The Licking Heights High School baseball team played its final game under longtime coach Jeff Boyer on May 13 when the Hornets faced visiting Whetstone.

The Licking Heights High School baseball team played its final game under longtime coach Jeff Boyer on May 13 when the Hornets faced visiting Whetstone.

"I've always believed in the saying that it's better to leave one year too early than one year too late; I just don't want to hang on," Boyer said after the Hornets lost at 15th-seeded Big Walnut 10-0 in six innings in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 11. "I retired from teaching last year and only worked part time (at Licking Heights) this year."

Boyer, who spent 37 years in the program and the last 36 as head coach, also is an assistant coach with the football program.

"When I started, being head coach in one sport and an assistant in another was doable," he said. "But I think a head coach these days has to be committed and dedicated to only one sport. I think you can be an assistant in both, but I'm also turning 60 this summer and I've got two granddaughters and my children that I need to spend more time with."

Boyer, who was a 2013 inductee into the Central District Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, had a career record of 410-394 entering the season finale. His teams won league titles in 1981, 1989, 2011 and 2012.

"I'm the ultimate .500 coach," he said. "My biggest regret is not winning more and taking the program to a new level. This was our third year in Division I and we won our first-round games all three years and lost the second-round game all three years. But I feel good about where the program is now. This was the first year I've had three assistants and things went smoothly."

Boyer said he's known all season this would be his last leading the program, but he didn't previously share his decision.

"This was a perfect time to step down because we have nine seniors who love the game and all nine brought something to the table, whether they were starters or barley played," he said. "I plan on being around some next year, so I'm not going to disappear. I'm still coaching football.

"I'd just like to say that Licking Heights has been awful, awful good to me. I've had nothing but great relationships with everyone here and I had a chance to help mold young men. I'm thankful for that opportunity."

Against Big Walnut, Tim Sanford's single was Licking Heights' only hit off Henry von Hollen. The Golden Eagles scored twice in the second and took a 4-0 lead in the fourth.

"We ran into a buzz saw," said Boyer, whose team was seeded 33rd. "They were the best team we've played all season. I don't like being run-ruled because there is such a stigma attached to that. It was the first time all season we got run-ruled and it was the second time we were shut out.

"We were in the game, but didn't make plays. After they took a 4-0 lead, they were in charge. They made it 6-0 in the fifth and then scored four to end it in the sixth."

The Hornets were 13-10 before playing Whetstone. They advanced to the second round by winning at 29th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley 7-1 in the first round May 9.

Gabe Caldwell pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and three walks. Cameron Malicoate had a pair of hits, and Killian Brewer had a hit and drove in a run.

Licking Heights had eight hits and also took advantage of four errors.

"We played our best ball of the season late," Boyer said. "Beating Reynoldsburg (5-0 on May 7) and Tri-Valley had us feeling good about where we were before Big Walnut, but we didn't make some plays we've been making and we didn't get the offensive production we've had for the past two or three weeks."

Softball team falls, finishes 12-13

The softball team couldn't take advantage of a hot start in its Division I district tournament opener against 29th-seeded Newark on May 9 at home and lost 7-2 to finish 12-13.

The 21st-seeded Hornets had five hits in the first three innings, including a double by Cearra Smith and an RBI single by Abi Pack, but they stranded four runners. Newark did not have a hit through three innings off Jessica Gunter.

The Hornets had just two hits in the last four innings.

Newark tied the game at 1 in the fourth and scored three times in the fifth. Although Licking Heights pulled to within 4-2 entering the sixth, the Hornets couldn't find enough offense to catch up and the Wildcats added three runs in the seventh.

Smith, who missed several games with a concussion but returned late in the season, added a triple to finish with two of the team's seven hits. Pack had three singles and Katie Palombaro had a pair of hits.

Track teams ready for district

The boys and girls track and field teams will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet this week at Hilliard Darby, with running preliminaries Tuesday, May 17, followed by field events Thursday, May 19, and running finals Saturday, May 21.

The top four finishers in each event qualify for the regional May 25 and 27 at Pickerington North.

Both teams competed in the LCL-Buckeye meet May 12 at Watkins Memorial, with the girls finishing third (54) behind Granville (146) and Watkins Memorial (95) and ahead of Licking Valley (49) and Lakewood (9).

The 1,600-meter relay of Saalihah Mumin, Chan'lier Myers, Kassie Sanidad and Kelsey Strange won in 4 minutes, 7.89 seconds, and Myers was runner-up in the 100 (12.39) and 200 (25.75).

Also placing second were Strange in the 800 (2:23.03), Milan Rankins in the 100 hurdles (15.86) and Mykala Suggs in the 300 hurdles (48.03).

The boys finished fifth (39) behind Watkins Memorial (160), Granville (63), Licking Valley (62) and Lakewood (45).

Jaylen Stokes won the discus in a league-record 146 feet, 2 inches. Ja'lan Walker was second in the shot put (44-1 3/4) and the 400 relay of John Bryant, Spencer Schell, Nathaniel Amoah and Daniel Goins was second (45.44).

Boys volleyball team opens postseason

The boys volleyball team is seeded last of nine teams in the Division II East Region tournament.

The Hornets played seventh-seeded North Union in a play-in match May 13, and the winner played at second-seeded DeSales in a regional quarterfinal the following day. That winner will play fourth-seeded Mount Vernon or sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 17, at Dublin Scioto.

The regional final is Friday, May 20 at Westerville Central. The likely opponent would be top-seeded Scioto.