The 'tide is turning' for the Groveport Madison High School baseball team.
The Cruisers opened the season with four consecutive losses but were 7-7 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Newark on April 24.
Sparking the surge has been junior shortstop Austin Snyder, who led the Cruisers in hitting (.432), hits (19), runs scored (15) and stolen bases (17) and was second on the team with seven RBI through 13 games.
"Austin is very athletic and the perfect leadoff batter," coach Chris McKee said. "He's also a great leader and a strong shortstop. Being a four-sport athlete, he's very competitive and not afraid of being in key situations."
In the fall, Snyder is a striker on the boys soccer team as well as a kicker and punter for the football team. He bowls for the Cruisers during the winter.
"My goal is to graduate with 14 letters and I will have 10 going into my senior season," Snyder said. "My great grandfather, Mac Sims, has the record for most letters at Groveport Madison with 27. He graduated in 1939 and I never met him and I don't think it's possible to even reach close to his total these days.
"But when the football team came to me at my soccer practice as a freshman and wanted me to kick, I finally gave in and was their kicker in the second half of the season. That's when I first thought about seeing how many letters I could earn. If things go right, I should finish with 14 and that would be the second-highest total (at Groveport)."
Snyder said his older brothers got him to switch his focus from football to soccer, which he began playing when he was 6 years old.
"The one thing about me is that when I decide to play, I want to be the best I can be," he said. "I love soccer the most, but I work hard at all of (the sports). I learned to be a leader on the soccer field and I also try to carry that over into every sport I play.
"Soccer and football are similar in that you really have to trust your teammates and it's such a great time when the team succeeds. Baseball and bowling, you have teammates, but it's individualized. Your teammates can't help you in a batter's box or when the ball is hit to you, or on the bowling lanes."
Snyder, who has a 4.0 GPA, has been named all-league three times in soccer, including first-team honors last fall. He also was second-team all-league in football last fall when he averaged 39.1 yards per punt in his first season as a punter. New Albany's Michael O'Shaughnessy, an Ohio State signee, was the first-team punter.
Snyder was named honorable mention all-league in baseball last spring and he's looking forward to the remainder of this season.
"We got a huge win over Canal Winchester (8-7 on April 10) and surprised everyone by beating New Albany (4-1 on April 15)," Snyder said. "(New Albany was) unbeaten and the top-ranked team in the state (by MaxPreps.com) at the time. I think that showed us that we can compete with anyone."
McKee said he has seen his team's confidence rise.
"Our confidence has really grown and that's important for a young team," he said. "We only have one senior on the roster and to see these guys prove it to themselves and everyone else is very gratifying. We've got a bunch of great athletes and they're putting it together and buying in.
"The tide is turning at Groveport Madison. We're becoming a well-jelled team that cares about each other and fights until the last out. I couldn't be happier and prouder of them these past few weeks. But now we've got to continue to build onto this. We're going to pass some of these tests and fail some of these tests, but we'll come through stronger and I'm just so encouraged."
In addition to Snyder, senior Logan Marburger and juniors Austin Gautier, Trey Mantle, Robby Morgan and Jeremiah Slonaker have been other key offensive contributors for the Cruisers, according to McKee.
Through 13 games, Slonaker was hitting .359 with eight runs, Gautier had a team-best eight RBI and had scored eight runs and Marburger had eight stolen bases.
"Slonaker is smacking the ball and Morgan is just coming back from a back injury and he's catching every third game and playing third base," Snyder said. "Gautier is strong behind the plate, giving us clutch hits, and Mantle is beginning to poke the ball. It's exciting to think about the way things are going."
On the mound, Tyler McKee was 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA, Mantle was 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA and Colin Rice was 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA.
Softball team cruises into week
The softball team had won six consecutive games and was 13-4 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Canal Winchester on April 24.
After losing to Central Crossing 5-4 on April 8, the Cruisers defeated Franklin Heights 21-0 on April 10, Canal Winchester 18-4 on April 11, New Albany 5-0 on April 15, Newark 8-6 on April 17 and Big Walnut 4-2 on April 18.
Through 13 games, Macie Sporleder was hitting .545 with 22 RBI, Lanie White was batting .489 with 20 RBI, five home runs and 22 runs, Lexie Wright was hitting .451 with 19 runs, Kendyll Cahill was batting .444 with 16 RBI and three home runs, Gabby Adams was batting .417 with 22 RBI and four home runs and MacKenzie Maddy was hitting .360 with 19 runs.
In the circle, Ally Maddy was 6-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 48 1/3 innings and Cahill was 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 33 2/3 innings.
Track teams prep for Milt Will Invitational
The track and field teams will compete in the seven-team Milt Will Invitational on Friday, April 26, at Canal Winchester.
Also expected to participate are the host Indians, Columbus Academy, Fairfield Union, New Albany, Pickerington Central and Pickerington North.
Groveport competed in the 16-team Gahanna Relays on April 17. The boys team finished sixth (38.33 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (115) as the 1,600-meter relay of Carl Allen, Tyrell Floyd, Tahzmere Givens and Rafael Soler placed second (3 minutes, 27.15 seconds).
Finishing third were the 800 relay of Kahari Davis, Naseem Bowers, Floyd and Allen (1:31.31), the 3,200 relay of Peyton Baker, Illyaas Haji, Kaleb Wilson and Soler (8:43.2), Raychaun Whitfield in the high jump (5 feet, 10 inches) and John Motton in the long jump (19-1/4).
The girls team finished 12th (20) in the Gahanna Relays behind the host and champion Lions (147).
The 800 relay of Atanna Gunnell, Chenise Smith, Emily Allen and Madi Young placed second (1:48) and the sprint medley relay of Gunnell, Emani Anthony, Amara Towns and Victoria Williams was fourth (1:55.26).
Groveport competed in the Elmo Kallner Invitational on April 20 at Hamilton Township, with the boys team placing second (109) of 12 teams, behind Canal Winchester (133). Winning titles were Givens in the 110 hurdles (16.41) and 300 hurdles (41.88), Soler in the 800 (2:03.74) and Haji in the 3,200 (10:04.97).
The girls team did not win any events and finished eighth (35) of 13 teams, behind champion Canal Winchester (112).
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 26 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
*April 29 -- At Big Walnut
May 1 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights. The Cruisers beat the Falcons 1-0 on April 5 and 12-0 on April 8.
*April 25 -- At New Albany. The Cruisers beat the Eagles 5-0 on April 15.
*May 1 -- At Big Walnut. The Cruisers beat the Golden Eagles 4-2 on April 18.
May 1 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
TRACK & FIELD
April 26 -- Milt Will Invitational at Canal Winchester
April 29 -- Home vs. Logan Elm