The Westerville South High School baseball team is looking to recover from what has been an up-and-down season and head into the Division I district tournament on the upswing.
The Wildcats were 6-11 overall and 1-9 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy on April 26.Softball slideshow •View photos from the Central-South softball game April 20.
South has been involved in several close games, with five of its first 11 losses coming by three runs or fewer.
Junior Jordan Orr, who has emerged as the team's top pitcher, believes the Wildcats can make a late-season push.
The postseason begins May 8.
"We have as much talent as anyone around," Orr said. "We can play with all these teams that we lost one-run games to. ... I think we can play with all of them."
South led visiting Central 4-3 in the seventh inning April 21 before the Warhawks scored twice to pull out a 5-4 win.
"You can't make a two-out error," coach Tim Bates said. "The Westervilles are all so close. We talk about what we have to take care of to make sure we don't have any more one-run losses. We have to finish the games. Finishing the games has been our priority."
The Wildcats bounced back to sweep Westland 13-3 and 8-7 in eight innings April 21. Junior Jaelen Gill earned his first save of the season in the second game.
Since splitting two games with Connellsville (Pennsylvania) on April 15, South had lost three consecutive one-run games before sweeping Westland. That included a pair of losses to Westerville North, 1-0 on April 17 and 6-5 on April 19.
Orr was the tough-luck losing pitcher in the first game against North, and Gill took the loss in the second game. Gill homered in the first inning and South built a 5-3 lead in the fifth before the Warriors rallied.
Bates is hoping for a strong finish to the regular season.
"When we're at full strength, I have total confidence that we can beat anybody in our league and anybody in central Ohio on any given day," he said.
Orr relishes the opportunity to lead the pitching staff, but said it's been a team effort.
"I've been pitching great, all the pitchers have been pitching great," he said. "It's nice for coach to say I've been the ace, it's very generous to say. I'm excited to hear that, but I don't consider myself the ace. Brad Robbins is up there. Eric Edman, Jaelen Gill, our pitching staff is phenomenal this year."
Boys volleyball team
Boys volleyball coach Vicki Phillips has been pleased with her team's play, as the Wildcats were 9-2 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Olentangy Liberty on April 25.
South will compete in the eight-team Centerville Elite Tournament on Saturday, April 29. The field also includes Hilliard Darby, Beavercreek, Cincinnati Elder, Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati St. Xavier and Cleveland St. Ignatius.
South lost to Darby 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 in a tri-match April 22 at home. The Wildcats defeated Moeller 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 25-17 in their other match.
"I'm very happy with the way the team is coming together," Phillips said. "They have their eyes watching the end prize. The boys are getting it. They just want to improve every day and that's what we're doing."
Phillips said the strong play of Colin Blaser, Luke Carpenter, Josh Coffey, Roman Szwabinsky and Deion Woodson has keyed the team's success.
"I don't feel that just one of them stands out," Phillips said. "As a team, we're collectively working as a unit instead of as individuals."
Track teams compete
in Wildcat Invite
The boys and girls track and field teams both earned runner-up finishes in the Wildcat Invitational on April 21 at home.
The boys finished second (140 points) of 10 teams behind Mason (146).
Dominique Long won the 100 meters (10.96 seconds) and 400 (49.43), Malik Powell won the 300 hurdles (40.35), Ray Gordon won the triple jump (40 feet, 8 1/4 inches) and Elton Sunnyway, Bankole Abimbola, Powell and Ibukunoluwa Alfred won the 800 relay (1:30.96).
The girls finished second (88) of 10 teams behind Mason (209.5).
Deja Mason, Kayla Silva, Alexys McClure and Peyton Guice won the 400 relay (50.3), Brielle Collier, Marteana Newton, Maria Hays and Kayla Silva won the 1,600 relay (4:13.02) and Guice won the high jump (5-2).
"Our young athletes and newcomers to track and field are growing in experience and confidence week to week and really pushing our veterans," coach Jimmy Gaul said.
"In return, the veterans are providing great examples of what it takes to compete in track and field at this level in Ohio and are providing great instruction to bring the young kids and rookies along."