Although Olentangy appears to be the team to beat in the OCC-Cardinal Division, the Marysville High School baseball team enters the week looking to move up in the standings.

Although Olentangy appears to be the team to beat in the OCC-Cardinal Division, the Marysville High School baseball team enters the week looking to move up in the standings.

After losing three of its first four league games, the Monarchs beat Westerville Central 5-4 on April 13 and 8-6 on April 15 to improve its division record to 3-3.

Marysville remained at .500 in the division after splitting two games with Westerville South. The Wildcats scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Monarchs 7-6 on April 18.

Marysville beat South 8-2 on April 21.

"We're a good team this year and everybody knows it, but we just haven't really been playing to our optimal abilities," senior Jay Sperry said. "No one has really. We just have to get more concentrated on the games. We're like a really relaxed team and that's normally a good thing. We're not uptight. We just need to buckle down and once we buckle down, we're going to start doing really good."

Before April 22, Marysville (4-4) was third in the OCC-Cardinal, behind first-place Olentangy (8-0).

Olentangy defeated Marys-ville 13-3 on April 8 and 10-0 on April 14, both in five innings.

"The second game we played Olentangy, they scored eight unearned runs in the first inning," coach John Carder said. "We didn't play very well against them either time, but you have to give the credit to Olentangy. They did the things that they needed to do win the games. They're a pretty solid ball club."

The Braves are ranked second in the Division II state poll, behind Steubenville.

Like most spring sports programs in the area, weather has played havoc with Marysville's schedule.

"This has been one of the wettest and craziest springs that I think I've seen in a long, long time," Carder said.

However, unlike most baseball teams, the Monarchs have been able to move practice indoors to their hitting facility adjacent to the field. The building features batting cages and artificial turf.

"It gets tough sometimes when you're stuck back inside," Carder said. "We're fortunate enough to have a hitting building off of our field that our guys can go in and hit. We're not really stuck back in a gymnasium, but we still want to be outside when we can. You can't really control the weather, so we deal with it the best we can. We have some pretty good seniors that take a lot of guys under their wing and work hard on days like this."

Carder entered the season expecting solid hitting, but he considered the pitching staff to be a question mark, and it remains a concern.

"We're hitting OK, but overall our pitching when we went into the season was a concern of mine and is still a concern," Carder said. "We have to be more consistent throwing strikes. Right now we're putting guys on base too much and we're walking them and hitting batters. We have to clean it up a little bit if we want to turn it around and make a little bit better run."

Through April 20, Kyle Nelson led the team in hitting with a .585 average (based on 30 at-bats) followed by Zach LaRoche (.368), Nate Hodnichak (.349) and Sperry (.314).

Ethan Wirtz had two home runs.

On the mound, Matt Brown was 3-0 with a 3.69 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 14 walks. Jake Tharp was 2-0 with a 4.47 ERA, eight strikeouts and six walks.

Marysville plays league games against Dublin Jerome on Monday, April 25, at home and Wednesday, April 27, at Jerome.

The teams split two games last season, with Jerome winning 5-4 and Marysville avenging the loss 5-3.

"I know Jerome lost some guys from last year, but they have some guys back," Carder said. "I don't think they started off super great this year, so they're trying to find their edge and get themselves ready for the tournament like we are. I expect battles with them. We've battled with them before. Every game with them seems to be down to the wire. It's always good competition, so we need to be on our game."