Jaiden Bryant may be small, but she packs quite a punch at the plate.
Despite standing only 5-foot-5, 130 pounds, the senior shortstop has put up impressive power numbers for the Hilliard Bradley High School softball team.
Bryant hit 11 home runs with 39 RBI and a .898 slugging percentage as a sophomore and had nine home runs, 40 RBI and a 1.141 slugging percentage last season. Through 16 games this season, she had eight homers.
"It comes down to Jaiden's hand speed and having great bat speed," coach Kevin Moody said. "She gets up there and she's aggressive and attacks pitchers' mistakes. She's a really good hitter.
"She works her butt off. She has God-given gifts, but she also isn't taking it for granted. The other kids see that and realize that someone as good as she is still working her butt off to be even better."
Bryant was batting .431 with 16 RBI, 26 runs scored, seven stolen bases, a .961 slugging percentage and a .542 on-base percentage through 15 games for the Jaguars, who were 10-6 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division after beating Worthington Kilbourne 12-3 on April 22.
"I played baseball when I was little up until middle school when (school officials) refused to let me play anymore (because of gender rules), so I was kind of forced into the softball world," Bryant said. "I kind of got thrown into it, basically. Sometimes I do miss baseball, and I think it helped me out.
"Softball is so much different. Everyone is cheering in the dugout all of the time. You should have seen my face on the first day I joined a travel team. You go from guys who are basically silent and sitting on the bench and cheering a little bit to girls who are chanting cheers all the time. The atmosphere is so different. But it was a good change for me and it also helped me in the long run."
Bryant has signed to play at the University of Akron, but wants to continue to improve as she moves closer to graduation.
"I need to work on individual things, like my swing," she said. "Even if I go 4-for-4, I need to work on my swing.
"You still need to get better in every aspect, especially in the field. You always need to work on little things like with my second baseman and get the double play down. That's always important."
Bryant also played basketball for Bradley, but softball always has been her passion.
"Moving side to side really helps in basketball because you don't want a defender to blow right by you and you go side to side playing defense in softball," she said. "Really, that's a part of pretty much any sport. Any sport can complement another. That's why it is so good to be a two- or three-sport athlete."
Entering the week, Bradley remained in contention for its third consecutive OCC-Cardinal title. The Jaguars faced a major test April 24 when they played Delaware, which improved to 10-0 in the league with a 12-2 win over Thomas Worthington on April 22.
"We're hitting our stride and finally getting above .500," Moody said. "We have to shore things up and keep things going."
Bryant said the Jaguars are coming together at the right time.
"I think if we're hitting well, no one can stop us," she said. "Once our offense starts clicking, it's like a snowball effect. Everyone starts to follow, everyone starts hitting."
Planck, Donaldson leading baseball team
Seniors Dalton Planck and Drew Donaldson are leading the offensive attack for the baseball team, which was 10-8 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal after a 5-4 loss to Kilbourne on April 22.
Planck had a team-high .397 batting average with 14 RBI and 11 runs through 17 games, and Donaldson was hitting .385 with nine RBI, 18 runs, five stolen bases and a .492 on-base percentage.
Other key offensive contributors included Luke Wolfgram-Evans, who was batting .315 with seven RBI, nine runs and five stolen bases, and Luke Barren, who was hitting .280 with two home runs, 12 RBI and nine runs.
On the mound, Barren was 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA, 17 strikeouts and five walks in 30 innings, Donaldson was 1-2 with a 1.42 ERA, nine strikeouts and four walks in 19 2/3 innings and Zach Komlosi was 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA, 11 strikeouts and five walks in 17 2/3 innings.
Boys track team shines at Lancaster
The boys track and field team finished third (75 points) in the 11-team Fulton Relays on April 18 at Lancaster, behind the host Golden Gales (102) and Darby (86), winning four events in the process.
The sprint medley relay of Matthew Drovdlic, Ian Howard, Kenyon Richardson and Zeke Bennett won in a program-record 1 minute, 34.83 seconds. Also finishing first were the 400-meter relay of Drovdlic, Howard, David Lamb and Richardson (44.26), the 800 relay of Drovdlic, Lamb, Howard and Bennett (1:30.55) and the 1,600 relay of Richardson, Lamb, Derek Morgan and Bennett (3:27.34).
The girls team finished eighth (34.5) in the Fulton Relays, behind champion Lancaster (116).
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 26 -- At Delaware
*April 29 -- At Dublin Jerome
*May 1 -- Home vs. Jerome
*April 25 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*April 30 -- At Darby
*April 25 -- At Berlin
*April 29 -- Home vs. Darby
*April 25 -- Home vs. Jerome. The Jaguars lost to the Celtics 4-1 on April 10.
*April 29 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Jaguars defeated the Irish 4-1 on April 11.
*April 29 -- At Darby. The Jaguars defeated the Panthers 14-7 on April 15.
April 25 -- Home vs. Davidson
April 30 -- At Olentangy Liberty
May 1 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
TRACK & FIELD
April 30 -- Home vs. Darby and Davidson
*April 25 -- At Delaware. The Jaguars defeated the Pacers 25-22, 25-11, 25-20 on April 8.
April 27 -- At Olentangy Orange with Delaware and Mount Vernon
*April 30 -- Home vs. Jerome. The Jaguars lost to the Celtics 25-19, 24-26, 19-25, 25-22, 15-12 on April 9.