The Hilliard Darby High School softball team has quieted any concerns about its legitimacy as one of the area's best.
The Panthers went 4-1 in a five-game stretch that included games against Gahanna (2-1 win April 14), Westland (6-3 win April 16), Grove City (4-3 win April 17), Upper Arlington (4-1 loss last Friday) and Watterson (7-0 win last Saturday).
"We are really happy and it's exciting to be successful," left-fielder Megan Lane said. "We have great team chemistry and I think we can be tremendous as long as we stay focused."
Things started with the thrilling decision over Gahanna, last year's OCC-Ohio Division champion. Two days later, the Panthers came from behind against Westland. Up next was Grove City, led by ace Paige Myers. She gave up just one walk -- to Hiedi Graessle -- heading into the final inning before walking Graessle again. Katie Davis followed with a double and Lane then hit a single, scoring Graessle and Davis to cut the deficit to 3-2. Kellie Roudabush then drove in Lane with a triple to tie it and scored the winning run on an errant throw.
"I think it gave us a lot of confidence and showed we can compete with good teams," Lane said. "It helped us focus and know where we are in the standings."
There were no heroics against UA, however.
"I think we were on emotional high," Lane said. "I think it's a great lesson we learned and it helped us to really focus on every game."
After winning the first game of a scheduled doubleheader against Watterson last Saturday, the Panthers took a 5-0 lead early in the second game before bad weather forced that contest to be canceled.
"(Going 4-1 during that stretch) showed the kids we are able to compete," coach Kevin Moody said. "Now we have to work on consistency. We have to expect great things and putting more than one great game together."
Offensively, the Panthers have a potent lineup led by Graessle (.400 average). Others batting better than .300 include Davis (.378), Roudabush (.310) and Lane (.302).
Through 12 games, Roudabush was 5-1 with 69 strikeouts in 60 innings and had an ERA of 0.82 and Liz Towery was 5-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 innings.
"I think they can stack up against anybody in the state," Moody said. "I honestly believe that. I look at the fielding, pitching, hitting and knowledge of the game and I'm comfortable to play with anybody and beat anybody."
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Darby softball team:
*April 14 -- Defeated Gahanna 2-1 in 12 innings
*April 16 -- Def. Westland 6-3
April 17 -- Def. Grove City 4-3
Last Friday -- Lost to Upper Arlington 4-1
Last Saturday -- Def. Watterson 7-0
*Last Monday -- Def. Groveport 3-1
Last Tuesday -- Played Westerville Central
*Last Wednesday╩-- Played Newark
Saturday -- At Centennial Stellar Classic at Beekman Park. Darby will play Brookville and Millersport.
*Monday -- At Lancaster
Tuesday -- At Westerville South
*Wednesday -- Home vs. Gahanna
Of note: The Panthers were 11-2 overall before last Tuesday and 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.