Big Walnut High School girls lacrosse coach Steve Palmer has been tinkering with his lineup since the start of the season. While finding the right combination remains a work in progress, the Golden Eagles are gaining confidence.
"I think we're right there, and as I've said, it's a process," Palmer said. "Obviously, we've been playing a lot more kids and that helps with our endurance and energy level."
The Golden Eagles' depth helped them post their third consecutive victory April 17, beating Westerville South 17-6 to improve to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
Cassady Becker had nine goals, Audrey Rice scored three and Izzy Rooney and Kim Serna each scored two against the Wildcats, as Big Walnut had its best offensive production since a 21-6 victory over Centennial in the season opener March 28.
Becker tallied five goals in a 13-3 win over Marysville on April 13 as seven players scored, and Lauren Murphy scored four in a 16-3 victory over Centennial on April 14.
"I feel like, offensively, we're moving the ball a lot more this year," Becker said. "We worked a lot in the offseason on offense and communication, so that's also helped. My teammates are setting me up on cuts, which has really helped with my scoring."
Becker, a junior midfielder and Birmingham-Southern College recruit, had 26 goals on the season and 91 for her career entering an April 19 game against Gahanna.
Rooney, a senior midfielder, and junior midfielders Meri Buckles and Megan Helber also have had multiple-goal games.
"We're really working on getting to the next level of play, and I think we've been doing well with that," senior defender Alex Williams said. "I know coach Palmer has been putting in a lot of different combinations to see what works well as a team."
Palmer has been substituting as many as nine players, many of them on defense, which continues to improve. During the three-game winning streak, Big Walnut held its opponents to an average of four goals.
Prior to that, the Golden Eagles had allowed double-digit goals in losses to Olentangy Liberty (19-2 on April 10) and Westerville Central (10-5 on April 12).
"For a lot of players, it's kind of a double-edged sword," Palmer said. "In years past, we didn't have to worry too much about playing time, everybody had a lot. ... How we go about substituting has changed for us, but it's a good problem to have."
One of the team's regular starters is sophomore goalkeeper Aubrey Logue, who took over for 2017 graduate Emily Hall, a four-year starter who finished with 417 career saves. Hall is now playing for Ursuline College.
Palmer has noted Logue's adjustment from playing junior varsity last season.
With five regular-season games remaining, Big Walnut hopes to position itself for the Division II tournament draw May 6. The Golden Eagles finished 6-10-1 last season, losing 21-2 to eventual state champion DeSales in a second-round Region 7 game.
"Everybody goes into that seed meeting with different goals in mind," Palmer said. "Stringing a couple wins together before the draw meeting will help, hopefully, so we're not playing that No. 1 seed and maybe a four, five or six (seed)."
Boys tennis team seeks consistency
Boys tennis coach Ryan Balaz has been preaching consistency to his young and inexperienced team, which dropped to 2-4 overall with a 3-2 loss to Westerville South on April 18.
"We've definitely seen some growth, especially from our first-year players with their fundamentals," Balaz said. "They're still learning what it takes to be consistently correct with their fundamentals. We're building on that. It's the biggest thing right now."
The Golden Eagles were 2-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing Groveport on April 19, having posted victories over Newark (3-2 on April 12) and Canal Winchester (3-2 on April 5).
Sebastian Kirkpatrick and Devon McCullough, both first-year varsity players, were 3-3 at first doubles entering the match against the Cruisers. Gabe Mexicott was 3-3 at second singles and Matt Pushkin was 2-3 at first singles.
Boys lacrosse team posts second victory
The boys lacrosse team posted its second victory of the season by defeating Johnstown 10-0 on April 10.
Big Walnut was 2-5 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on April 21 and is 0-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Golden Eagles were averaging seven goals through seven games. Junior midfielder Nathan Montgomery had a team-high 14 goals and three assists, while sophomore attacker John Grumney had 11 goals and five assists and junior attacker Judah Lozano had 10 goals and two assists.
Borland sets records for girls track team
Colbi Borland of the girls track and field team set two school records in the Hank Smith Invitational on April 14 at Heath.
The sophomore won the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 12.49 seconds and placed second in the 3,200 in 11:21.81.
Her performances in those two events helped Big Walnut win the 16-team meet. The Golden Eagles scored 103 points to edge runner-up New Concord John Glenn (100). Canal Winchester (65.5) and Buckeye Valley (58) rounded out the top four.
The boys team finished second (78) in the Hank Smith Invitational, behind Thornville Sheridan (97).
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 23 -- At Groveport
*April 25 -- At Canal Winchester. The Golden Eagles beat the Indians 1-0 on April 2 and lost to them 1-0 on April 5.
April 26 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland
*April 27 -- Home vs. New Albany. On April 10, the Golden Eagles lost to the Eagles 6-3 and defeated them 6-4.
*April 24 -- At Olentangy
*April 26 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
April 28 -- Home vs. Licking Valley
*April 24 -- Home vs. Olentangy
*April 26 -- At Orange
*April 23 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester. The Golden Eagles beat the Indians 15-5 on April 11.
April 24 -- Home vs. Whetstone
*April 25 -- At New Albany. The Golden Eagles lost to the Eagles 8-7 on April 12.
*April 26 -- Home vs. Newark
April 23 -- Home vs. Granville
April 24 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
April 25 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
April 26 -- At Delaware
*April 27 -- At Franklin Heights
April 28 -- Home vs. Marysville
TRACK & FIELD
April 23 -- Home vs. Westerville North
April 25 -- At Olentangy
April 28 -- Gary Smith Invitational at Thomas Worthington