At 5–foot–11 and 160 pounds, Marysville High School pitcher Jake Tharp doesn't look overpowering.

At 5–foot–11 and 160 pounds, Marysville High School pitcher Jake Tharp doesn't look overpowering.

According to baseball coach John Carder, the left–hander's fastball doesn't reach 80 mph.

However, what Tharp lacks in appearance and velocity, he makes up for with determination.

"He's crafty," Carder said. "He doesn't throw real hard, but he has good control.

"He's not going to pop any radar guns or anything like that, but in terms for us, he gets the job done and that's what's important for us."

Those traits have helped Tharp lead the Monarchs back into the OCC–Cardinal Division title chase. They moved ahead of Dublin Jerome by sweeping the Celtics, winning 7–6 on April 23 at Jerome and 13–1 in five innings April 25 at home.

Tharp earned the save at Jerome and threw a complete game in the rematch.

At Jerome, freshman Aron Mowery went the first six innings and allowed eight hits to get the win. Tharp pitched a scoreless seventh. In the rematch, Tharp allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Marysville was on a six–game winning streak in league play before facing Westerville North on April 27. The Monarchs and Olentangy were tied for first at 6–3.

"We were young starting out," Carder said. "We're starting to find ourselves and just starting to believe and know what it takes to win at the varsity level. We're starting to see some results."

Tharp has enjoyed success this season despite fracturing the front wall of his sinus cavity after being hit by a pitch during a scrimmage against London on March 17.

Upon his doctor's instructions, Tharp has pitched while wearing a faceguard.

"I think early on it took him awhile to get adjusted to the mask," Carder said.

Before April 27, Tharp was 3–2 with two saves.

He had a 3.25 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks in 32 1/3 innings.

"When I'm doing my best, I feel like I can beat any team," he said. "I'll do whatever the team needs.

"Tharp could be considered a late bloomer. He is in his second season on varsity.

"He came up about a quarter of a way through last season and was a nice surprise for us," Carder said. "We looked for him to be the No. 1 again this year and he has stepped up."

Tharp plans to attend Mount Vernon Nazarene University, where he hopes to be a walk–on for the baseball team.

"I'm going to definitely try out (there) and see what happens," Tharp said.

The Monarchs' recent success should help them earn a more favorable seed when the Division I district tournament pairings are determined Sunday, April 29.

The tournament begins May 7.

"We've been playing a lot better baseball lately," Carder said. "We're starting to hit the baseball a little bit better and we're doing a good job all the way around."

Softball team still in league race

The softball team was looking to keep its OCC–Cardinal title hopes alive when it played Westerville South on April 27.

The Monarchs improved to 7–3 in the league by defeating Westerville Central 5–1 on April 25, avenging a 9–5 loss to the Warhawks on April 9.

Riley Nelson had the key hit: a bases–loaded, two–out triple in the fifth inning.

Coach Jennifer Segner–Maxwell pointed to a strong defensive effort by right fielder Laciee Broderick as another key in the victory.

Before April 27, Marysville and Westerville North were tied for second in the league behind Olentangy Liberty (8–1).

Marysville rallied from a 4–0, first–inning deficit against Olentangy for a 9–7 win April 23.

Olivia Kriel homered, doubled, singled and drove in three runs. Kasie Sepeda added a double, single and RBI.

"We did not go into that game with our 'A' game," Segner–Maxwell said. "To be consistently successful you have to have pitching, defense and offense running on all cylinders. We didn't have that (April 23), but we were able to outhit and outscore a hot– hitting Olentangy team. Against Westerville Central, we had our defense, offense and pitching running on all cylinders. I am pleased with how we are playing right now."

Track teams getting ready for North

The track and field teams will visit Westerville North on Thursday, May 3.

On April 24, the boys team finished second (65.5) behind Fairbanks (68.5) and ahead of Marion Harding (37).

"Dereck Fleury has stepped up in the throwing events, especially in the shot put," coach Jim Gannon said. "He has thrown over 50 feet.

"Also, two young sprinters (Jesse Ramirez and Nick Williams) have done an outstanding job."

The girls team finished first (78) ahead of Marion Harding (46) and Fairbanks (42).