Thomas Worthington High School baseball coach Chris Olson is hoping a recent surge will boost his young team's confidence and development.
After losing their first seven games, the Cardinals were 4-11 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Berlin on April 24.
"We are a very young team with only one senior, so most of these guys are learning what it takes to win at the varsity level," Olson said. "We lost five of our first eight games by only one run. ... So now that we have experienced winning, our team is going to continue to grow and improve.
"We have six juniors, three sophomores and a freshman playing pretty significant innings, so the more they feel comfortable with the speed of the game, the more we will continue to progress."
Thomas lost to Hilliard Bradley 5-4 on April 8 and 4-3 on April 10 in league games and fell to Olentangy Orange 6-5 on April 6, Pickerington Central 5-4 on April 6 and Kettering Fairmont 5-4 on April 13 in non-league games.
"We've had a lot of close losses and some others that we were right in the game until late, like against Pickerington North (a 10-5 loss on April 20) when we led 5-4 into the sixth inning," junior third baseman and pitcher Caden Kirker said. "We had won four of the previous five games before (losing to) Delaware (4-1 on April 17) and Pickerington North. We are playing a lot better.
"The younger guys are coming around and we've got more people beginning to do their share. If we can execute better with two outs on offense, we can continue to improve our record and gain confidence."
Through 12 games, Kirker was hitting .390 with 10 runs scored in the third spot in the batting order. Junior shortstop Will Pischel, batting leadoff, was hitting .304 with 10 runs, seven stolen bases and seven RBI and junior first baseman and pitcher George Erickson was hitting .353 with seven RBI.
"We're learning how to win," Pischel said. "We're running the bases better, running smarter and getting a few more timely hits, and that's been the difference. Caden has really stepped up at the plate and on the mound and George had been playing well, but recently got hurt.
"Nathan Borghese has done great in center field and he was a nice addition to the team (who) transferred from DeSales, and Austin Parsons has been solid on the mound and also has played well in the outfield."
Pischel and Kirker, who had the most varsity experience entering the season, have tried to help the young players.
"Josh Rock is a freshman who is doing a great job with his approach at the plate and is doing well in the outfield and he's not afraid of anything," Kirker said. "Brayden Lanter is a sophomore catcher and is starting to come around real well at the plate. Patrick Shirey is a sophomore (pitcher) who is throwing strikes and letting the defense play behind him."
Through 12 games, Parsons was 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and Kirker was 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA.
"On the mound, Caden has really shown great improvement and is throwing the ball well right now and Austin has been very consistent," Olson said. "Caden and Will have really stepped up offensively and we're starting to get better production throughout the order.
"I just want to see us continue to improve every day. ... I want us to be playing our best baseball by the end of the season, and hopefully be able to make a run during the (Division I district) tournament."
Boys lacrosse team preps to face Wolves
The boys lacrosse team will close OCC-Cardinal play Tuesday, April 30, at Kilbourne.
The Cardinals have shown improvement under second-year coach John Haldeman after finishing 5-14 last season. They were 7-5 overall and 2-2 in the league before playing Berlin on April 23.
Thomas will play host to Hilliard Darby on Thursday, April 25, on senior night.
The Cardinals defeated Bradley 9-3 on April 9, lost to Dublin Jerome 16-6 on April 11 and beat Dublin Scioto 19-5 on April 16.
Against Scioto, Cole McDermott and Zak Schontiutt both scored three goals and Nick McCarthy, Carson Smith and Cole Stiver each scored two. McCarthy and Bennett Fischbach both scored two goals against Jerome, and Fischbach, McDermott and Smith each scored two against Bradley.
Track teams getting set for home meet
The track and field teams will play host to the annual Gary Smith Invitational on Saturday, April 27.
Also scheduled to compete are Athens, Beechcroft, Central Crossing, Granville, Hartley, Kilbourne, Marysville, Northland, Scioto, Teays Valley, Thornville Sheridan, Whetstone and Whitehall.
Last season, the girls team won the 15-team Gary Smith Invitational, scoring 106 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Scioto (87), while the boys team finished sixth (53.3) behind champion Sheridan (112).
Athletes announce college decisions
Thirteen student-athletes recently announced their college decisions.
Tori Banks will play women's lacrosse at Liberty, Kyler Block will play men's basketball at Capital, Habib Bundu will play football at Tiffin, Haley Byrnes will play women's basketball at Bluffton, Sydney Eaton will compete in women's rowing at Robert Morris, Andrew Gao will play men's soccer at Pomona, Charlotte Kline will play women's ice hockey at Paul Smith's College, Jonah Kuntz will play men's soccer at Tampa, Khava Morris will compete in women's cross country at Dominican, Gia Napoleon will compete in women's track and field at Ohio State, Kemauni Payton will play men's lacrosse at Limestone, Amia Samuels will play women's basketball at Alderson Broaddus and Zach Schonhiutt will play men's lacrosse at Otterbein.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 26 -- At Olentangy Berlin
*April 29 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*May 1 -- At Dublin Scioto
*April 25 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 30 -- At Kilbourne
*April 25 -- At Hilliard Darby
*April 30 -- At Columbus Academy
*April 25 -- At Dublin Scioto. The Cardinals lost to the Irish 15-10 on April 10.
April 27 -- At Hilliard Davidson with Westerville North
*April 29 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby. The Cardinals lost to the Panthers 12-2 on April 11.
April 30 -- At Westerville Central
*May 1 -- At Kilbourne. The Cardinals beat the Wolves 8-5 on April 15.
April 27 -- Worthington Cup at Kilbourne
May 1 -- At Columbus Academy
TRACK & FIELD
April 27 -- Gary Smith Invitational at home
*April 25 -- At Olentangy Berlin. The Cardinals beat the Bears 25-15, 25-15, 18-25, 25-16 on April 8.
*April 30 -- At Dublin Scioto. The Cardinals lost to the Irish 18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 on April 9.