When catcher Sami Swartz quickly shuffles over to block a pitch in the dirt, she calls on talents from her past to get the job done.
The sophomore for the Grandview Heights High School softball team spent much of her youth on the ice as a competitive figure skater. Those skills have come in handy for her when she sets up behind the plate.
"I had to have very good footwork when I was figure skating and I had to be really fast with my feet," said Swartz, who has been playing catcher for five years but is in her first varsity season. "I feel I can move my feet faster on the field and move to get the ball faster because of that."
Swartz said she started skating as a 3-year-old and enjoyed the competition, but is glad she gave up the sport at 10.
"I love the team aspect of softball because I used to be part of a sport that was just me out there," she said. "I had to stay up (emotionally) all of the time. Now I have my teammates and we help each other."
Coach Tori Lynch said Swartz is coming into her own behind the plate but still has a lot to learn.
"I don't know any coach who wouldn't be thrilled to have a capable sophomore catcher that she can work with for the rest of this season and the next two," Lynch said. "She has a lot of potential and a rocket of an arm. She is a brick wall back there, and she's just a sophomore. She has a lot of time to improve back there. I haven't seen any catcher at Grandview since I have been here that has an arm like her."
Swartz became a catcher because no one wanted to play the position when she first tried out for softball.
"My coaches saw that I wasn't shying away from the bat or the ball, so they wanted me to keep doing it," she said. "The biggest thing is making sure everyone knows where to go with the ball. I definitely have the best view of the field and I need to make sure (my teammates) know where the runners are at."
Lynch said Swartz has improved in the area of communication.
"Her awareness is getting better," Lynch said. "Sami's becoming the cruise director on the field and as a sophomore she has room to improve and time to do that. She's already headed in that direction."
Swartz is aggressive behind the plate, which has gotten her in trouble in the past.
"I try getting as close as possible to get to the ball," she said. "When I was in j.v. last year, I got hit (on the glove) twice (on swings) because I was getting too close.
"Now I make sure to look at the batters and see if they are leaning back when they swing. Some girls stand up and then lean back, and I have to make sure to stay back and get lower. I have been up higher in the past."
Swartz is still trying to find her groove at the plate. Through 18 games, she was hitting .189 with 11 runs and five stolen bases.
The Bobcats were 4-14 overall and 2-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Whitehall on April 29.
In a 17-12 win over Bexley on April 22 in league play, Swartz went 2-for-4, scored twice and stole a base.
"I didn't start out too well at the plate, but I have been going to batting cages and I have a tee set up in my basement so I can be constantly hitting," she said.
The victory over Bexley shows the strides the Bobcats have made from the start of the season. They lost to the Lions 12-1 in five innings April 1 and 9-7 on April 10 in the first two league meetings.
"We're making progress," Lynch said. "We're getting the bugs out and we have gotten rid of the nervousness so we can get back to playing ball the way we know we can."
Baseball team looking to sew up league title
The baseball team entered the week looking to clinch at least a share of its first league championship since winning three consecutive MSL-Cardinal titles from 2007-09.
The Bobcats were 16-3 overall and 5-1 in the MSL-Ohio before closing their league schedule April 29 and May 1 against Columbus Academy. They were tied for first with Bexley, which also was 5-1 in the league.
Through 19 games, Gavin Van Horn led Grandview in batting average (.520), runs (30), stolen bases (14) and on-base percentage (.667) and had 15 RBI. He also was 5-0 with a 0.43 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32 2/3 innings.
Luke Berlin was 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA in 38 innings with 15 strikeouts and five walks.
Joey Bertani was batting .508 with a team-leading two home runs, 36 RBI, seven doubles and a .746 slugging percentage to go with 23 runs. Jon-Micah Griffith was batting .375 with 18 RBI, 14 runs and six doubles, Jake Hollar was hitting .362 with 29 runs and 11 stolen bases and Glenn Cribbs was batting .341 with 18 RBI.
Depth solidifies boys tennis team
Depth has been a major reason the boys tennis team was 10-2 overall and 1-2 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Academy on April 30.
The Bobcats defeated West Jefferson 4-1 on April 24 as Max Lauer won at second singles and Calvin Horning won at third singles. Keegan Kearney and Patrick Rowland won at first doubles, as did Adam Cincione and Connor Hayes at second doubles.
"We have more depth this year," coach Kathy Kinnard said. "We don't have that top-notch star, but we do go eight deep without much of a drop-off. The depth is what is responsible for our record."
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
May 4 -- At Liberty Union (DH)
May 6 -- At Grove City Christian
May 2 -- Home vs. Liberty Union
May 3 -- Home vs. Cristo Rey
May 4 -- Home vs. Buckeye Valley (DH)
May 6 -- At sixth-seeded Newark Catholic in first round of Division IV district tournament. Winner plays at second-seeded Berne Union in second round May 8. The Bobcats are seeded 10th.
May 2 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
May 6 -- At Hartley
May 7 -- At Central Crossing
TRACK & FIELD
May 7, 10 -- MSL-Ohio meet at Whitehall