The Heath High School softball team's 1-0 loss to Licking Valley on April 21 had a throwback feel to it considering how much more offensive the game seems this spring following the change in pitching distance.

The Heath High School softball team's 1-0 loss to Licking Valley on April 21 had a throwback feel to it considering how much more offensive the game seems this spring following the change in pitching distance.

"One run scored and five (combined) hits," Bulldogs coach Holly Myers said. "That's one of the few games like that we've had this year.

"Our success, and maybe for some others in the league, too, it's got to have something to do with the pitching change (moving the rubber from 40 to 43 feet). Hitting has taken a larger role in the game, no question."

Indirectly, that's the result the Ohio High School Athletic Association had in mind when it adopted the change to comply with national guidelines set by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

"What it's doing is lessening the impact of one player - the pitcher," said Roxanne Price, an assistant commissioner with the OHSAA. "That was the goal."

An examination of reported scores and published box scores from central Ohio conducted by ThisWeek reveals that home runs, double-digit scoring totals and errors are all up significantly compared with the same time period last spring. The numbers also show that pitchers are throwing far fewer shutouts. (NOTE: The story is available at ThisWeekSPORTS.com)

"In the past, there have been certain pitchers we couldn't touch," said Myers, whose team chased Lakewood ace Alyssa Patznick in the third inning of an 11-1 victory over the three-time state champions on April 8. "I think (the change) kind of evened the playing field."

The MSL-Ohio Division standings at the halfway point of the league schedules indicate as much. Through April 21, five of the eight teams remained within two games of first place in a division the Lancers have dominated since it was created in 2003-04. Lakewood and Licking Valley led the scrum at 5-2 each, but Granville was third at 4-3 while Newark Catholic was fourth at 3-3 and the Bulldogs fifth at 3-4.

"It should be an interesting second half," Myers said. "The top teams aren't going anywhere, but right now a lot of people still have a shot."

•TRACK AND FIELD - The top boys seeds, most recently updated after the April 16 meets, for the Licking County Invitational on May 4 at Utica are as follows:

Pole vault, 13 feet, 6 inches (Watkins Memorial's Cameron Johnson and Heath's Brandon Blankens); long jump, 21-2 (Watkins Memorial's Joey Rich); high jump, 6-2 (Newark's Brandon Wiley); discus, 125-7 (Utica's Levi Boggs); shot put, 47-5 (Heath's Zach Satterfield); 400-meter relay, 43.4 seconds (Watkins Memorial); 800 relay, 1:30.4 (Watkins Memorial); 1,600 relay, 3:29.1 (Newark); 3,200 relay, 8:27.2 (Newark); 110 hurdles, 16.0 (Heath's Nelson Scott); 300 hurdles, 40.26 (Nelson); 100, 11.22 (Watkins Memorial's Devonte Marable); 200, 22.85 (Watkins Memorial's Connor Sensabaugh); 400, 51.89 (Wiley); 800, 2:00.3 (Watkins Memorial's Jordan Elizondo); 1,600, 4:34.2 (Elizondo); 3,200, 10:04.87 (Watkins Memorial's Erich Vlaar).

The top girls seeds are as follows:

Pole vault, 10-6 (Watkins Memorial's Rachel Arnott); long jump, 16-5 1/2 (Licking Valley's Morgan Overbey); high jump, 4-8, (Overbey); discus, 113-4 1/2 (Heath's Katie White); shot put, 39-9 (Heath's Liz Clippinger); 400 relay, 53.9 (Heath); 800 relay, 1:52.9 (Heath); 1,600 relay, 4:22.98 (Heath); 3,200 relay, 10:30.53 (Heath); 100 hurdles, 17.38 (Heath's Kelly Roberts); 300 hurdles, 53.9 (Newark's Hannah Ayers); 100, 12.5 (Newark's Tavisha Patton); 200, 26.8 (Patton); 400, 1:01.72 (Watkins Memorial's Taylor Cook); 800, 2:23.39 (Watkins Memorial's Mara White); 1,600, 5:42.16 (Smith) 3,200, 11:28.83 (Watkins Memorial's Morgan Reichert).

Updates usually are posted by each Tuesday at www.watkins-track.org.