J.J. Carr gave up one of his loves for another.
The senior three-year starter for the Central Crossing High School baseball team stopped playing hockey after he committed to competing on the diamond for Salem International University in West Virginia.
Although Carr missed the physical play of being a defenseman for the Hilliard club program, he's happy to be contributing for the Comets this spring in a variety of ways.
"I really missed playing hockey because I had done it from when I was in the third grade until my junior year, but after signing with Salem I didn't want to take any risks," Carr said. "I wish I would have been out there this year. I went to some games to watch my guys play, but everything worked out in the long run.
"There's nothing better than being out there (on the field) with your friends on a 100-degree day in the summer and playing baseball. I have so many memories with my teammates here (at Central Crossing) and from summer ball. I'll have connections with all of the guys all of my life."
Carr is a corner infielder and pitcher who coach Scott Todd said brings a competitive edge that is good for the program. The Comets were 10-7 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Westland on April 29 and 30.
"J.J. is very versatile and brings a lot of varsity experience for us," Todd said. "He brings competitiveness. Being on varsity for the last three seasons, he brings a lot of baseball knowledge and experience to some of the younger guys in the program.
"He's helping us on the mound and by being our four-hole hitter. He's the guy we are counting on to come through with guys on base and with the big hits in the clutch to drive guys in."
Carr said playing hockey has helped him in many aspects of baseball.
"Hockey complements baseball in terms of the legs and the core," he said. "Skating requires a lot of balance and leg strength, and in order to be a productive baseball player in pitching or throwing, it all comes from the legs and from the core."
Through 17 games, Carr was batting .292 with 15 RBI, nine runs, four doubles and a .414 on-base percentage. He had struck out only twice in 58 plate appearances.
"J.J. has become one of the best hitters on the team and he's become a clutch hitter," Todd said. "He's very, very competitive and he strives to be perfect, which is something you cannot do in baseball, but you can strive to do that.
"He has good physical strength and he does a very good job of getting pitches when he's ahead in the count. Sometimes what gets him in trouble is if he gets too aggressive on the first pitch and it's an off-speed pitch. He'll get down 0-1 or 1-2, and that's where he has to have more plate discipline. But if he's in a hitter's count and you give him a fastball he'll get his hands to where he's going to hit the ball pretty hard. The ball jumps off his bat."
Carr said he tries to take a simple approach at the plate, looking for a ball to drive while also trying to see as many pitches as possible.
"I've improved on the inside edge (of the plate) in terms of hitting," he said. "In my sophomore year and even early last year, pitchers were able to come inside and jam me, and now I can get my hands through and drive it down the line. I did a lot of work barreling the ball up with the tee on the inside of the plate. I also worked to get my arms and forearms stronger so I could make the bat whip through the zone."
Carr has struggled on the mound this spring. He was 1-1 with a 6.42 ERA through 12 innings.
"Sometimes he's too hard on himself when things aren't going his way, but he does a good job of bouncing back in his next at-bat or his next pitch on the mound," Todd said. "He has been trying to take the team on his shoulders and take us to where we want to go."
Carr has a 4.15 GPA and plans to study accounting or history at Salem.
"Coach Todd has taught me a lot," Carr said. "As a sophomore coming up on varsity I was really nervous. He made it clear my freshman year when I was dressing for the playoffs that the next level was going to be bigger and faster and way more competitive. He helped instill the competitive edge not just in me but in the whole team in general."
Softball team opens tourney with Thomas
The softball team will play host to 38th-seeded Thomas Worthington on Monday, May 6, in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Comets are seeded 34th. The winner plays at second-seeded Mount Vernon on Wednesday, May 8, in the second round.
"I think it's a good draw to play at home against Thomas Worthington in the first round," said coach Rona Dorsey, whose team was 3-13 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Central before playing Dublin Coffman on April 29. "If we get through the first game, Mount Vernon will be a tough draw, but it was going to be tough no matter where we would have gone (on the bracket)."
The Comets also play Bloom-Carroll and Jonathan Alder on Saturday, May 4, in the Gahanna Showcase.
Through 15 games, Cheyenne Scott led the Comets in batting average (.540), runs (25), triples (5), stolen bases (12) and on-base percentage (.582). She also had one home run and six RBI.
Megan Tittle was batting .522 with team highs in homers (7), RBI (28) and slugging percentage (1.065), and Haley Maher was hitting .458 with one homer, seven RBI and a team-high six doubles. Chloe Corum was batting .442 with six homers, 15 RBI and seven runs, and Andi Rapp was hitting .364 with 10 RBI, 13 runs and eight stolen bases.
Bolanos-Cruz, Lowe lead boys track team
Luis Bolanos-Cruz and Anthony Lowe led the boys track and field team in the Gary Smith Invitational on April 27 at Thomas.
Bolanos-Cruz won the shot put (53 feet, 7 inches) and discus (155-0), and Lowe was third in the long jump (19-9 3/4). Manny Codjoe was sixth in the 200 meters (23.34 seconds), and the boys finished 10th (30 points) of 15 teams behind champion Thomas (107).
For the girls, Abriana Mann was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (48.51) and 200 (26.68). She also placed fifth in the 100 (13.46) and seventh in the long jump (15-5 1/2) as the Comets were 11th (23) of 14 teams behind champion Thomas (104).
Central Crossing next competes in the OCC-Central meet May 9 and 11 at Hilliard Davidson.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing baseball and boys tennis teams:
*May 3 -- Home vs. Marysville. The Comets lost to the Monarchs 3-1 on April 10 and 7-5 on April 12.
*May 6 -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Comets lost to the Wildcats 3-1 on April 15 and won 7-5 on April 17.
*May 8 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman. The Comets lost to the Shamrocks 3-0 on April 22 and won 3-0 on April 24.
May 2 -- At DeSales
May 7 -- Home vs. Grandview