The Columbus Academy baseball team used a combination of solid pitching and timely hitting to clinch at least a share of the MSL-Ohio Division title, with higher expectations to follow.

The Columbus Academy baseball team used a combination of solid pitching and timely hitting to clinch at least a share of the MSL-Ohio Division title, with higher expectations to follow.

The Vikings secured the tie with a 7-4 win at London on May 2. Academy looked to clinch the outright league title with a win against Bexley on May 4.

Bexley, which entered the game 12-1 in the league, was the defending league champion.

Academy was 17-3 overall and 13-0 in the league before playing the Lions.

The Vikings defeated Grandview 6-1 in a league game April 29 and host Cardington 13-2 in five innings April 30.

"This team is a little more driven," second-year coach Todd Dunkle said, comparing this year's team to last year's. "Last year's team didn't really know what to expect from the new coach and it took us awhile to come together and jell. This year's team had some pretty good goals and was a little bit more motivated right off the bat."

The Vikings' pitching has been led by seniors Grey Harmon and Matt Watters, both of whom will play at the collegiate level.

Watters threw a no-hitter April 27 at Madison Plains, as the Vikings won 11-0 in six innings. He had nine strikeouts and four walks.

Through 17 games, Watters was 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 11 walks in 25 2/3 innings. He also was hitting .379 with seven doubles, 13 RBI and 16 runs.

Watters has committed to Stetson University, where his brother, Charlie, is a sophomore baseball player. Another brother, R.J., is a redshirt senior baseball player at Northwestern.

Harmon, who will pitch at Xavier, opened his season by throwing a perfect game with 11 strikeouts in a 16-0, five-inning win March 29 at Ready.

Harmon developed soreness in his left pitching shoulder during his next start, limiting his time on the mound this season, but he said he is recovering and will be ready for the postseason.

"Going to state has always been our dream," Harmon said. "We think we can go if Matt and I stay healthy. All we have to do is pitch strikes and I know our defense will do the work."

Through 17 games, Harmon was 4-0 and had not allowed an earned run with 38 strikeouts and three walks in 17 innings.

"It's a great advantage (having two dominant pitchers), especially going into the tournament," Watters said. "We always say two starters and everyone else usually should go in in relief. If we stay strong and everyone stays healthy, we have a good shot."

Junior Matthew Schmitz has complemented Watters and Harmon, giving Academy another solid arm as the postseason nears. He was 2-0 with a 0.36 ERA, seven strikeouts and seven walks in 19 1/3 innings.

Nick Stringer led the Vikings' offense through 17 games, batting .500 with six doubles, a home run and 13 RBI.

Jake Mitchell and Darren Bates both were hitting .407, and Bates had a team-high 15 RBI.

"This team is tremendously balanced," Dunkle said.

The Vikings have played in two consecutive Division III district finals, losing to Marion Pleasant 4-3 last season and Fredericktown 3-0 in 2014.

"Coach said we need to win a district final," Watters said. "We made it there my sophomore year and my junior year, losing both times. This year I feel like there's something different."

Girls lacrosse team eyes league title

The girls lacrosse team plays host to DeSales on Thursday, May 5, with the outright Central Independent League title on the line.

The game is a makeup from April 26.

The Vikings are 9-3 overall and 6-0 in the league. DeSales was 5-0 in the league before playing Granville on May 3.

"These kids know what needs to be done," coach Anne Horton said. "It's the league championship."

Academy is seeking its seventh consecutive league title. Last season, the Vikings went 7-0 in the league, finishing ahead of second-place DeSales (5-1-1). They defeated the Stallions 15-6 in a league contest and 9-8 in the Division II South/Central Region final on their way to winning the program's fourth state title with a 9-8 win over Chagrin Falls.

Academy defeated visiting Columbus School for Girls 12-3 on April 27 as Lily Rizk and Lottie Smith each scored four goals and goalkeeper Lawson Sadler had four saves.

"They played us tough and rough and we need to feel that," Horton said. "The girls got a little frustrated, but they did a nice job being patient on offense. Our defense did such a great job when we were down a (player). They couldn't get a shot off. That was one of the areas we've been trying to work on."

Boys lacrosse team looks to finish strong

The boys lacrosse team fell to 6-5 overall with a 13-7 loss to visiting Toledo St. Francis on April 30.

The Vikings saw their three-game winning streak end with a 13-8 loss to visiting DeSales on April 20. Otis Klingbeil scored three goals and David Barren had two.

Academy also lost at Westerville Central 10-7 on April 25 and defeated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 8-5 on April 29.

Against Anthony Wayne, Otis Klingbeil, Malcolm Klingbeil, Barren and Roman Bellisari each scored two goals and goalie Dalton Porter had nine saves.