The Big Walnut High School baseball team battled New Albany for the OCC-Capital Division championship before emerging with the title. Now it must beat the Eagles once more to play for a fourth consecutive district title.
The 11th-seeded Golden Eagles will face sixth-seeded New Albany in a Division I district semifinal Monday, May 14. The game will be played at a neutral site, which as of May 10 had not been announced.
The winner plays 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or 15th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a district final Wednesday, May 16, at a neutral site. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Dublin Coffman.
Big Walnut went 2-1 against New Albany in OCC-Capital play, winning 6-4 on April 10 and 2-1 in nine innings April 27 and losing 6-3 in nine innings April 10.
"Why not us? Why not again? Why not?" coach Jack Schone said. "I really get the feeling that the kids have been able to turn the page (from last season's success). Their attitudes all year looked to be ones with no weight on their shoulders."
Senior pitcher Austin Becker, a Vanderbilt commit, retired the last 15 batters he faced in a 4-0 victory over 39th-seeded Licking Heights in the second round of the district tournament May 9. Big Walnut had a first-round bye.
Becker allowed only one hit and one walk with 13 strikeouts in seven innings as the Golden Eagles improved to 16-11 overall.
First baseman Carson Becker had two RBI and shortstop Noah Sprowls had an RBI and scored a run. Big Walnut scored all its runs in the first inning.
"We're starting to come around, and I really think we can make a deep tournament run," outfielder Connor Gerren said.
While Big Walnut has won three district titles and a regional championship in the past three seasons, the OCC championship was its first since 2012.
The Golden Eagles secured the outright league title with a 10-0 victory over Groveport on May 4. Infielder Colton Lee hit a three-run double and outfielder Cale Sherbourne had a three-run home run.
After a 4-2 loss to Groveport on May 1, Big Walnut needed help heading into its final two league contests. In addition to beating the Cruisers on May 4, the Golden Eagles defeated Franklin Heights 12-0 on May 2 and got the help they needed from Canal Winchester, which beat New Albany 4-2 on May 2 and 4-0 on May 3.
"(The loss to Groveport) was deflating," Lee said. "The only thing you could think is, 'Did we really just blow our chances?' "
Big Walnut finished 12-3 in the OCC-Capital, just ahead of runner-up New Albany (11-4).
"The last week of league play was truly a roller-coaster ride," Schone said. "Emotions of highs and lows. What a way to finish."
Track teams prep for district meet
The track and field teams enter the Division I district meet this week at Hilliard Darby hoping to take advantage of their strengths in the field and distance events.
The boys team will compete in the 17-team district 3 meet, which begins with the field events Wednesday, May 16, continues with the running preliminaries Thursday, May 17, and concludes with the running finals Saturday, May 19.
The girls team will compete in the 16-team district 1 meet. The running preliminaries are Tuesday, May 15, followed by the field events May 17 and the running finals May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet May 10 and May 12 at Olentangy Orange.
Led by sprinter Tim Rumas and thrower Brandon Mosher, the boys team finished third (102 points) in the Delaware County Elite 8 meet May 4, behind host Orange (173) and Olentangy Liberty (119) and ahead of Olentangy (60), Delaware (37) and Buckeye Valley (32).
Rumas won titles in the 100 meters (school-record 10.82 seconds), 200 (22.17) and 400 (50.43), Mosher won both the shot put (54 feet) and discus (159-8 1/2) and Colin White finished first in the 300 hurdles (41.47).
The girls team finished fifth (58) in the Delaware County Elite 8 meet, behind Orange (149), Liberty (112.66), Olentangy (75.33) and Delaware (66) and ahead of Buckeye Valley (42), Delaware Christian (19) and Village Academy (1).
Kaley Rammelsberg won the high jump (meet-record 5-6) and the 3,200 relay of Kaitlin Meade, Becca Bogantz, Grace Unger and Adelle Gartner finished first (10:02.85).
Girls lacrosse team getting set for Eagles
The 10th-seeded girls lacrosse team opens the Division II, Region 7 tournament Thursday, May 17, at seventh-seeded Watterson.
The winner plays second-seeded Columbus Academy or 13th-seeded Bexley in a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 19, at the home of the higher seed. That winner faces third-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, sixth-seeded Hartley, 11th-seeded Dayton Carroll or 15th-seeded Dayton Miami Valley in a regional semifinal May 22.
Big Walnut was 7-9 overall before playing Dublin Scioto on May 10. The Golden Eagles finished 1-6 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Boys lacrosse team preps for Panthers
The 11th-seeded boys lacrosse team opens the Division II, Region 7 tournament Tuesday, May 14, at sixth-seeded Licking Valley.
The winner plays second-seeded Buckeye Valley or 15th-seeded Wellington in a regional quarterfinal Thursday, May 17, at the home of the higher seed. That winner faces third-seeded Watterson, seventh-seeded Dayton Carroll, eighth-seeded Bellbrook or 13th-seeded Jonathan Alder in a regional semifinal May 21.
Big Walnut was 4-10 overall before playing Gahanna on May 10. It finished 0-7 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Postseason underway for softball team
The fifth-seeded softball team opened the Division II district tournament May 10 with a second-round game against 10th-seeded Hartley.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Sparta Highland or seventh-seeded Caledonia River Valley in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner likely would face second-seeded Jonathan Alder or ninth-seeded Buckeye Valley in a district final Friday, May 18, or Saturday, May 19, at Pickerington Central.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 23 at Mason.
Big Walnut closed the regular season May 8 with a 14-2 loss to Westerville Central to fall to 10-11 overall. The Golden Eagles finished 5-5 in the OCC-Capital, behind champion Groveport (9-1).
Boys tennis team competes at sectional
Members of the boys tennis team competed in a Division I sectional tournament May 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg.
Matt Pushkin, Cameron Sutherland and Gabe Mexicott competed in singles, while Tyler Shuster and Collin Bates comprised one doubles team and Sebastian Kirkpatrick and Devon McCullough comprised the other.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Thursday, May 17, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington. At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualify for the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Big Walnut was 7-8 overall following a 3-2 win over Westerville North on May 7.