Samantha Peters and Samantha Zungri both know their roles on the Canal Winchester High School softball team.
Then again, on some days they do not.
The two sophomores are listed as both pitchers and utility players on the Indians' roster, and coach Casey Whitlatch takes full advantage of their versatility.
Peters is a catcher, first baseman, pitcher, shortstop and third baseman and Zungri plays every position except catcher, roles they thoroughly embrace.
Canal Winchester was 10-6 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Groveport on April 24.
"(Whitlatch) will tell me I'll pitch some or be wherever else they need me," Zungri said. "I probably feel most at home in the outfield. I've been out there a lot lately and I enjoy it. When I first started, I was a shortstop, but I grew away from it. It can be a little confusing some days because I never know where I'm going to go, but I always have to be ready no matter where I am."
According to Whitlatch, a variety of factors come into play when he is making out the day's lineup, including the opponent and where to place Peters and Zungri in the order to create a balance between left- and right-handed hitters. He consults with his assistant coaches in the process.
Whitlatch first realized Peters' and Zungri's versatility long before being hired as coach in July 2017.
"Last year, you could tell those two were able to play multiple positions, but I saw it when they were little when I was an umpire and they playing at the VFW over in Lithopolis," Whitlatch said. "I got to see them then and knew they could do a lot. The thing with where to play them depends on who we're facing, how we want to match up and showing other teams something different."
Zungri had a team-best .472 batting average with 25 hits through 16 games. Peters was second with a .463 average and 25 hits, including a three-run home run in the first inning of an 8-6 home loss to Newark on April 18.
In the circle through 16 games, Peters was 4-2 with a 5.65 ERA, nine walks and 20 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings and Zungri was 4-2 with a 4.36 ERA, 21 walks and 19 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings.
"I'll get out to the field and I'll always ask, 'Where am I at today?' but I love the responsibility," Peters said. "I love being in positions that have a lot of responsibility and require a lot of leadership on the field. Being a pitcher, you run the game. The catcher runs everything and the shortstop runs the infield. I like having that power. I like having that control on the field."
Zungri had four hits in as many at-bats in a 14-4, five-inning win over Franklin Heights on April 15. Two days earlier, she had four hits in a 12-6 win over Licking Valley and Peters pitched 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.
"If there are at least one or two people able to go around and play wherever the team needs, that can be a huge thing," said Zungri, who credited her offensive approach to lessons from former Nebraska player and Ohio State head coach Ali Viola. "(Viola) has helped me out with my mental and physical state. Mentally, I just can't get into my own head when I'm at the plate."
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Indians already have surpassed their win total from last season, when they finished 8-13. They followed up their victory over Franklin Heights with an 11-9 win at New Albany on April 17 in which they pounded out 17 hits and used a five-run fifth inning to pull ahead for good.
"The confidence the girls are building is great to see," Whitlatch said. "In the league, we've got to do better (than last season's 2-8 record). If that happens, we can do a lot with this season."
Chapman to coach girls basketball team
During his search for a girls basketball coach, athletics director Pat Durbin asked several Indians players what they wanted in the hire.
"I didn't ask them who they wanted, but what they wanted," Durbin said. "They laid out about 11 characteristics, such as work ethic, discipline and overall character. And (our hire) checked out on everything they wanted."
Mark Chapman will be Canal Winchester's next coach, pending school board approval. He replaces Hillary Kessler, who led the Indians on an interim basis for 21 of their 25 games last season after Willie Jordan was placed on administrative leave in early December because of allegations of inappropriate conduct.
Jordan was in his fifth season as coach.
Chapman was an assistant on boys basketball coach Lyndell Snyder's staff last season. He previously coached the boys team at Hamilton Township for six seasons and was an assistant girls coach with the Rangers and Liberty Union before that.
"We had 25 applicants and interviewed nine, with some very good candidates in there, but Mark separated himself throughout the process," Durbin said. "It was just his plan, his vision, his commitment to create a great culture and grow numbers in our elementary and middle school programs. I'm really excited. He has a good nucleus to build around."
Canal Winchester went 13-10 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Capital last season. The Indians' top three scorers are eligible to return in juniors Natalie Rarick (12.1 points, 5.4 rebounds), Amanda Rarick (10.7 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Shalea Byrd (8.6 points, 11.3 rebounds).
Track teams prep for annual invitational
Defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central is among the seven boys track and field teams scheduled to compete in the Indians' annual Milt Will Invitational on Friday, April 26.
Among the Tigers' top athletes are Ohio State recruit Evan Matthews, the defending state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, and senior sprinter Denzell Feagin, who competed for Canal Winchester as a freshman and sophomore.
The Indians have had solid sprinters of their own this season, as Korbin Martino owned the area's second-best time in the 400 (48.85 seconds), .06 of a second behind Matthews, and the sixth-best time in the 200 (22.16) in last week's area honor roll. Canal Winchester's 800 relay (1:27.91) and 1,600 relay (3:24.59) both were ranked first in the area.
The Central girls team, which features Jaydan Wood, an Ohio State recruit and the defending state champion in the 400, also is scheduled to participate in the Milt Will Invitational, as are the boys and girls teams for Columbus Academy, Fairfield Union, Groveport, New Albany and Pickerington North.
North swept the team titles at last year's meet while both Canal Winchester teams finished second.
The Indians swept the team titles in the Elmo Kallner Invitational on April 20 at Hamilton Township. The boys finished first (133) of 12 teams, ahead of runner-up Groveport (109), and girls were first (112) of 13 teams, ahead of runner-up Teays Valley (91).
Football players make college decisions
Five football players recently announced their college decisions.
Jared Bulluck will play for Thomas More, Bryce Eisnaugle will play at Ohio Wesleyan, Wally Kalinowski will play at Heidelberg, Chris Ryan will play at Marietta and Dez Turkson will play at Capital.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 26 -- Home vs. Newark
*April 29 -- At Newark
*May 1 -- At Big Walnut. The Indians defeated the Golden Eagles 3-2 on April 8 and lost 2-1 in nine innings on April 5.
*April 25 -- At Franklin Heights. The Indians defeated the Falcons 14-1 on April 15.
*April 29 -- Home vs. New Albany. The Indians defeated the Eagles 11-9 on April 17.
*May 1 -- At Newark. The Indians lost to the Wildcats 8-6 on April 18.
April 25 -- Home vs. Grove City
April 30 -- Home vs. Walnut Ridge
May 1 -- At Whitehall
TRACK & FIELD
April 26 -- Milt Will Invitational at home
April 30 -- Home vs. Pickerington North and Teays Valley