Despite entering the Division I district tournament as the 20th seed, the Gahanna Lincoln High School baseball team was back in familiar territory May 15 as it played fifth-seeded Upper Arlington in a district semifinal at Hilliard Darby.
The Lions were regional runners-up each of the past two years but battled inconsistency for much of the early part of the regular season.
With a first-round win over 44th-seeded Walnut Ridge (17-0 on May 7) and a second-round upset at 12th-seeded Watkins Memorial (8-0 on May 9), Gahanna had won seven games in a row and was 16-10 heading into the matchup with UA.
"In the middle of the season we were finding ways to lose baseball games," coach Mike Shade said. "Now (we have been) finding ways to win them. It's a whole different mentality. (Watkins Memorial is) a very good ball club."
If the Lions defeated UA, they will play eighth-seeded Lancaster or 17th-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district final Thursday, May 17, at a site to be announced.
The district champion plays Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange, Grove City or Marysville in a regional semifinal May 24 at Dublin Coffman.
Mitchel Megias, who tossed a one-hitter as the Lions beat Grove City 1-0 on April 30, pitched a two-hitter and struck out eight and walked one against Watkins Memorial.
"At the end of the game (against Watkins Memorial) I had a little blister issue, but it was good to get through it," Megias said. "It feels like old Gahanna baseball. The last two years we've been on runs. This year was kind of a down start, but it was good to get back in the groove. I had as good of defense as I could ask for with Jarod (White making) a web gem at first base, a great play by Evan (Wolf in right field) and (shortstop) Noah (Laurent) and (second baseman) Alex (Streitenberger) getting every ball hit to them."
Laurent had two singles and a stolen base, Streitenberger and White each doubled and scored one run and Josh Miller had two hits and walked once to lead the offense.
"We've been having a better approach at the plate and doing a better job of hitting the ball where it's pitched," Laurent said.
Girls track team adds to title streak
For the sixth consecutive year, the girls track and field team captured a league championship when it scored 164 points in the OCC-Ohio Division meet held May 9 at Lancaster and May 12 at Coffman.
The Lions are competing in the Division I, district 2 meet, which began May 15 and 16 and concludes Saturday, May 19, at Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North.
The Lions captured six titles in the league meet.
Claire Steigerwald won the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 10.09 seconds) and 3,200 (11:20.87), and Amariah Thomas won the 100 (12.08) and was runner-up in the 200 (25.24).
The 1,600 relay of Shynae Deas, Madison Martinez, Alexis Thigpen and Thomas finished first (3:53.28), as did the 3,200 relay (9:23.36) of Deas, Allison Groves, Martinez and Steigerwald.
In the 800, Martinez placed first (2:17.31), Deas was second (2:17.59) and Groves was third (2:20.51). Martinez also added a runner-up finish in the 1,600 (5:16.33).
Also finishing second were Trinity Houpe in the 300 hurdles (45.42), Faith Hunter in the high jump (5 feet, 6 inches), Lacey Stringer in the shot put (38-2 3/4), Thigpen in the 400 (56.84) and the 400 relay of Nya Bailey, Houpe, Shaina Rutledge and Zoe White (50.02).
Placing third were Brooke Johnson in the shot put (37-1 1/4), Amanda Lee in the long jump (16-6 1/2) and the 800 relay of Joi Bradley, Rutledge, Thigpen and White (1:44.54).
"We had some good times, and now it's about getting ready for (the postseason)," coach Roger Whittaker said. "We've won six (league titles) in a row, so we sent some seniors out on a good note."
Boys track team takes second in league
The boys track team also is competing in the district 2 meet.
In the OCC-Ohio meet, Gahanna scored 108 points to finish second behind Pickerington Central (166).
LaCarr Trent captured league titles in the 100 (10.67) and 200 (21.4). He also ran on the first-place 400 relay (42.56) with Kelly Wilson, Alexander Drenski and Lee Bennett and the second-place 1,600 relay (3:20.73) with Ian Slaughter, Jayden Hill and Jerome Buckner.
Buckner added a runner-up finish in the 400 (48.7) and a third-place finish in the 100 (10.8), and Riddle was runner-up in the shot put (49-6). Also placing third were Riley Jackson in the 3,200 (9:48.53), Dylan Kaylor in the high jump (6-2), A'Che Sanchez-Baccus in the shot put (46-5 1/4), Slaughter in the 300 hurdles (40.86) and Wilson in the 110 hurdles (14.51).
"It was a good day," coach Andrew Johnston said. "LaCarr ran a (personal-best time) in the 200 that's No. 1 or 2 in the state."
Softball team battles in district tourney
The sixth-seeded softball team beat fourth-seeded Groveport 7-3 in a Division I district semifinal May 14 at Pickerington Central.
The Lions advanced to play 15th-seeded Mount Vernon in a district final Friday, May 18, or Saturday, May 19, at Central.
The district champion faces Olentangy or Reynoldsburg in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 23, at Ohio State.
The regional final is May 26 at Ohio State.
