Olentangy High School boys lacrosse coach Zach Peterson places a high amount of trust in his players, one reason being that he doesn't want to tip his hand during in-game situations.

One example came early in the season, during an 18-2 win at Thomas Worthington on March 31.

"We went in with a certain plan and a certain offense, and the kids made the decision to flip our offense based on what we saw out of them defensively," Peterson said. "Our guys have that freedom. Our coaching staff leads and guides, and we implement certain principles, but we let the guys collaborate and problem-solve for themselves.

"If we're echoing a call in from the sideline, from the coach to a player to the guys on the field, we're broadcasting that we're changing the plays. This way, the other coach won't know until he sees on the field that we're changing what we're doing.

"It's paid off for us before, and I am sure it will again. We trust our guys."

Such an approach led to five wins for Olentangy through its first eight games. Those wins came by a combined 82-16 score, and the Braves' losses all were close -- 11-9 at Dublin Jerome on March 25, 8-7 at Mason in double overtime April 8, and 9-7 at Orange in OCC-Buckeye Division play April 13.

Olentangy was 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the league before playing New Albany on April 18.

Cam Kennedy had three goals against Orange, a game that was tied at 1, 2 and 3 before the Pioneers scored the final two goals of the first half and led by at least two goals for most of the second half.

Kennedy and Patrick Grubb scored in the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds to get Olentangy within 9-7, and despite an unsportsmanlike conduct on the Pioneers the Braves could not punch anything else across.

Grubb and Kennedy have been among the leaders of a balanced offense that also has featured Riley Bruening, Cole Gordon, Shane Hershiser and Kyle Milliron.

Peterson said he has started Hershiser and Kennedy in opposite midfield lines to sustain production.

"Shane has a different skill set than Cam, and vice versa," Peterson said. "I like how Kyle Milliron is growing on attack. He is an advanced thinker. He reads and reacts very well."

Grubb had five goals in a 15-4 league win over Westerville Central on April 11. Gordon had three and Sam Monastra added two.

"The nice thing about lacrosse is everybody makes the playoffs, and we always tell the guys we are playing for (the postseason)," Peterson said. "We want to win our league, and there is still a chance we could do that, but the ultimate goal is to be firing on all cylinders during the tournament.

"Does dropping a rivalry game like we did (to Orange) hurt? Yes, but we won't let it derail us. We had a great practice the next day. We'll use it as motivation to get better."

Baseball team facing
key league stretch

The baseball team's road to a 6-1 start in OCC-Buckeye play has featured its share of bumps, but Olentangy found itself alone in first place in the league after edging Orange 1-0 on April 17 in the first game of a home-and-home against the Pioneers.

The Braves went 5-0 last week and came from behind in each of the first four victories, three of which were in league play.

Olentangy defeated Westerville Central by 5-3 scores April 10 and 12, the latter win coming in eight innings. The Braves defeated Westerville North 3-2 on April 13 on Sam Nourse's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, and they scored four runs in the fourth April 14 against Pickerington Central to erase a 3-1 deficit and win 5-3.

"The big thing I've noticed is these guys really trust their teammates, especially when we're down in a game," coach Ryan Lucas said. "They all get along and nobody cares who gets the job done. There is no jealousy. We have a number of guys whose biggest job is to pinch-hit or pinch-run, and they embrace that role. You need that kind of selflessness."

Olentangy was 12-2 overall before playing Orange on April 19.

That was the second of six consecutive league games for Olentangy, which is seeking its third consecutive league championship.

In the April 17 game, Cameron Kaiser threw a two-hitter to power the Braves. Jake McIntyre's sacrifice groundout in the second scored Logan Ketron with the game's only run.

"Our No. 1 goal is always to win the league championship. We haven't even talked about the tournament yet," Lucas said.

"It's a journey every single day. This year, with all the league teams playing each other three times, we've broken up the season into segments concentrating on who we're playing that week. If we win the league title or get close, we should get a pretty good seed in the tournament. Things take care of themselves when you win games."

Softball team off to
fast start in league

The softball team began OCC-Buckeye play with two dominant wins last week, defeating Westerville South 7-0 on April 12 and Westerville North 8-4 on April 13, but lost 8-0 to Westerville Central on April 17.

Sophie Low tossed a two-hitter against South, and against North Kirsten Kracht led the Braves with three hits and two RBI.

The loss to the Warhawks dropped the Braves back to .500 overall at 5-5 before they played Watterson on April 18.

Athletes announce
college destinations

Seventeen Olentangy student-athletes announced their college destinations April 12.

Madeline Barnes will participate in track and field at Cedarville, Mattee Bonanno will be in the same sport at Otterbein, Alex Cardi will golf at Notre Dame College, Berto Carselle will play baseball at Illinois Institute of Technology, Carter Conrad will play lacrosse at Nazareth, Austin Corry and Will Strawser will play football at Otterbein, Gordon will play lacrosse at Alma, Sydney Hall will play softball at John Carroll, Kennedy will play lacrosse at Wittenberg, Shane Profio will play lacrosse at Walsh, Anthony Sasso will run cross country and track at High Point, Emma Spinner will play soccer at Otterbein, Dana Stover will play lacrosse at Capital, Sydney Wagner will play softball at Case Western Reserve, Lexie Weithman will play volleyball at Wittenberg and Jared Wise will play lacrosse at Otterbein.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave