Jake Hollar's time as a high school center fielder came to an end with a head-first slide into third base during a summer travel game last June.
The fateful slide knocked Hollar's right shoulder out of place, leading to surgery as well as a move to second base for his senior season with the Grandview Heights baseball team.
As a junior, Hollar batted .376 with 17 RBI, a .467 on-base percentage and team highs in runs (33) and stolen bases (16). He hasn't slowed down this spring, helping the Bobcats to an 8-0 record entering this week.
"I have probably hurt my (right) shoulder eight times or more," said Hollar, who throws right-handed. "This is the second surgery on the shoulder. I had it July 5 last year, a couple weeks after the injury.
"I was picked off first base and I was in a pickle (between first and second) and ended up being safe at second when they threw the ball into center field. I decided to take third and when I dove in ... I'm really not sure what happened. I probably jammed my arm on the base and (my shoulder) came out. I couldn't get it to go back in on the field so I went to the hospital and ended up later having surgery."
Hollar wasn't cleared to throw until practice started Feb. 18. He had played soccer and basketball in his first three years at Grandview, but rested his shoulder this school year until being able to play baseball.
"I lost strength in my arm," he said. "I'm not supposed to have full strength for a whole year from the date of the surgery.
"Sometimes it still hurts me when I throw. I can be warming up ... and if I throw too many times or too hard, it's game over for my shoulder. I haven't missed any games yet this year because of it. Hopefully, I won't miss any at all."
Through eight games, Hollar was batting .385 with 11 walks and no strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. He had scored 16 runs with eight stolen bases, two RBI and a .692 on-base percentage.
"Jake is intense. He's a gamer, and he rises to the occasion," coach Tyler Fitzgerald said. "If we need a clutch hit, if we need a stolen base, he's our guy. He's grown up playing three sports, and he loves to compete and loves to win."
Hollar said the move to second base wasn't difficult since he was playing the position in summer ball before his injury. He said the throws obviously are shorter but he has taught himself how to throw the ball smarter.
"I have been throwing a lot more with my body, which I should have been always been doing," he said. "I had been throwing with my arm too much before.
"All of my joints are prone to popping out. They are very weak and they have trouble holding together. It's happened to my fingers a few times, but those have been pretty easy to get back in place. They're a lot easier to handle than the shoulder."
The Bobcats began MSL-Ohio Division play April 8 against Worthington Christian. Hollar said the hot start for the team was great, but the players had more in mind than just being strong out of the gate.
"I definitely want to win the league," Hollar said. "We really want to win the league, and we think we have a good chance to do that."
Fitzgerald has been pleased, especially since the Bobcats finished 6-19 as recently as 2016. They were 14-14 last season.
"When I took over the program, we were coming off a six-win season (6-17 in 2014) and then we were back to six a couple years later," said Fitzgerald, whose program's last winning record came in 2009 at 20-8. "We can't take any opponent for granted. We have to come to the ballpark ready to play. The competition will only get tougher and tougher as the season goes on."
Through eight games, senior Gavin Van Horn was batting .762 with nine RBI and 17 runs, and junior Joey Bertani was hitting .577 with 20 RBI and 13 runs. Senior Liam O'Connor was batting .500 with eight RBI and six runs, and senior Jon Vetter was hitting .400 with 10 RBI and six runs.
Boys tennis team wins four of first five matches
The boys tennis team was 4-1 overall and 0-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Whitehall on April 9.
The Bobcats defeated Bloom-Carroll 5-0 on March 26 and Hamilton Township 4-1 on March 27 before losing their league opener against Worthington Christian 3-2 on April 2. They defeated Canal Winchester on April 3 and Whetstone on April 4, both by 3-2 scores.
Through five matches, Murphy Horning was 4-1 playing both second and third singles. The first-doubles team of Keegan Kearney and Patrick Rowland was 4-0, and Bryan Gilleland and Connor Hayes were 3-0 at second doubles.
Softball team looks to end losing streak
The softball team won its opener 22-2 in five innings against Briggs on March 26, but then dropped its next seven games.
The Bobcats were 1-7 overall and 0-2 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Whitehall on April 8. They lost to Bexley 12-1 in five innings April 1 and Worthington Christian 9-3 on April 3 in league play.
Through eight games, junior Claire Bower was batting .500 with four runs and three stolen bases. Junior Jenna Richards was hitting .389 with five runs and 10 stolen bases, and junior Marissa Tose was batting .294 with four runs and three RBI.
Mehling resigns as wrestling coach
Sam Mehling resigned April 1 as coach of the wrestling program after five seasons.
"Sam and his family are having a third child, and he's getting more responsibilities with his job," athletics director Brad Bertani said. "He's been coaching for nine years, (including his time as an assistant), so he felt it was time. He still might help out as a volunteer but that has yet to be determined."
The Bobcats had success at the Division III state tournament with Mehling at the helm. Senior Hudson Jump won titles at 220 pounds this season and 195 last year while Brendan Fitzgerald, a 2016 graduate now competing at Ohio State, was runner-up at 138 as a senior.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 15 -- At Bexley
*April 17 -- Home vs. Bexley
April 11 -- At West Jefferson
*April 15 -- At Worthington Christian. The Bobcats lost to the Warriors 10-3 on April 3.
*April 17 -- Home vs. Whitehall
April 12 -- At Jonathan Alder
April 17 -- Home vs. Ready
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Russ Owen Bexley Relays