An experienced Groveport Madison High School boys tennis team is excited about its potential this season.
"We only have one player in the lineup who is not a senior," senior Chris Royster said. "So we're all excited about putting together a great season. We're off to a pretty good start."
Last season, the Cruisers finished 7-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place fifth behind champion Gahanna (7-0). They are now in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Franklin Heights, New Albany and Newark.
Groveport was 3-1 overall before playing Westerville North on April 10 and was 1-0 in the league before playing Canal Winchester on April 11.
"The ultimate goal would be for us to win the league, but realistically, with New Albany in our new league, it'd be great to finish second," Royster said. "Still, it would be nice to put some pressure on (New Albany) and make them sweat."
Royster entered the week at second singles but has played some at first singles along with senior Austin Sourinha.
"I have a pretty good first serve with power and placement, but Austin is our most consistent player," Royster said. "He can rally with anyone. He trained in New Albany the past two offseasons and has shown a lot of growth. He's really good.
"We've put in a lot of work on our games and hopefully we'll both be able to qualify for (the Division I) district (tournament)."
Senior Caleb West is playing third singles for the Cruisers, who did not have any district qualifiers last season. Senior Jonathon Thomas and junior Chris Salva are playing first doubles, while senior Ryan Harder has been playing second doubles with senior Al Alemu or his brother, senior Abe Alemu.
Groveport defeated Centennial 4-1 in its season opener March 28 before losing to Pickerington Central 4-0 on March 30 as bad weather prevented the completion of the first singles match. The Cruisers then beat Central Crossing 5-0 on April 4 and Franklin Heights 5-0 in their league opener April 6.
Groveport is being guided by first-year coach Bernie Sleshi, a 2010 Groveport graduate. He replaced Cody Masters, who coached the Cruisers for two seasons.
Softball team looks
for offense to erupt
The softball team outscored its first six opponents by a combined score of 28-7 and was 5-1 overall before playing Big Walnut in its OCC-Capital opener April 10.
Groveport's original league opener April 7 against Newark was postponed because of bad weather.
"Sara (Gockenbach) has been pitching great and we've played good defense," senior catcher Jessie Rock said. "Our offense is just starting to come around, but overall it's been a pretty good start."
After beating Whitehall 12-0 in the season opener March 27, Groveport scored only seven runs over its next four games. The Cruisers beat Teays Valley 1-0 on March 28 and, after losing to Pickerington Central 6-1 on March 29, defeated Dublin Jerome 1-0 on March 30.
Groveport then beat Westerville North 4-1 on April 3 before finding its offensive rhythm again in a 9-0 win over Hartley on April 5.
Rock, who hit a program-record 15 home runs last season, had homers against Pickerington Central and Westerville North. Jodi Kern hit a grand slam against Whitehall.
The Cruisers have a league game at Canal Winchester on Thursday, April 13, before embarking on their spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They will play six games in the Grand Strand Softball Classic in Little River, South Carolina, beginning Monday, April 17, and concluding April 21.
Baseball team shows
glimpses of potential
The baseball team was 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing New Albany on April 10.
After getting swept by Lancaster 9-1 and 12-2 on March 25 to open the season, Groveport lost to Johnstown 6-1 on March 29.
The Cruisers responded by beating Franklin Heights twice in league play, 7-0 on March 31 and 18-0 on April 3. They then lost to Canal Winchester 6-5 in a league game April 5. The rematch against the Indians on April 7 was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for April 11.
"With just four senior starters, we were overwhelmed against Lancaster and lost to a good, senior-laden Johnstown club," coach David Eft said. "We got well against Franklin Heights and gained some confidence and then really battled a Canal Winchester team that swept league-favorite Big Walnut. We only allowed three hits against Canal Winchester, but we made (six) errors."
Eft said he likes the direction his young team is heading.
"We've gotten good pitching from Logan Mayes and Luis Pantoja, who is our best overall player," Eft said. "Kenny Pettay is a veteran who is off to a strong season at the plate and at shortstop. Our catcher, Kaleb Hubner, is stepping up, as is our third baseman, Zach Ullom. Les Fearing is an athlete who is getting a chance to play and getting the job done offensively and in right field, and freshman (first baseman) Robbie Morgan is going to be a special player in this program for four years."
March 28 -- at Centennial
March 30 -- at Pickerington Central
April 4 -- at Central Crossing
*April 6 -- at Franklin Heights
April 10 -- at Westerville North
*April 11 -- at Canal Winchester
*April 13 -- at New Albany
April 17 -- at Hartley
*April 18 -- at Newark
April 25 -- at Westerville Central
April 27 -- at Whitehall
*May 1 -- at Big Walnut
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison baseball, softball and track & field teams:
*April 17 -- At Newark
*April 19 -- Home vs. Newark
*April 13 -- At Canal Winchester
April 17 -- Seth (W.Va.) Sherman in Grand Strand Softball Classic at Little River, S.C.
April 18 -- Winfield (W.Va.) in Grand Strand Softball Classic
April 19 -- Ocean City (N.J.) and Canfield South Range in Grand Strand Softball Classic
TRACK & FIELD
April 15 -- Mansfield Mehock Relays
April 18 -- At Grove City