to deep right by Brandis Fishel to make it 6-0.

Delaware made it 6-1 in the third when Chandler Fields hit a solo home run to left-center off Brandis Fishel. Then in the fourth, Fishel hit the first two batters and allowed both to score as Delaware cut its deficit to 6-3.

The Lions got their final run in the fourth. Busby reached on an infield slap hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tiyona Marshall. Brandis Fishel then singled to center to drive in Busby for a 7-3 lead. Delaware made it 7-4 in the fifth when Cindy Bowman singled and scored on a triple to right by Makayla Cooper.

After retiring the Pacers in order in the sixth, Brandis Fishel hit Kalene Schmidt to open the seventh and allowed an RBI double to Kaitlyn Woerner. Bowman grounded out, but Cooper doubled off the fence in right-center to cut it to 7-6.

However, Brandis Fishel struck out the final two batters looking to end the game.

Gahanna, which lost to Delaware 1-0 in a 2005 district final, has advanced to regional for the third time in four seasons.

"We believed we could do it, and it feels good," Brandis Fishel said. "I didn't feel like I had much control. I feel awful when I hit people. The last couple innings I started setting up outside and the whole game was set up for those two outs (to end the game)."

Gahanna committed no errors against UA or Delaware despite recently making changes on defense. Marshall, who has been played center field most of the last two seasons, was switched to third base for the tournament, with Morgan Sheets moving from third to left field and Montana Fishel moving from left to center.

"It feels really good, especially with us losing seven seniors from last year," shortstop Sarah Seidel said. "Our whole infield is new, but we have really good chemistry. (Marshall and I) have played together before and I have confidence in her to get the job done."