The Grove City Christian School baseball team is looking to build on winning its first MSL-Cardinal Division championship since 2014.
The Eagles finished 17-5 overall last season and went 12-2 in the league to share the title with Fisher Catholic. They opened league play on a positive note, defeating visiting Zanesville Rosecrans 3-1 on March 29.
"The goal is always the same," said coach A.J. McCampbell, who is in his sixth season. "We want to compete and get better in non-conference games and the first goal is always to win the league. We want to go out and compete for a league title and I don't think that changes."
Junior Jake Spegal (SS/P) pitched the first five innings against Rosecrans, allowing one hit and one unearned run while striking out 12 and walking four to earn the win. Senior Tom Suhayda (1B) had two hits and an RBI.
"It was great getting a win," McCampbell said. "It was also nice being pushed and having the adversity of a close game for our younger players. We didn't hit well and left a lot of runs out there, but did a great job of pitching and did just enough to come out on top."
Grove City Christian also lost to West Jefferson 14-0 in five innings March 23 and was 1-1 before playing Wellington on April 1.
Last season, Spegal was 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 25 innings. He was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district in Division IV.
Senior Gavin Robbins (C/INF/P) was first-team all-district and all-league.
"We have a great group of seniors," Robbins said. "We have some guys returning who really haven't started that much, plus we have some kids coming up. We have a nice core."
Junior Cameron Downton (OF) batted .394 with 33 RBI and 27 RBI last spring. He was first-team all-district and second-team all-league.
Senior Ethan Metsker (3B/OF/DH) hit .400 with 20 runs and 15 RBI and was second-team all-league.
Other players are seniors Carl Richter (OF) and Sam Woods (1B/P), juniors Koby Brunney (OF), Caleb Miller (3B), Andy Wilson (1B/C) and Alex Wilson (LF), sophomores Jake Bapst (OF/2B/P), Josiah Bever (LF), Ivan Bowman (OF), Carson Dick (OF), Jared Ehrman (OF), Collin May (OF/C), Joseph Phillips (2B/SS/P) and Kyle Reed (2B) and freshman Connor Benson (2B/C/P).
Richter is an exchange student from Germany.
"It's a great group," McCampbell said. "Sometimes it feels like you're more of a landscaper than a baseball coach depending on the time of the year, but any day you can be outside bonding and interacting with a great group of guys is a blessing."
A key loss to graduation was Luke Spegal, who batted .443 with 32 RBI and 24 runs last season. He was first-team all-district and all-league.
Alex Moore, another 2018 graduate, hit .385 with 24 runs and 20 RBI. He also was first-team all-district and all-league.
"We're hoping to make another district run this year and hopefully not stop in the district semifinal," said Robbins, whose team lost to Centerburg 9-7 in a district semifinal last season. "We want to make the district final."
Kennedy returns to guide softball team
A familiar face has returned to lead the softball team.
Ron Kennedy, who coached the Eagles in 2016, replaced Elyse Rathbone in January. Rathbone led the team for two seasons, finishing 5-28 overall and 4-18 in the MSL-Cardinal.
Under Kennedy, the Eagles went 4-20 overall and 2-8 in the league.
The Eagles were 0-2 when they opened MSL-Cardinal play April 1 against Wellington. They opened with two losses to Madison Plains, 18-2 in five innings and 14-5 on March 23.
Senior Megan McGrath (C) was second-team all-league last season.
Kennedy said sophomore Taylor Ison (P/OF) and freshmen Maddie Anderson (P/utility), Ava Bailey (P/C) and Grace Leffel (P/OF) will split time in the circle.
Also back are senior Cheyenne Pierce (3B) and juniors Odette Espinoza (OF), Sophie Hoyt (SS), Emma Howard (1B) and Damaris Vanecko (2B/OF).
Other players are senior Yuki Lee (OF) and freshmen Mia Glenn (OF), Kadence Hignite (OF/2B), Kayla Ollam (OF), Jocelyn Rojas (OF) and Paige Spencer (CF).
Lee is an exchange student from Japan.
"We're still really in flux with what we're doing with everybody," Kennedy said.
Last season, the Eagles went 3-15 overall and 2-10 in the league to finish sixth behind champion Berne Union (12-0).
"We haven't played a lot yet, but the way things are going, we're going to compete for the league title and hopefully win a couple (district tournament) games," Kennedy said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 5 -- Upper Arlington at Grandview
*April 8 -- Home vs. UA
*April 10 -- Home vs. Marysville
April 6 -- At Pickerington Central with Westerville South
April 8 -- Home vs. Groveport
*April 10 -- UA at Ohio State's Fred Beekman Park
April 4 -- At Reynoldsburg
April 8 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
*April 9 -- At UA
TRACK & FIELD
April 5 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut
April 9 -- At Hilliard Davidson