The Dublin Coffman High School softball team hopes the payoff from a challenging non-league schedule is still to come this spring.
Even though their overall record has been hovering around .500, the Shamrocks find themselves in the thick of the OCC-Central Division championship race.
Coffman was 10-10 overall and tied with Upper Arlington and Marysville for first in the league at 5-1 after beating Hilliard Davidson 8-1 on April 22.
"I intentionally scheduled one of the toughest non-league schedules around," coach Scott Tillman said. "There's not a lot of breathing room. We were tied or within one run in (nearly) every single game going into the sixth inning. Our real goal is the conference title."
Coffman went 4-2 on its spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in late March. Its non-league schedule also has included defending OCC-Ohio champion Lancaster (a 9-5 loss on April 2), defending OCC-Capital co-champion Delaware (an 8-4 loss on April 9), CCL title contender Watterson (a 5-2 loss on April 6) and Big Walnut (a 9-6 loss on April 8), which was ninth in last week's Division II state poll.
On April 15, the Shamrocks defeated Marysville 8-7, marking their first victory over the Monarchs during Tillman's six-year tenure.
Coffman lost 10-1 to UA on April 18.
Through 18 games, Caroline Stuckey had a team-high .480 batting average with 23 runs scored, Allie Kelly was hitting .393 with 16 RBI, Taylor Airy was batting .391 with 16 RBI, Rylee Anspach was batting .389 with six home runs, 18 runs and 25 RBI, Sophie Maggs was batting .364, Marley McDonald was hitting .356 with one home run and 18 RBI and Avery Ketch was batting .347.
In the circle, Kelsi Anderson was 8-5 with 81 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.
"Our infield play, which was spotty at the beginning of the season, has really picked up," Tillman said. "We've been in some pressure situations, but we're starting to handle those things a little better."
Baseball team plans to stay in title race
The baseball team was 11-4 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central before facing Central Crossing on April 24.
The Shamrocks' only league loss came against Marysville, 8-5 on April 15, but they avenged that defeat two days later when senior pitcher Luke Bartemes tossed a six-hitter in a 1-0 victory.
"It looks like it's going to be a three-team race between us, (Upper) Arlington and Marysville," coach Tim Saunders said. "We've had probably three bad innings (all season). (Bartemes) came in on the first day and was one of our top hitters. He's just solid and gets the job done. His bat is phenomenal and his pitching is good."
Through 14 games, Bartemes was hitting .415 with nine RBI and was 3-0 on the mound with a 0.58 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 24 innings.
Other offensive leaders included Alex Dluzynski (.429, 8 RBI), Nathan Kassis (.409), James Bartman (10 RBI) and Matt Dorenkott (10 RBI).
Ryan Ebeling was 1-2 with a 1.52 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 innings for Coffman, which had a 2.15 team ERA through 14 games.
Ben Hall and Matt Hunter also have been throwing key innings, according to Saunders.
"We've got a lot of leaders," Saunders said. "When you have introverts, it's tough. You've got different maturity levels and one thing we learned from (the loss to) Marysville was that they had more energy than we did. When you have more energy, you play better. You've got to play with some emotion."
Track teams prep for stretch run
The track and field teams have two weeks of preparation before competing in the OCC-Central meet May 9 and 11 at Davidson.
On April 19 in the seven-team Freedom Relays at Olentangy Liberty, the girls finished fourth (35 points) behind the champion and host Patriots (76) and the boys were sixth (25) behind champion Liberty (63).
The sprint medley relay of Eli Young-Peters, SeRaye Bray, Katelyn Brand and Abigail Collier placed second (2 minutes, 3.12 seconds) to lead the girls team.
Placing second for the boys squad were the 400 relay of Michael Ching, Jameel Williamson, Joshua Page and Dustin Drye (45.59), Michael Messer in the discus (127 feet, 11 inches) and Derek Van Vlerah in the high jump (5-8).
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
April 25 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 26 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*April 29 -- Home vs. UA
*May 1 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*April 25 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*May 1 -- At UA
*April 25 -- At Pickerington North
*April 30 -- Home vs. UA
*April 25 -- At Marysville. The Shamrocks beat the Monarchs 8-7 on April 15.
*April 29 -- At Central Crossing. The Shamrocks beat the Comets 13-8 on April 17.
*May 1 -- Home vs. UA. The Shamrocks lost to the Golden Bears 10-1 on April 18.
April 25 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
April 29 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
TRACK & FIELD
April 25 -- At Davidson with Central Crossing
April 29 -- Home vs. Gahanna
*April 25 -- Home vs. Davidson. The Shamrocks beat the Wildcats 25-9, 25-22, 25-18 on April 8.
April 29 -- At St. Charles
*April 30 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Shamrocks beat the Raiders 25-11, 25-14, 25-17 on April 9.