When Ryan Longbrake took over the Dublin Scioto High School baseball team prior to this season, he looked for reliable players to insert into key positions.

Up stepped senior J.R. Marshall, who has played in center field for most of the season and has been a key contributor during the coaching transition.

Marshall has been batting third or fifth in the order and was hitting .304 with nine runs scored and a triple through 15 games. He has also seen time on the mound.

"We've been moving him around a little bit," Longbrake said. "Our outfield has been incredibly strong. I thought that was going to be one of the weaker points of our team, but they have come on. J.R. has been solid for us all year and he's starting to swing the bat a lot better again. He's been huge for us. He's been consistent."

The Irish were 6-10 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Bradley on April 26.

The Irish managed just one hit in a 3-0 loss to Thomas Worthington on April 21, but bounced back to rally past the Cardinals 6-5 on April 24.

Scioto closes league play with a series against Jerome. The Irish play at Jerome on Monday, May 1, before playing host to the Celtics on Wednesday, May 3.

The games will have extra meaning for Longbrake, a 2010 Jerome graduate who coached the Celtics' junior varsity the past two seasons.

"That is definitely an incentive to get two Ws," Marshall said. "(Longbrake) doesn't really acknowledge it. Guys bring it up how he went to another Dublin school. It makes him want to get the Ws even more. It's his old school and he used to coach there."

Marshall was introduced to baseball at age 4 and has played travel ball since age 10.

"I've pretty much played my entire life," he said.

Marshall would like to continue his playing career at the college level and is considering first attending a junior college.

"I've gotten quite a few in-state offers from schools like Mount Union, a lot of Division III and a couple Division II schools," he said. "What I want to do is go to a junior college somewhere far away and get away from Dublin, not that it's a bad thing. It's nice to get out and meet new people and make new connections."

Scioto split a pair of games on April 22, losing at Westerville Central 5-2 before rebounding to win at Westerville North 2-1.

Against Central, Marshall made a diving catch in the fourth inning. The Warhawks scored three runs in the inning, but Marshall's catch prevented more from being scored.

"When I get an opportunity to go after a ball, I've done that quite a few times this year," he said. "You get a little rocked, but coming up with the baseball is a good feeling."

Scioto committed four errors against Central.

"Our defense let us down," Longbrake said. "Three of their runs were unearned. It's a completely different game without those errors. We have to be stronger defensively because that's our strongpoint."

Jeremy Erickson went the distance against North, scattering five hits.

"We definitely should have taken both games," said Marshall, who also has seen time on the mound. "We should have taken a lot this season. It feels kind of repetitive saying that, but that was a nice, solid win. Guys came off the bench and did their jobs. It was a real team effort and that's why we won."

Matt Magno led the team in batting average (.362) and RBI (11) through 15 games, followed by Weston Talentino and Jared Nolan (both .341) and Logan Garverick (.333).

Talentino had a team-high 11 runs scored.

"We've been in pretty much every game we've played, but we have to find a way to win the close ones," Longbrake said. "We have to be a lot more fundamentally sound."

Boys volleyball team
seeking league title

The boys volleyball team entered the week looking to remain in the OCC-Cardinal title chase.

The Irish were 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league before playing Hilliard Darby on April 25.

The Panthers entered the week 7-0 in the league.

The Irish went 1-1 in a tri-match April 21 at home, defeating Pickerington North 25-16, 25-14 and losing to Olentangy Liberty 25-17, 25-23.

Coach Doug Arden said Cameron Balla, Pace Brunswick, Ross Esterline, Yohei Matsuba and Derek Topp have been leading the team.

"I'm definitely happy with the start," Arden said. "We've had some days where we've played better than others. But if you can fight your way through those days and still win, that's a good thing. We have some stuff we know we need to work on, but I'm real happy so far."

Girls lacrosse team
continues to improve

First-year girls lacrosse coach Sarah Zink remains pleased with her team's progression.

The Irish are 3-8 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Scioto, which opened the season with back-to-back wins, had lost eight consecutive games before defeating Centennial 17-3 on April 24.

The Irish lost two games in the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament on April 22 at Thomas Worthington, falling to Stow-Munroe Falls 9-5 and Hinsdale (Illinois) Central 8-4.

"Our girls played really hard and we were working on transition and things like that," Zink said. "We're a very young team. We have 10 sophomores on varsity and we have eight juniors and three seniors, so we're in the learning phases still. But they're working hard and trying to figure out a new offense and defense and we're going in the right direction."

Against Stow-Munroe Falls, Jessie Hartman and Allie Vogel each had two goals and Kate Lewis scored one. Goalkeeper Aubrey Webb, who recently returned to the lineup after missing the early part of the season with a hip injury, made six saves.

"We're very fortunate to have her back and her leadership as well," Zink said of Webb.

"We still have (sophomore goalie) Kim (Martinez), who is doing an amazing job, also. It's nice that I can depend on both of them."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank