Aly Cox and Claire Melville have been inseparable since they were 5 years old.
The two went to preschool together before their fathers started coaching them in softball, with Melville in the circle and Cox behind the plate.
The roles have continued with the Bexley High School softball program, giving the Lions a solid nucleus that should continue for the next two years.
"We're friends on and off the field," Cox and Melville said in unison.
The sophomore duo always seem to be in sync.
"We have been playing since we were 5, so I know I can trust Aly to catch my pitches and I know her capabilities," Melville said. "I trust her behind the plate."
"Some days she's wild, but other than that she's great to catch," Cox said. "It's weird to catch anyone else."
Through 17 games this spring, Cox was batting .367 with three home runs, 18 RBI, 23 runs, a .433 on-base percentage and a .633 slugging percentage. Melville was batting .377 with 15 RBI, four triples and a .431 on-base percentage.
"Claire has carried us the entire season pitching-wise," first-year coach Jess Sciacca said. "She's our dominant player for defense, and Aly has really helped us this year batting-wise. She has homers and RBI, but we put her in the leadoff spot for her to get as many at-bats as possible."
In the circle, Melville was 7-10 with a 5.86 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 29 walks in 98 innings.
"Being a left-hander throws some batters off, but Claire's determined," Sciacca said. "She has a lot of heart. She's hard on herself, but she keeps pushing through it.
"It takes a special breed to pitch. She throws a fastball and change-up and she keeps the batters off-balance."
While Melville throws left-handed, she bats right-handed. She also is right-handed in basketball and tennis, but writes left-handed.
"I don't know why I do some things left-handed and other things right," she said. "I really like being a pitcher because you always have action. You are always doing something, which I like a lot."
Sciacca said Cox is a dependable catcher who helps limit the opponent's running game.
"Aly has a strong arm and a lot of people don't want to run on her," Sciacca said. "She's a big backstop, stopping 99 percent of the balls. She works hard and doesn't have many passed balls. "She's patient at the plate, she sees the ball well and she's strong. She's not a vocal leader, but she leads by example. Kids see her do what she does and they follow."
The Lions were 7-11 overall and 3-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division and on a seven-game losing streak after falling to Grandview 17-12 on April 22.
"I think the season is going well with all of the players adapting to a new coach," Cox said. "More people have been making plays than they were at the beginning of the season."
Sciacca was an assistant under former coach Rick Wemlinger the three previous seasons. She said having a sophomore battery will play dividends in coming seasons.
"It pushes them and makes them want to get better," she said. "It shows the team that you don't have to be a senior to have a big role on the team. We have a promising future with them."
Price steps down as girls basketball coach
Joshua Price has resigned as girls basketball coach to spend more time with his family.
The Lions were 69-51 in five seasons under Price. Last season, they went 15-10 overall and 6-2 in the MSL-Ohio to place second behind Worthington Christian (7-1) and reached a Division II district semifinal before losing to Granville 34-30.
In 2017-18, Price guided Bexley to its first league championship since 2008.
"This is one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made, but it's the best decision for me and my family," Price said. "I need to focus on being the best husband and father that I can."
The Lions are losing four seniors. The expected returnees include two starters in sophomore point guard Maddy Young, who averaged 9.4 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals and was named honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league last season, and Cox, a guard who averaged 3.4 points.
"We have some great girls coming back, and I'd love to be a part of it," Price said. "I don't plan on being done with coaching altogether, but we'll see when that time comes."
Throwers lead girls at Grandview
The girls track and field team was led by first-place finishes in the throws in the Bobcat Booster Invitational on April 18 at Grandview.
Freddie Collins won the discus (119 feet, 5 inches) and Nya Harris won the shot put (35-4) as the Lions finished third (104 points) of six teams behind Grandview (157) and Mount Gilead (110).
Karleigh Place won the 800 meters (2 minutes, 28.23 seconds). Claire MacDonald (11:58.65) and Maria Steinke (12:16.21) were first and second in the 3,200.
The boys team finished fourth (59) behind champion Grandview (160). The 3,200 relay of Spencer Stevenson, Nicholas Hall, Miles Feinknopf and Grant Halliday won in 8:36.65.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 26 -- Home vs. DeSales
April 30 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
April 26 -- Home vs. St. Charles
April 30 -- Home vs. Watterson
*April 25 -- Home vs. Wellington
April 29 -- At Westerville Central
May 1 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
April 25 -- At Whetstone
April 26 -- Home vs. Wellington
*April 29 -- At Worthington Christian. The Lions lost to the Warriors 14-4 (5 innings) on April 8 and 15-4 (5 innings) on April 17.
April 30 -- Home vs. Watterson
May 1 -- At Ready
*April 25 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
April 29 -- Home vs. Delaware
*April 30 -- At Wellington
May 1 -- At Olentangy
TRACK & FIELD
April 27 -- Anthony Wilson Invitational at Franklin Heights
April 29 -- Home quad
May 1 -- At Columbus School for Girls