The Hilliard Darby High School softball team saw its four-game winning streak end with a 3-2 loss to Dublin Scioto on April 24.
Nonetheless, the Panthers already have matched their victory total from a year ago.
Darby was 10-6 overall before playing Canal Winchester on April 25 and was 5-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before facing Dublin Jerome on April 26.
"This is the best start in our program since Bradley opened (in the 2009-10 school year)," coach Shawn Papp said. "The girls are pretty excited about that. We entered the season with a lot of questions since three starters did not return from last season, but the girls are really hitting their stride right now and competing in every game."
The Panthers finished 10-16 last season and lost three starters who were eligible to return in senior Randi Saito (P) and juniors Breanna Oldaker (1B) and Cerynn Siemer (CF). Siemer's family moved to Florida, while Saito and Oldaker transferred to Olentangy Liberty and West Jefferson, respectively. Oldaker batted .426 and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last year.
In addition, Darby lost key starters in 2016 graduates Logan Cortelletti (P/INF) and Mara Wende (2B).
"Our girls have really stepped up and they're bringing positive energy and confidence even through some ups and downs," Papp said. "I'm so proud of these girls."
After losing to Bradley 9-2 on April 17, the Panthers posted consecutive wins over Delaware (1-0 on April 19), Worthington Kilbourne (12-2 on April 21), Upper Arlington (12-11 on April 22) and DeSales (7-4 on April 22).
"The win over Delaware was one of the biggest in a long time for this program," Papp said. "We got great pitching from Maddi Clark, who is throwing very well right now for a sophomore. She has a 2.69 ERA, but it's dropping. (Designated player) Mikayla Kesel drew a bases-loaded walk to score (right fielder) Payton Senter with the only run of the game."
Through 12 games, shortstop Tegan Cortelletti was batting .653 with 16 runs scored and 11 stolen bases, Kesel was hitting .631 and Senter was batting .345.
"Tegan is a lefty slapper who can also drive the ball," Papp said. "She leads us in RBI despite batting leadoff. She has a verbal commitment with Indiana (University). Payton has come on real strong after a slow start and we always count on her for quality at-bats. Mikayla was playing part-time to start the year but worked her way into getting more at-bats now.
"(Catcher) Jessica Cox got off to a slow start, too, but her bat is coming around and she has such a strong arm. Bri Prizzurro, our third baseman and a three-year starter, broke an ankle in basketball season and appears to be getting healthier. If we can continue to play like this and build on this, we'll be in good shape."
The Panthers, whose best season since Bradley opened was 2010 when they finished 15-10, have one full-time senior starter in Cox. Senior Morgan Kromalic sees time as designated player.
"We're excited about this season and next year looks really promising, too," Papp said.
Baseball team eyes
league lead, high seed
The baseball team has a key OCC-Cardinal series with Thomas Worthington this week.
Darby was 16-3 overall and 7-1 in the league before playing host to the Cardinals on April 26. The teams meet again Friday, April 28, at Thomas, which fell to 7-1 in the league with a 6-5 loss to Scioto on April 24.
A sweep of the Cardinals not only would give Darby sole possession of first place in the OCC-Cardinal, but it also would increase the Panthers' chances of being awarded a high seed at the Division I district tournament draw on Sunday, April 30.
Darby swept Jerome in league play, winning 5-1 on April 17 and 13-3 on April 19.
In the second game, Luke Morris went 3-for-3 with four RBI, Tyler Chumita was 3-for-4 with two RBI, Justin Fugitt had two hits and two RBI and Cory Brooks doubled and drove in three runs. Brooks also scattered seven hits and struck out 10 on the mound.
In the first game, Chandler Barlow pitched a three-hitter.
The Panthers managed only four hits in a 6-5 loss to DeSales on April 21. Chumita singled and tripled and Clay Strausbaugh hit a three-run home run.
In a three-team doubleheader on April 22, Darby beat host Mount Vernon 8-7 and routed Clarksville Clinton-Massie 13-0.
Against Mount Vernon, Chumita went 3-for-4 with a double, Ryan Etherton singled and doubled, Strausbaugh also had two hits and Ben Gbur had a two-run double.
Against Clinton-Massie, Morris doubled, tripled and drove in three runs, Cameron Tackett had two hits and three RBI, Nick Pizzuti tripled, singled and had two RBI and Strausbaugh added two hits.
Girls track team
wins Fulton Relays
The girls track and field team displayed its depth while winning the Fulton Relays on April 21 at Lancaster.
The Panthers won three events in the 17-team meet, but scored 87.5 points to beat runner-up Dublin Coffman (75).
Emma Kowalski won the discus (122 feet, 9 inches) and hammer throw (128-1/4) and placed third in the shot put (37-0), while the 3,200-meter relay of Abby Cannon, Tia McLaughlin, Daniella Santos and Sydney Wyngarden finished first in 9 minutes, 48.06 seconds.
Maliyah Ellis placed second in the long jump (16-2 1/2). Other third-place finishers were Lauren Iosue in the discus (102-8), the 1,600 relay of Jillian Simpson, McLaughlin, Abby Kunze and Wyngarden (4:06.89), the sprint medley relay of Zayna Hampton, Kiera Toliver, Regan Carsey and Naomi Walters (1:55.59) and the distance medley relay of Kunze, Morgan Blair, Ellis and Erin Cowan (7:27.39).
The boys team finished second (73) of 17 teams, behind Lancaster (87.5).
Dylan Litreal won the hammer throw (169-7) and the distance medley relay of Malachi McGill, Carter Williams, Eric Ingram and Ellis Farson finished first (10:46.07).
Placing second were the 400 relay of Clint Barnett, Andrew Black, Williams and Malcolm Mock (43.55), the 3,200 relay of Williams, Ingram, Josh Baldridge and McGill and the sprint medley relay of Barnett, Mock, Black and Jared Butler (1:37.56).
Finishing third were Litreal in the discus (137-4), Butler in the high jump (5-10) and the 1,600 relay of Mock, Ingram, Butler and McGill (3:27.45).