Not only can Austin Woods play all over the field for the Central Crossing High School baseball team, but he had hits in two-thirds of his at-bats through five games this spring.
Despite that, the senior utility player said his biggest strength on the diamond is his base-running. Specifically, his base-stealing prowess helped ignite the Comets' offense in what was a 4-1 start entering the week.
Woods was batting .667 with a .727 on-base percentage, eight runs, three RBI and three stolen bases as the Comets got out to their best start since 2013 when they were 7-1. They finished that season a program-best 18-10.
"I have always wanted to be a power hitter, but it hasn't really turned out that way," said Woods, who plays third base, shortstop, second base and catcher and also pitches. "I just go up there, try not to strike out and put the ball in play.
"Base-running is probably the best part of my game. Whenever I get on base, I feel like I can steal second easily, steal third easily, and most of the time I get on, I score."
Woods said being a pitcher really doesn't factor into his reading of an opponent's pickoff move to first. That just comes from studying his tendencies on the mound.
"It's more of a timing thing," Woods said. "Our assistant coach (Jim Habermehl) has taught us a walking lead. I can time up the pitcher and know what's coming.
"I think it's easier to steal on a left-hander. The giveaways are a lot more obvious. He can keep his leg straight, but if he crosses his knee, he can't go back to first. Once he crosses his knee, he's going to the plate."
The Comets played Upper Arlington on April 8 in OCC-Central Division action. Their lone loss entering the week was an 11-8 setback against the Golden Bears on April 5 in the league opener.
Last season, Woods was first-team all-league and all-district in Division I after leading the Comets in batting average (.405), RBI (18) and stolen bases (12) and tying for the lead in runs with 17.
"Austin brings a lot of varsity experience and shows up on game days ready to play," coach Scott Todd said. "He also brings a lot of versatility. Austin can play almost any position in the field that we ask him to and he was recognized for this last year by earning first-team all-district as a utility player."
Woods had yet to take the mound through five games this season. As a junior, he was 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 16 walks in 21 innings.
"I throw a four-seam fastball, a two-seamer, a knuckle-curve and I'm working on a sinker and a change-up," he said.
Woods said being a pitcher also helps his performance at the plate. He not only can deduce what a pitcher might be sending his way, but he also can tell from his opponent's hand movements.
"(Being a pitcher) allows me to see pitches better, and it allows me to see how breaking balls are being held," Woods said. "If they are standing on the mound and if they are moving the ball around in their glove, I can pick up the little things and know what's coming."
The Comets' strong start was not a surprise to Woods because of the chemistry the players have built.
"We have been together four or five years, and we have good relationships," he said. "We pretty much have had the same lineup for three years now.
"Our pitching has been going really good, and our hitting is better than it has been in the past. People are more confident at the plate. We have seen some of these pitchers for three years, and we're putting ourselves in the right mindset to be successful."
Todd said the Comets simply have been playing solid, fundamental baseball.
"From top to bottom in the lineup offensively we are executing, (and we're) getting great pitching and playing good defense," Todd said. "The good start has been a collective effort by everyone and we will have to keep that up if we want to continue to have a successful season."
Boys tennis team led by singles courts
The boys tennis program has the minimum seven players needed to fill a varsity lineup.
The singles courts feature senior Owen Yoakum (first), sophomore Johnny Romanov (second) and senior Stephen Semchishin (third).
"Our singles players are the strength of our team," 10th-year coach Dusty Rhodes said. "In Owen Yoakum, Johnny Roma-nov and Stephen Semchishin, we have three guys that we can count on each match."
Sophomores Calvin Lim and Bogdan Semchishin are at first doubles and juniors Christian Petry and Josh Toscano are at second doubles.
"We have some young players that need to have match experience," said Rhodes, whose team finished 3-8 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central last season. "We're still learning how to compete and play to the highest level possible."
The Comets won their first match before dropping their next two contests. They defeated Columbus West 4-1 on April 1 before losing to Grove City 5-0 on April 2 and Reynoldsburg 5-0 on April 4.
Central Crossing played Canal Winchester on April 8 and faced UA on April 9 to open OCC-Central action.
Bolanos-Cruz continues to shine in throws
Luis Bolanos-Cruz won the shot put for the boys track and field team in the Red Edwards Golden Eagles Relays on April 6.
The senior had an effort of 52 feet, 7 inches in the shot. He also was runner-up in the discus with a 149-7.
Big Walnut was the host team for the meet, which was moved to Sparta Highland because of work being done at the Golden Eagles' track.
The Comets finished seventh (37 points) of 13 teams behind champion Westerville Central (76). Abriana Mann was second in the long jump (14-10 1/2) as the girls team was 12th (5) behind champion Big Walnut (89.44).
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 12 -- At Marysville
April 13 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg (DH)
*April 15 -- At Hilliard Davidson
*April 17 -- Home vs. Davidson
*April 11 -- Home vs. Marysville
April 13 -- Home vs. Lakewood (DH)
*April 15 -- At Davidson
*April 17 -- At Dublin Coffman
*April 11 -- Home vs. Marysville
*April 16 -- At Davidson
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Best of the South-West at Franklin Heights
April 16 -- John Hammond Relays at Hilliard Darby