The Whitehall-Yearling High School softball program has tangible proof of the progress it has made under fourth-year coach Brian Anderson.

The Whitehall-Yearling High School softball program has tangible proof of the progress it has made under fourth-year coach Brian Anderson.

The Rams have secured their first 10-win season under Anderson and are guaranteed a non-losing record in the MSL-Ohio Division for the first time in his tenure.

After a 0-5 start, Whitehall was 10-11 overall and 6-4 in the league before playing Worthington Christian on May 2. The Rams lost to visiting West Jefferson 13-3 in five innings April 29.

"That was the plan, always get better as the season goes on and be playing our best ball at the end of the season when we're getting ready for the (district) tournament," Anderson said.

Anderson pointed to senior shortstop Brooklyn Rayburn as a key in the Rams' steady rise. She started at second base as a freshman before taking over at shortstop for 2013 graduate Amber Lucas in her sophomore season and has been a fixture there since.

"Going into tryouts my freshman year I was just hoping for a j.v. spot and then the day when (Anderson) put me on varsity my heart dropped," Rayburn said. "The first thing I had to do was call my mom (Kim) and tell her what happened. I was so proud. I worked so hard to get to where I am, I couldn't believe it."

Last season, Rayburn was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district in Division II after leading the Rams in batting average (.469), runs (36), doubles (7) and triples (3). She also had 21 RBI.

Rayburn again is excelling at the plate, as she had a team-best .478 batting average and had scored 30 runs through 20 games.

"Brooklyn has been a huge part of this," Anderson said. "My first year she was a freshman and she started right away.

"Since day one, she's been there by my side, been our best player and been one of our leaders. We're going to really miss that girl. She's a tremendous ballplayer, a tremendous young lady and I had a lot of fun with her the last four years."

Rayburn, who has committed to play at Ohio Dominican, credits Anderson for preparing her to play collegiately.

"Coach Anderson has been my best friend throughout my four years," Rayburn said. "He is one of the best coaches I've ever had through travel ball to middle school and I couldn't thank him enough for putting up with me for my four years."

Rayburn isn't the only member of the Rams having a strong season at the plate. Also through 20 games, Madison Stiffler was hitting .415 with three home runs and 21 RBI, and Rebecca Maxstead was batting .391 with 22 runs and 20 RBI.

In the circle, Makayla Barber was 6-6 and Elena McCann was 4-4.

The Rams closed the regular season with league games May 2 against Worthington Christian and May 4 against Madison Plains and a rescheduled game May 3 against Fairfield Christian.

Anderson, whose team has won its last two opening-round district tournament games, hopes the Rams can get past the second round for the first time in his four seasons.

Last year, Whitehall opened with a 24-1, five-inning win against Beechcroft before losing to Licking Valley 10-0 in six innings.

In 2014, the Rams defeated Independence 8-0 before losing to Licking Valley 19-0 in five innings.

"If you go by the eye test and just watch us play the last two years, we're just a so much better team than we were the first couple of years," Anderson said.

Baseball team breaks through in league

The baseball team earned its first league win, holding off host Grandview 13-11 on April 27.

The Bobcats scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Braden Barker tripled, doubled and singled and scored three runs, and Marquel Key had two hits and three RBI to lead Whitehall.

Kody West pitched the first six innings to earn the win.

"We'll take (wins) where we can get them," coach Bill Welsh said. "When we play well and play together enough to get a win we'll enjoy that for a while and then come back the next day ready to work."

Whitehall was 4-17 overall and 1-10 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Worthington Christian on May 2.

The Rams lost to visiting West Jefferson 9-5 on April 29 and defeated visiting Westland 12-11 and 11-10 in eight innings April 30.

The Rams' other win came against Centennial, 15-10 on April 16.

Through 18 games, Kody Strickland was hitting .389 and Shawn Barnes had a home run and 14 RBI.

"When we focus and play to our potential we're probably one of the toughest teams in the (MSL-Ohio)," Strickland said.

"We just have to be consistent with it."

Track teams prepare for league meet

The boys and girls track and field teams competed in the Gary Smith Invitational on April 30 at Thomas Worthington in preparation of the MSL-Ohio meet Tuesday, May 10, and May 13 at London.

The meet originally was scheduled to be held at Whitehall, but was moved because of a scheduling conflict.

Last season, the boys won the program's first MSL-Ohio title, finishing first (126 points) ahead of runner-up Grandview (125), and the girls tied Columbus Academy for fourth (84) behind champion Grandview (138).

In the Gary Smith Invitational, the boys finished 10th (22.5) of 15 teams behind champion Thomas (105) and the girls finished 11th (27) of 14 teams behind champion Dublin Coffman (102.5).

Boys tennis team plays in MSL tourney

The boys tennis team competed in the MSL-Ohio tournament April 30 at Academy.

Play was suspended during the finals because of bad weather.

The Rams lost on all five courts in the first round.