The pressure that comes with being a leadoff hitter can shake even the best of hitters, but Hailey Krinn of the Big Walnut High School softball team wouldn't have it any other way.
"I like being the first one to go up and see the pitcher," the junior third baseman said. "For some reason, it makes me feel calm. I get a little bit nervous when I'm down in the lineup. I just like getting things started for the team."
Krinn's performance at the plate has helped the Golden Eagles get off to their best start in Jeff Hatfield's 13 seasons as coach. Big Walnut was 9-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing at New Albany on April 11.
Through six games, Krinn was hitting .591 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBI and nine runs scored.
She combined to go 5-for-7 at the plate with two home runs, a triple and eight RBI in victories over Olentangy (16-5 on April 1) and Whetstone (17-2 on April 2), including a grand slam against Whetstone.
"I really like her in the leadoff spot because she has a lot of power, and she gets on (base)," Hatfield said. "She is just a fighter. She will battle you all the way in the count. She's been our spark plug."
Hatfield likes his batters to be aggressive, swinging at first-pitch strikes, and so does Krinn. Her mental game has improved at the plate this season, she said.
"I've become more aware of what kind of pitches I'm getting and where I want to drive them in the field," Krinn said. "I usually go up to the plate with a thought, 'I'm looking for this pitch and I'm going to take it to this place in the field.' "
In addition to Krinn, Hatfield's lineup featured three other hitters who were batting better than .500 through six games in outfielder Jocelyn Lucas (.647, 2 doubles, triple, 11 RBI), catcher Molly Sharpe (.579, 2 doubles, triple, home run, 10 RBI) and shortstop Arielle Brown (.522, 10 RBI).
Three others were hitting better than .400 in second baseman Alyssa Tarney (.476, double, triple, 3 RBI) and pitchers Sierra Perry (.429) and Autumn Imhoff (.429), as Big Walnut was batting .472 as a team.
"Usually, we're a team that starts off slow (hitting-wise), but not this year," Hatfield said.
Girls track team wins Golden Eagle Relays
The girls track and field team won the Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays championship for the first time in six years.
Big Walnut scored 89.5 points in the 13-team meet April 6 at Sparta Highland to edge runner-up Westerville Central (82.5). Watterson (55.4) finished third.
"The girls were amazing. We broke two school records, the discus relay won the event for the fifth year in a row, we used 30 different athletes, scored in 13 of the 14 events and had four champions and four runners-up, all resulting in our first (Golden Eagle Relays) title since 2013," coach Joe Evener said on the school's athletics website.
The distance medley relay of Anna Leichtnam, Grace Unger, Chole McKenzie and Colbi Borland finished first in a school-record 9 minutes, 46.99 seconds, and the 6,400-meter relay of Borland, Alina Pecci, Grace Grunewald and Adelee Gartner won in a school-record 22:30.88.
Also finishing first were the discus relay of Grace Weber, Megan Mosher and Cindy Schlaegel (264 feet, 4 inches) and the shuttle hurdles relay of Gretchen Houser, Cindy Serna, Melanie Sena and MacKenna Ames (1:10.6).
Placing second were the high jump relay of Natalie Fuchs, Meredith Seiple and Sydney Foxworthy (13-8), the pole vault relay of Annika Anderson, Kat Brammer and Abby Spangenberg (21-6), the 800 relay of Hannah Pinkston, Hannah Unger, Lindsey Luchsinger and Sierra Sanders (1:51.22) and the 3,200 relay of Pecci, Grunewald, Madi Yano and Gartner (10:18.86).
On April 10, Big Walnut scored 89 points to defeat Delaware (52) and host Marion Harding (34) in a tri-meet.
The boys team fell short in its bid for its fifth consecutive Golden Eagle Relays title, as it scored 58 points to tie Olentangy Berlin for third behind Westerville Central (76) and Worthington Kilbourne (71).
The Golden Eagles finished third in the 1,600 relay (3:44.91) and fourth in the 6,400 relay (21:47.32). Individually, Jackson Podraza won the high jump (6-5), Mark Ruffing placed fourth in both the discus (132-5) and shot put (44-1/2) and Mitchell Truax (12-0) and Josh Halbakken (12-0) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault.
Baseball team falling short in one-run games
The baseball team suffered its third consecutive one-run loss April 10 when it fell to host New Albany 4-3 in eight innings.
It was the fourth one-run loss of the season for Big Walnut, which was 6-5 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing host to New Albany on April 12.
Wes Coey had a strong outing on the mound, allowing only one earned run on seven hits in five innings, while Craig Norman, Matt Evans and Ryne Conley each had two hits.
The Golden Eagles lost 3-2 in a league game at Canal Winchester on April 8, with the Indians hitting a walk-off double, and lost 6-5 at home against DeSales on April 6.
Against Canal Winchester, Carson Becker hit a two-run triple in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2.