Steve Smith had been waiting for his Johnstown-Monroe High School softball team to jell, and the first-year coach started to see it happen last week.

Steve Smith had been waiting for his Johnstown-Monroe High School softball team to jell, and the first-year coach started to see it happen last week.

The Johnnies lost to MBC-leading Northridge 3-2 on April 16 but defeated Utica 5-3 a day later to improve to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the league before playing Danville on April 20.

"That's as good of a softball team I've seen here since 2008, and we had a lot of players who were playing out of position," Smith, a former assistant with the program, said of the Johnnies' performance against Utica. "We hit the ball, we didn't have any errors, we ran the bases well and we did it without (pitcher) Carly (Pickard), who will be gone until Tuesday (April 24) because of an out-of-state death in her family."

Stepping into the circle was Kimmy Meyers, who shook off a rough first inning to get the win. She threw a five-hitter and struck out three.

"That was the best game that I've seen Kimmy pitch from beginning to end," Smith said. "She gave up three runs in the first inning, but she traditionally starts slow. After that she was lights out for us."

Megan Yanczura tripled and singled, and Natalie Carpenter doubled and singled.

"Megan Yanczura just keeps hitting for us, and getting triples," Smith said. "She has five or six triples so far this season."

Smith said the performance was "180 degrees" different from the previous day against Northridge. Problems with defense and baserunning might have cost the Johnnies a chance to beat the Vikings, he said.

"Northridge is a good team and they deserved to win, but when we talked in the outfield after the game, the girls all thought we let one get away," Smith said. "The good thing is we seemed to have learned something from that and played well the next day. They played with a sense of urgency"

Yanczura doubled against the Vikings and Pickard took the loss.

Johnstown also has been without outfielder Keymell Cartwright. She injured an ankle sliding into third base during a 14-3, five-inning win over Fredericktown on April 10.

"We're not going to push the issue because we want Keymell to be 100 percent when she gets back," Smith said. "She's out of her (walking) boot now, but she has a chance to play at the next level and we don't want to mess around. We want her to be healthy for the postseason."

•The baseball team rallied to tie Northridge in the seventh, but the visiting Johnnies lost 5-4 in nine innings in an MBC game April 16.

Hunter Cecil pulled Johnstown within a run with an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harley O'Flaherty to tie the game at 4.

Cecil also pitched a complete game.

"Hunter pitched an outstanding game for us and had great control, walking only two," said coach Tony Cleveland, whose team was 2-11 overall and 0-7 in the MBC before playing Danville on April 19. "He's 0-4 this season, but has pitched well enough to be 4-0. He had an outstanding game."

Taylor Baughman and Matt Smith each doubled and singled.

"We hit the ball well, but we just couldn't get the one big hit when we needed it," Cleveland said. "We battled, but just couldn't push that extra run across."

Smith hit a two-run home run and Josh Kirkpatrick earned the victory as the Johnnies defeated Parma Heights Holy Name 4-3 on April 14.