On May 9 in a second-round game at home against 34th-seeded Canal Winchester, Alaina Marcum hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to give the Lions a 10-7 victory. Addie Kittel and Samantha Lindsey also homered, and Kittel picked up the victory in the circle.
"I was up to bat (in the seventh) and the first pitch was right down the pipe," Marcum said. "I honestly thought it was going to be a flyout but it kept going and going. It was the best feeling in the world."
The Lions, who lost to Lakewood 13-12 on May 11 in a regular-season game, were 17-8 after beating the Cruisers.
They had won four of five games before facing Groveport, including beating Grove City 10-9 in nine innings May 3 as Marcum walked to force in the winning run
Doubles team makes district in tennis
The doubles team of seniors Colin Jordan and Daniel Shtein will open the Division I district boys tennis tournament against Orange's Jordan Phelps and Alex Heiden on Thursday, May 17, at Bradley.
The district tournament concludes Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington, with the top four finishers in singles and doubles advancing to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
On May 10 and 12 in a sectional at Reynoldsburg, Jordan and Shtein finished fourth.
After beating Newark's Stealth Miracle and Maddix Curliss 6-1, 6-0 in their district-qualifying match, Jordan and Shtein lost to top-seeded Nathan Jose and Devin Boyer of New Albany 6-2, 6-1 in a semifinal and to second-seeded Alex Konstan and Sam Routzahn of Olentangy 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-5 in the third-place match.
Also in doubles at sectional, Kyle Fout and Connor Barnette lost 6-1, 6-0 to New Albany's Ben Yan and Dev Vasani in the second round.
In singles, Oliver Cope lost in the first round, Josh Russell lost in the second round and Josh Miller lost in a play-in match.
"I'm really happy with the way we played in our singles matches," coach Chris Schwinnen said.
The Lions lost to New Albany 4-0 on May 14 in a Division I district semifinal of the OTCA team tournament to drop to 12-5.
Girls lacrosse team opens tourney action
The seventh-seeded girls lacrosse team lost to ninth-seeded Pickerington Central 18-9 on May 14 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
The Lions, who beat the Tigers 9-5 on April 17, finished 11-7. In the tournament loss, Stephanie Shirey scored three goals and Brooke Gates, Melanie Whalen and Nevaeh Lashley each scored two goals.
After losing six of seven games, Gahanna beat Westerville South 18-6 on May 11 in its regular-season finale.
Volleyball team set for postseason play
The sixth-seeded boys volleyball team opens the Division I East Region tournament Saturday, May 19, against 13th-seeded Thomas Worthington or 15th-seeded Pickerington Central at Olentangy in a second-round match. The winner plays seventh-seeded Liberty or 12th-seeded Coffman on Tuesday, May 22, in a regional semifinal at Olentangy. The regional final is May 25 at Westerville Central.
Before facing Jerome on May 15 in the OCC Challenge at Darby, the Lions were 14-8 overall.
They lost to Hilliard Davidson 25-19, 23-25, 27-25, 25-22 on May 8 in a match that determined the OCC-Ohio title, as the Wildcats finished 10-2 and Gahanna finished 9-3.
The Lions then won two of their next three, beating Watterson 16-25, 25-20, 25-12, 25-16 on May 11 and splitting two matches May 12, losing to host Beavercreek 25-13, 26-24, 25-18 and beating Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 25-20, 25-20, 25-22.
Boys lacrosse falls in tourney opener
The 15th-seeded boys lacrosse team won five of its final six of the regular season but lost to 16th-seeded Miamisburg 15-11 on May 12 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
Gahanna finished 8-11 overall and sixth (2-5) in the OCC-Central behind Coffman (7-0), Upper Arlington (6-1), Davidson (5-2), Pickerington Central (4-3) and Pickerington North (3-4) and ahead of Marysville (1-6) and Newark (0-7).
On May 5, the Lions lost to Columbus Academy 12-8 in the first North Hamilton Backyard Battle.
"For us moving forward right now it's about what kids do we have that are coachable," coach Chris Robbins said.
"The kids are understanding that they've got to be competitive and push forward. The best way to keep from starting over is to not quit."
Senior midfielders Quinton Klein and Thomas Prociuk, who were the Lions' leading scorers, each missed time in April with injuries.
Seniors David Leibas (goalkeeper) and Charles Clayton (defender) also were key players.
Sophomore Aidan O'Harra could be the heir apparent at goalie but also was among the team's better offensive players.
Junior midfielders Aaron Menges and Tyler Torr and sophomore attacker Mason Hall were others who filled key roles on offense.
Others eligible to return include juniors Connor Estell (midfielder), Riley Lutsko (defender), Chase Ramsey (attacker) and Jon Swelstad (defender), sophomores Sean Cunningham (defender), Steven Dong (midfielder), Benjamin Herman (midfielder), Michael Leibas (defender), Dylan Rumpke (attacker) and Zane Thayer (midfielder) and freshmen Mykohl Martin (attacker) and Colton Ramsey (attacker).
"We're a Division I team in a tough conference with a youth program that started three years ago," Robbins said. "What keeps the coaching staff going is the love for the game and the love for the kids. What keeps the kids going is the brotherhood we have inside the locker room."