Having clinched its third consecutive outright OCC-Capital Division championship, the Groveport Madison High School softball team has shifted its focus.
"We need to stay sharp and work on some things in the rest of the regular season and in practices as we prepare for the (Division I district tournament)," coach Chris Downing said. "We still need to be better defensively and we can get crisper in situational hitting and baserunning."
The Cruisers defeated Newark 11-4 on April 29 and were 15-4 overall and 8-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing New Albany on April 30 and Big Walnut on May 1.
"... We have talked about going unbeaten in the league after we went 9-1 in the league last year," Downing said. "We need to adjust that goal to make sure we stay focused."
Groveport will play host to Hilliard Bradley on Thursday, May 2, christening its new field, before closing the regular season with games against host Reynoldsburg and Watkins Memorial on Saturday, May 4.
The Cruisers are seeded fourth of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 24th-seeded Hamilton Township or 25th-seeded Olentangy in the second round Wednesday, May 8.
Entering the week, Groveport had won seven consecutive games, including 27-0 over Franklin Heights on April 22 and 15-4 over Canal Winchester on April 24.
Senior shortstop Lanie White hit a pair of home runs against Canal Winchester after hitting two homers and driving in six runs in an 8-6 win over Newark on April 17.
"We're all really ripping the ball right now," said White, who had nine home runs and 32 RBI through 18 games. "Macie Sporleder has been hitting like crazy all year and she's had a lot of big hits. We've got two freshmen who have really come along in Gabby Adams and Kendyll Cahill and we're just clicking throughout the lineup.
"I'm really, really excited about that because we want to win a district championship this year and I don't think we have a weak bat in the lineup. We've proven to be one of the best teams in the district the past several years, but we've come up short (of winning a district title). We have to get that done this year."
White has been getting pitched around and receiving intentional walks the past few weeks, according to Downing. White, however, has remained patient at the plate.
"Hey, I've got Macie hitting behind me and she's had a wonderful season," White said. "It's OK if they don't want me to drive in runs, because Macie will clean it up. I trust her. We've played together in travel ball the past couple of years and I know what she can do."
Sporleder relishes those opportunities.
"I enjoy it when (pitchers) walk Lanie and think that'll be easier on them," Sporleder said. "It kind of gets you pumped up and excited a bit more to do your job. I think I get more aggressive then. But truthfully, with Lanie on a home run streak, I wouldn't pitch to her, either."
Entering the week, the Cruisers had a player hit multiple home runs in five of their previous six games. Adams hit two home runs against Franklin Heights and two in an 18-4 win over Canal Winchester on April 11 and Cahill hit a pair in a 4-2 win over Big Walnut on April 18.
"This is the best lineup we've had since I've been here," Spor-leder said. "We've been playing better defense lately, too, so I think winning a district championship is very achievable."
Baseball team stays in league title chase
The baseball team moved above .500 for the first time this season by beating Newark 2-0 on April 22 and 6-2 on April 24.
Trey Mantle pitched a three-hitter in the shutout against the Wildcats.
The Cruisers, who won only two of their first seven games, defeated Big Walnut 4-1 on April 29 and were 9-7 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing the Golden Eagles again on April 30 and Franklin Heights on May 1.
The April 30 contest against the Golden Eagles was a makeup from April 26.
Groveport entered the week on New Albany's heels in the league title race. The Eagles were 8-1 before playing Franklin Heights on April 30.
Groveport has league contests Friday, May 3, at Canal Winchester and Monday, May 6, at home against New Albany.
The Cruisers split their first two league contests against both teams. They beat New Albany 4-1 on April 15 and lost to the Eagles 6-3 on April 17, and they beat Canal Winchester 8-7 in nine innings on April 10 and lost to the Indians 2-1 in 10 innings on April 11.
Track teams prep for league meet
The track and field teams will get their final tests before the OCC-Capital meet when they compete in the Hilliard Bradley Invitational on Friday, May 3.
The Cruisers will play host to the league meet May 9 and 11.
The boys team finished third (136 points) in the eighth-team Milt Will Invitational on April 26 at Canal Winchester, behind Pickerington Central (162.5) and Pickerington North (137.5).
The 1,600-meter relay of Carl Allen, Tyrell Floyd, Tahzmere Givens and Rafael Soler won in 3 minutes, 27.61 seconds, John Motton placed second in the long jump (20 feet) and Illyas Haji was runner-up in the 3,200 (10:13.78). Givens was third in both the 110 hurdles (15.92) and 300 hurdles (40.51) and Jashaun McGraw was fourth in the shot put (44-9).
The girls team finished sixth (55) in the Milt Will Invitational, behind champion Fairfield Union (154.5).
The 800 relay of Atanna Gunnell, Chenise Smith, Emily Allen and Madi Young was second (1:53.46) and Madison Newsom placed third in the shot put (30-4 3/4) and fourth in the discus (82-2).
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*May 3 -- At Canal Winchester. The Cruisers beat the Indians 8-7 on April 10 and lost to the Indians 2-1 on April 11.
*May 6 -- Home vs. New Albany. The Cruisers beat the Eagles 4-1 on April 15 and lost to the Eagles 6-3 on April 17.
May 7 -- At Logan
*May 8 -- At Newark. The Cruisers beat the Wildcats 2-0 on April 22 and 6-2 on April 24.
May 2 -- At Hilliard Bradley
May 4 -- At Reynoldsburg with Watkins Memorial
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Westerville Central Warhawk Invitational at Otterbein