Anna Feil learned when she first began pitching that she would not have an arm to overpower every hitter she faced, and that has held true into her junior season with the Pickerington High School Central softball team.
The reverse is true at the plate, as Feil's power, coupled with her skill in the circle, has made her an integral part of the Tigers' success as they seek at least a share of the OCC-Ohio Division championship and their first Division I district title since 2013.
"I don't try to be the strikeout pitcher a lot of girls like to be. I just try to stick to my game. If I strike out a lot of girls (on a given) day or give up a lot of ground balls or popouts to get us the win, I'm happy with that," Feil said. "Just working on my pitches in lessons and playing when I was younger, I started to realize I am not going to be the pitcher that's going to blow it by everybody or get a ton of strikeouts. I accepted that and worked on how I knew I could succeed."
Through 17 games, Feil was batting .423 with 22 hits, 24 RBI and four home runs and had a 10-6 record in the circle with 49 strikeouts, 28 walks and a 4.41 ERA in 52 1/3 innings.
Central was 13-6 overall and 6-2 in the league, tied for first place with Lancaster, before playing Reynoldsburg on April 30.
Feil was Grove City's primary pitcher as a freshman, going 12-5 with a 2.72 ERA, 111 strikeouts and 31 walks in 103 innings. She also batted .315.
Those numbers helped draw her attention from college coaches, and Feil -- who called her drop curve and screwball her best pitches -- committed to Georgia Southern in January 2018, not long after moving to Pickerington.
Usually batting fifth or sixth in the order, Feil's 10 home runs last season were second on the team behind Zoie Smith's 11.
"When (Feil) is up to bat, I like to back up because that ball can come right at me. You don't get a lot of reaction time," Tigers coach Jenny Young said. "Sometimes, I feel like I need a glove out there when a few of these girls are up. She has a lot of different tools she can go to (as a pitcher). If one pitch isn't working, she has a slew of others to go to. That makes her very versatile and she's a good fielding pitcher, too."
Shortstop Sophia Slack said Feil's composure might be her best attribute.
"She never lets a 3-0 count bother her. If she's down, she comes back and it helps the team out a lot that nothing gets into her head," Slack said. "I remember she was fast (as a freshman) and out to get every hitter. We were glad to get her. She has a job to get done and she's gotten even more aggressive since she's been here."
According to Young, each hitter in Central's regular batting order was batting .311 or better through 17 games and the team had a .404 average. Smith was batting .550 with nine home runs and Slack had a .518 average with five homers.
The Tigers temporarily dropped out of a first-place tie with Lancaster on April 24 with an 11-1, six-inning loss to the Golden Gales. Central defeated Grove City 5-4 on April 29, and the same day Lancaster lost to Gahanna 3-1.
Central is seeded 11th of 45 teams in the coming Division I district tournament. The Tigers took a first-round bye and will play host to 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 39th-seeded Westerville South in the second round Wednesday, May 8.
The winner will play 10th-seeded Teays Valley or 45th-seeded Franklin Heights in a district semifinal May 13.
Central defeated Reynoldsburg 6-5 on April 13 and beat South 17-3 in five innings on April 6.
"We started out rough, but I knew we'd get it together and we have," Feil said. "We're starting to jell. Once we got into the OCC (-Ohio), we started to turn things around and become the team we're used to being."
Lacrosse teams prep for Panthers
While the girls lacrosse team will look to re-establish its dominance in its crosstown rivalry with North when it visits the Panthers on Friday, May 3, the boys team will try to win its second consecutive game in the series after snapping a five-game losing streak against the Panthers last season.
Continuing a tradition from recent seasons, the games will be played as a doubleheader. The girls game is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys.
The girls had defeated North four years in a row before losing to the Panthers 10-8 last season. Also last year, the boys beat the Panthers 10-9, rallying from a five-goal deficit in the second half.
The girls team was 9-4 overall before playing Beavercreek on April 30 and is 3-2 in the OCC-Central.
Central split two games last week, losing 14-11 at Granville on April 23 before a 14-5 win at Marysville on April 25 in a game that was shortened in the second half because of bad weather.
Maddie Morrell had four goals against the Blue Aces and Grace Osborn scored four against the Monarchs.
Also on April 25, Morgan Morrell scored his 100th career goal while helping the boys team to an 18-6 win over Marysville.
Morrell entered the game with 96 goals and scored five against the Monarchs, and Ben Hayes added four goals for the Tigers, who were 8-4 overall before playing Dublin Scioto on April 30 and are 3-3 in the league.
Morrell had five goals in a 19-0 win at Newark on April 23.
Track teams perform well at Milt Will meet
The boys track and field team won seven events in the Milt Will Invitational on April 26 at Canal Winchester and scored 162.5 points to finish second of seven teams, behind the host Indians (167.5).
Brady Johnson won both the 800 meters (2 minutes, 4.98 seconds) and 1,600 (4:28.24) and Evan Matthews finished first in both the 110 hurdles (14.43) and 300 hurdles (38.71) to lead the Tigers, who also got wins from Denzell Feagin in the 100 (10.78), Karter Johnson in the shot put (47 feet, 8 inches) and the 800 relay (1:28.26).
Feagin also was runner-up in the 200 (22.64) and Lorenzo Styles placed second in the 100 (10.94) and third in the 200 (22.73).
Also placing second were Peyton Lehr in the discus (142-0), Terry Simuel in the 400 (50.65) and the 400 relay (44.09).
Led by wins from Grace Adegoke in the high jump (5-1) and Madison Potts in the shot put (34-6 1/4), the girls team finished fifth (70.5) of seven teams, behind champion Fairfield Union (154.5).
Potts also was second in the discus (102-0).
Below are the coming schedules for the Central baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 3 -- Home vs. Lancaster. The Tigers lost to the Golden Gales 7-5 on April 10 and 5-1 on April 12.
May 4 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*May 6 -- At Reynoldsburg. The Tigers defeated the Raiders 7-6 on April 15 and lost 7-3 on April 17.
*May 3 -- At Pickerington North
May 6 -- Home vs. Watterson
*May 3 -- At Pickerington North
May 7 -- Home vs. Bexley
May 3 -- At Westerville Central
May 4 -- Dresden Tri-Valley and Wheelersburg at Pickerington North
May 2 -- Home vs. Westerville North
May 7 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Thomas Worthington
*May 2 -- At Pickerington North. The Tigers lost to the Panthers 25-16, 30-28, 28-26 on April 11.
*May 7 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington. The Tigers defeated the Golden Bears 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-18 on April 16.
May 8 -- Home vs. Licking Heights