The Newark Catholic High School baseball team has plenty of work remaining if it hopes to advance to the Division IV state tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

The Newark Catholic High School baseball team has plenty of work remaining if it hopes to advance to the Division IV state tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

"I've been fortunate to get there every year so far," senior pitcher Jimmy Lough, who has signed to play at Ohio State, said after leading the Green Wave to a 6-1 victory over Tree of Life in a district final May 16 at Don Edwards Park. "But I think we all know we have a very tough regional."

The Green Wave, which improved to 18-7 as it won a seventh district title in a row, plays Racine Southern in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at Beavers Field in Lancaster. Southern was ranked second in the final state poll led by Bascom Hopewell-Loudon, and Newark Catholic was sixth.

The other regional semifinal has Lucasville Valley, which captured a district title in Division III a year ago, playing 10th-ranked Berlin Hiland. The final is at 5 p.m. Friday, May 25, also at Beavers Field. All four regional teams were seeded first in their district.

The Green Wave, which won the last of its six state titles in 2006, has played in 12 state tournaments overall, including eight since 2002.

"It is different every year," coach John Cannizzaro said. "We've gone through (what) I'll guess we'll call adversity this year. We lost our right fielder (first-team all-district selection and leadoff batter Logan Walker to a knee injury), and Jimmy's battling an eye infection.

"(And) we've got some new people (since) last year. For some of them, this is their first district title."

Lough pitched a four-hitter in the district final, and he hit a three-run triple to spark a five-run bottom of the fifth inning as the Green Wave moved ahead 6-0.

The second-seeded Trojans, who finished 23-8, scored the first run allowed by Newark Catholic in three district games after they loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh. Lough struck out the next two hitters, but he then hit Lucas Daugherty. Still, Lough was especially efficient against the top five batters in Tree of Life's order, as they combined to go 0-for-14.

"I'll admit it, I was (wearing down)," Lough said. "I don't exactly know how many pitches I had, but it was probably over a hundred."

In the district tournament, the Green Wave also defeated Wellington 10-0 in the second round May 9 and Grove City Christian 7-0 in a semifinal May 14.

"We've got some work ahead of us, definitely," said Chayce Crouch, who had an RBI single in the fourth inning of the district final for a 1-0 lead. "We're playing Racine again (after defeating the Tornadoes 7-0 in last year's regional final) and we know they're going to be tough."

Lough said this year's team has certain advantages over last year's state semifinalist squad.

"This is not our most talented team," he said, "but I've never had a team bond together so quickly and so easily before."

Granville was Licking County's other district finalist. The fourth-seeded Blue Aces, who won the MSL-Ohio Division title, lost 2-1 in nine innings to second-seeded Jonathan Alder on May 17 at Beavers Field to finish 23-5.

*SOFTBALL -- Three area teams advanced to district finals May 19 at Pickerington Central. They included top-seeded Newark Catholic, which played second-seeded Danville in Division IV.

In Division II, MSL-Ohio champion and third-seeded Licking Valley played second-seeded Caledonia River Valley. Northridge played sixth-seeded Fairbanks in a Division III final.