The Whitehall-Yearling High School baseball team entered the second half of the season looking to reach the .500 mark.

The Whitehall-Yearling High School baseball team entered the second half of the season looking to reach the .500 mark.

Led by four seniors, 30th-year coach Dave Hutchison believes the Rams have the potential to reach their goal.

"We want to try to get up to .500 … before the (district) tournament draw," Hutchison said. "If we can do that then it gives us a better position in the brackets. We're a decent team. Sometimes our pitchers can't get out of the first inning, or it just seems like we have one bad inning."

The Rams were 5-10 overall and 2-8 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Heath on April 23. There were five games on the schedule this week, and if they won them all, the Rams would reach .500 before the Division II district tournament draw Sunday, April 29.

The Rams will play host to Bexley on Friday, April 27, looking to avenge a 3-2 loss to the Lions on April 11.

A key senior has been middle infielder Taylor Hutchison, the coach's son, who entered the week leading the team with a .553 batting average.

Hutchison, who last season was first-team all-league and all-district, has verbally committed to play baseball at Ohio Wesleyan.

Along with his son, Hutchison said seniors Jared DeSanto (P/3B), Thomas Johnson (1B/C) and Kurtis Russell (OF/1B) have been solid leaders.

Whitehall has had five underclassmen in its starting lineup, including freshmen Cody Rayburn (SS) and Cameron Barker (3B/OF).

"I think the two freshmen are going to play very well," coach Hutchison said. "They're going to be very good ballplayers in the future. They play travel ball – they played 45 to 50 games in the summer, if not more – so they get a lot of exposure (against) a lot of good competition."

Other starters have been sophomores Cody Koons (C), Nick Wright (1B) and Cameron Dickerson-Needham (CF).

"The youth is pretty promising," said coach Hutchison, whose team began the season 3-0.

He said a reason for the team's struggles has been missed scoring opportunities.

"Our pitchers have pitched well enough to win," he said. "There's times where our offense hasn't come through with people in scoring position. That's an issue. When you leave from eight to 15 guys on base in any one given day and you can't produce at the plate then it's difficult to win when you're only scoring one or two or three runs. We have to produce more when we have guys in scoring position."

Coach: Softball team giving away games

The softball team was 5-13 overall and 1-8 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Heath on April 23.

"I'm not real happy," said coach Lisa Morelli, who is in her 12th season. "I'd like to be a .500 team, but we're not. We're giving a lot of games away with errors and walks, and then the other team hits the ball. I would say half the runs we've given up this year have been unearned."

Whitehall's league win came against Bexley 2-1 on April 11. The Rams scored two runs in the first inning and received solid pitching from junior Danielle Farnlacher.

Farnlacher's catcher is her twin, Delina Farnlacher.

Senior Kayla Persinger is the starting first baseman and bats cleanup.

Other seniors are Amber Biller (CF) and Caitlin Grubbs.

Morelli said freshmen Nicole Barber (3B) and Samantha Day (INF/OF) have been solid contributors.

Boys tennis team missing key player

The boys tennis team has been competitive, according to coach Chris Kondracke, who is in his 10th season.

The Rams will visit Granville on Thursday, April 26, in an MSL-Ohio/Cardinal match.

Kondracke also has been pleased with the turnout this season: 19 boys play on the varsity and junior varsity.

"I'm enjoying it," Kondracke said. "It's a new adventure every year. I have some good, quality kids that come out as freshmen and stay with me for four years, but every year it seems like we get one or two first-year players that are upperclassmen and wish they would have done this from early on, so it makes it fun."

Whitehall has been without junior first-singles player Seth Grassel, who suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee before the season.

"Seth worked really hard all summer," Kondracke said. "He never missed an open court and was excited. He even hit with us during the girls season, anticipating the season."

Senior Kyle Brown is at first singles.

"Kyle does what we ask him," Kondracke said. "He goes out and competes as hard as he can. Playing No. 1 singles at Whitehall can be bittersweet sometimes. It's proving that you're probably the best tennis player we have, but you're always playing against the other team's best player."

Other players have been seniors Mark Burris and Henry Shilling, juniors Huitzil Carlos, Keith Lees and Brandon Mitchell and sophomores Aaron Miller, Ethan Miller and Jiawen Zhen, whom Kondracke calls the most improved player on the team.

Before playing Grandview on April 24, Whitehall's wins came against Hartley (4-1 on April 2) and West Jefferson (4-1 on April 11).

Abduljelil leading boys track team

The track and field teams have received several solid performances, according to coach Zach Wright, who is in his 27th season.

Junior Ifa Abduljelil set what Whitehall considers the boys program record in the 110-meter hurdles with an effort of 14.68 seconds (hand-timed) in the Newark Invitational on March 31.

Murad Holliday, who graduated in 1995, held the previous mark of 14.6. He went on to play football at Kent State and is an assistant football and boys basketball coach at Gahanna.

"When they hand-hold time it, they add .24 seconds on, so he would have run a 14.44," Wright said of Abduljelil's effort.

Wright said Abduljelil also is approaching the 300 hurdles record of Sean McNally (39.3).

Abduljelil was first in the 110 hurdles (15.01) and 300 hurdles (41.51) in the Kallner Invitational on April 21 at Hamilton Township.

Other key athletes for the boys team have been senior sprinter Devon Cox and junior middle distance runner Jontey Hammock, who were both regional qualifiers last season.

Hammock was first in the 800 (2:06.29) in the Kallner Invitational.

Senior sprinter Jeremiah Crouthers also has been a solid contributor, according to Wright.

Junior sprinters Amari Price-Brown and Tashara Smith, junior hurdler Marissa Ware and sophomore sprinter Kayla Williams have led the girls team.

Other key contributors have been sophomore distance runners Iris Barajas, Ashley Hatfield, Sarah Euman and Bekah Young. The lone senior on the girls team is hurdler Michelle Conison.