First-year Westerville South High School softball coach Emily Swank-Kavanaugh continues to put her stamp on the program.
She has been pleased with her relatively young team's progress as it prepares for the Division I district tournament. The Wildcats were 5-13 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy on May 1.
"We're still growing," Swank-Kavanaugh said. "We have nine freshmen on the roster who are looking to get at-bats. We have seniors who are learning a brand-new program. It's going to take us more than one year. We're heading in the right direction. They know where they want to go -- they know what it takes to get there -- it's just a matter of finding the right combination and putting it on the field."
The Wildcats displayed some of their improvement in a 6-2 loss at Reynoldsburg on April 28, opening a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Meghan Bame's RBI single.
South lost to Watterson 13-1 in five innings in the second game.
The Wildcats bounced back to defeat Westerville North 7-2 on April 30 as Bame earned the win in the circle.
South faced Westerville Central on May 2 in an OCC-Buckeye game and plays host to Olentangy Liberty on Thursday, May 3, to close league play.
South closes the regular season with home games Friday, May 4, against Hilliard Davidson and Saturday, May 5, against Bexley and Canal Winchester.
The Wildcats are seeded 37th of 46 teams for the district tournament and visit 32nd-seeded Briggs in the first round Monday, May 7. The winner plays at second-seeded Central Crossing in the second round Wednesday, May 9.
Bame, a junior, and freshman Megan Shoemaker have split time in the circle and have shown promise, according to Swank-Kavanaugh. Both should give the Wildcats a solid foundation at a key position next season.
Senior Emily Phillips also has contributed in the circle.
South got into the win column in league play by beating Olentangy Orange 3-2 on April 20. The Pioneers avenged that setback 6-2 on April 26.
Through 17 games, McKenna Saunders was batting a team-high .490, followed by Melanie Batchelder (.354), Phillips (.333) and Bame (.319).
Phillips had a team-high 10 RBI.
Saunders believes Swank-Kavanaugh is a main reason behind the team's development.
"All the rules and expectations that she's setting for the freshmen -- we have nine freshmen and there are only 17 girls -- will lead to a much better culture than what we've had in the past," Saunders said. "Our team will continue to grow and develop as they continue to coach for us."
Swank-Kavanaugh replaced Jerry Kelbley, who retired after 36 seasons.
"I stepped in thinking it was my program and I don't know if it's because I've been teaching in the building so long and have a lot pride in the Westerville South name," Swank-Kavanaugh said. "Jerry and I had conversations about me coming to this program even before he decided he was going to retire. It was an easy fit. I knew a lot of these girls and I was ready to work with them."
Track teams compete at Marion Harding
The boys and girls track and field teams competed in the Marion Harding Night Invitational on April 27.
For the boys, Michael Mansaray, Gideon Abimbola, Ibukunoluwa Alfred and Dariaun Anderson won the 400-meter relay (43.72 seconds), Rehoboth Ogundare won the pole vault (14 feet, 4 inches) and Anthony Parham finished first in the shot put (51-3).
Abimbola was second in the 100 (11.1), George-Sedgwick Patil was third in the 110 hurdles (15.61) and Alfred was third in the 200 (23.09).
South finished third (75.33 points) of 14 teams behind champion Ashland (91).
For the girls, Caroline Sheridan was fourth in the pole vault (9-6) as the Wildcats finished 13th (17) of 15 teams behind champion Liberty (119).
Baseball team preps for postseason
The baseball team was 5-16 overall and 3-8 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing North on May 1.
The Wildcats avenged a 4-3, eight-inning loss at Central on April 20 by defeating the visiting Warhawks 6-2 on April 26. Eric Edman earned his first varsity win.
South, which lost to Orange 4-2 on April 30 and also played North on May 2 in a league game, plays host to Olentangy on Thursday, May 3, and visits Central on Friday, May 4, to finish OCC-Buckeye play.
The Wildcats close the regular season Saturday, May 5, at Teays Valley.
South is seeded 34th of 48 teams for the Division I district tournament and visits 22nd-seeded Hamilton Township in the first round Monday, May 7. The winner plays at sixth-seeded New Albany in the second round Wednesday, May 9.
Below are the coming schedules for the South boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 5 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
May 7 -- At Dublin Scioto
May 9 -- At Jonathan Alder
May 5 -- At Dayton Carroll
May 8 -- Home vs. Whetstone
May 3 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
May 4 -- At Pickerington Central
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Debbie Merriman Invitational at home
*May 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central. The Wildcats lost to the Warhawks 25-13, 25-10, 25-17 on April 23.
May 8 -- Home vs. New Albany