The Westerville South High School softball team entered the latter stages of the season looking to gain respect.
The Wildcats were 5-15 overall and 0-8 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy Orange on April 30.
"It's about playing for each other and proving a point, gaining some respect in the softball community," coach Emily Swank-Kavanaugh said.
South snapped a 12-game losing streak by defeating Franklin Heights 17-1 in six innings April 27 at London. The Wildcats then defeated the host Red Raiders 2-1 in their second game, highlighted by freshman Tori Moore's two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning.
South is seeded 39th of 45 teams for the Division I district tournament and will visit 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg in the first round Monday, May 6. The winner visits 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in the second round Wednesday, May 8.
The Wildcats lost to Central 17-3 in five innings April 6. The Tigers erased a 3-1 deficit by scoring 16 runs in the fourth inning.
"We are pleased with our draw," Swank-Kavanaugh said. "It was a little disappointing to see teams we've beaten, and even run-ruled, ranked above us with the same or lesser record. It is what it is, but our kids are using it as motivation as we approach the tournament in an effort to gain more respect in the softball community."
With just two seniors on the team in Meghan Bame and Jewelia Smith, underclassmen are gaining valuable experience. There also is no junior varsity team this season, so 12 of the 15 players are freshmen and sophomores.
One of the underclassmen expected to lead the program in future seasons is Moore.
"It's always nice when you have talented freshmen," Swank-Kavanaugh said. "(Moore) stepped up and filled some pretty big shoes. She pretty much took over McKenna Saunders' role, who was a great athlete for us and she's doing well at Colgate. Those are big shoes to fill and Tori stepped right into them. She's lightning fast and has a hot bat. The kid can play."
Saunders is a freshman outfielder at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
Moore's home run against London erased a 1-0 deficit in the seventh and gave the win to sophomore pitcher Megan Shoemaker. Moore and Shoemaker each had three hits.
"We've been improving a lot, especially with how the coaches are pushing us this season," said Moore, who plays shortstop and bats leadoff. "We've been improving and the coaches' style is more of a mental game. Even if we're losing, the coaches are still pushing us mentally. I believe we're mentally prepared for every game."
Bame was the winning pitcher against Franklin Heights.
"We saw a little different team," Swank-Kavanaugh said. "They gained a little bit of confidence (and) the bats got hot."
The Wildcats were competitive in recent league losses to North (8-7 on April 17), Olentangy (4-0 on April 22) and Olentangy Liberty (6-0 on April 24).
Through 19 games, Shoemaker was batting .434 and Moore was at .377 with 10 extra base hits and seven RBI. Bame had 15 RBI.
Boys track team wins invitational
The boys track and field team won the nine-team Ranger Invitational on April 26 at Hamilton Township, collecting 123 points to finish ahead of Grandview (99) and Westerville Central (95).
Gideon Abimbola led the Wildcats, winning the 100 meters (11.62 seconds) and joining Ibukunoluwa Alfred, Aaron Powell and Austin Fickeisen on the first-place 1,600 relay (3:30.39).
Alfred won the 110 hurdles (15.77) and Donovan Slattery, Reece Marcelain, Isaac Combs and Cole Koehler won the 3,200 relay (8:50.68).
The girls finished third (118) of eight teams behind champion Watterson (170).
Makayla Roberts was second in the shot put (33 feet, 8 inches) and discus (100-10), Kaitlyn Ginn was second in the 100 (14.05), Jose-phine Appiah was second in the high jump (4-10) and Ellie Bouton, Elise Bennett, Isabelle Kotik and Jillian Pride were second in the 3,200 relay (11:22.59).
Boys lacrosse coach likes improvement
With the regular season winding down, boys lacrosse coach Michael Spatafore has been pleased with his team's improvement.
The Wildcats were 5-10 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Central on April 30.
"We have three games remaining this year (before April 30) and our record is better than last year," Spatafore said. "We are young, but the guys are starting to understand the system."
South finished 4-14 last season.
Below are the coming schedules for the South baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
May 4 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
May 7 -- At Centennial
May 2 -- At Wellington
*May 4 -- Home vs. Westerville North
May 2 -- At Whetstone
May 4 -- Home vs. Chillicothe
May 7 -- Home vs. Wellington
May 2 -- Home vs. Northridge
May 4 -- At Canal Winchester with Olentangy Berlin
May 6 -- At 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in second round May 8. South is seeded 39th.
May 2 -- Home vs. Beechcroft
May 6 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
TRACK & FIELD
May 2 -- Home vs. North
May 3 -- Warhawk Invitational at Otterbein
May 8, 11 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at North and Hilliard Davidson