After losing to Whetstone 8-0 on April 10, the Centennial High School baseball team battled back into position to possibly share the City League-North Division title.
The Stars were 11-7 overall and 10-1 in the league before their rematch with the Braves on May 6 at Whetstone. A win over the Braves would have forced a playoff game to determine which team will represent the North in the City final.
"We've been hitting very well lately and playing a lot cleaner defensively," coach Pat Nance said. "This is the right time of the season to be playing our best ball and we've been playing with confidence."
The Stars, who close the regular season Saturday, May 11, at home against Watterson, are seeded 13th of 22 teams in the Division II district tournament. They will play host to 16th-seeded Independence in the first round Tuesday, May 14, and the winner will play at ninth-seeded Granville on May 16.
Centennial had won seven consecutive games entering the week, but Nance thinks the big victory in that stretch was a 7-6 decision over Grandview on April 23 during the week of spring break.
"We were missing a few guys, including (pitcher/shortstop) C.J. Dean," Nance said. "But we found a way to win, our confidence grew and we've been hitting much better since. C.J. has raised his average to .644 with six doubles, three triples and two home runs. ... He had 11 hits in a row (going into the Whetstone game).
"Our leadoff hitter, Cam Vasquez, has really developed and come into his own. We used a DH for him the past two years and he's batting .397 and has scored 28 runs from the leadoff spot (through 18 games). He's seeing a lot of pitches and doing a great job at leadoff. Evan Teeters has stepped up lately. He's hitting .357 with 25 runs (through 18 games)."
Vasquez, a pitcher and left fielder, said he tries to have his longest at-bat in the first inning.
"My goal is to see as many pitches as possible so we can gain some intel on the pitcher," he said. "I try to see at least six pitches in my first at-bat. I'll do anything to help this team and I think I've been so much more focused at the plate this year and that has given me the chance to do some things that I didn't have the past two years.
"We've got guys stepping up everywhere. Our ninth batter, Blake (Bennett), has been getting clutch hits and getting on base and that just fires me up when I get the chance with guys on base."
Nance also credits injured senior pitcher Myles Martinez with helping his teammates.
"Myles has done so much," Nance said. "He's become a great assistant coach. He leads practices before I get there. His (elbow) surgery has allowed him to see what it's like on the bench and he's pointing things out to his teammates, encouraging them and coaching bases."
Softball team enters postseason on roll
The softball team won its final six games of the regular season and was 15-8 overall before beginning Division II district tournament play May 7.
The 10th-seeded Stars played host to 11th-seeded Bexley, with the winner playing at seventh-seeded DeSales on Thursday, May 9. That winner advances to a district semifinal Tuesday, May 14, at a site to be determined, likely against top-seeded Lakewood.
The district final is May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.
Centennial beat Northland 13-3 on April 29, Mifflin 17-0 on April 30 and Beechcroft 13-3 on May 1 to improve to 12-1 in the City-North with a game remaining to make up against Whetstone, which is 13-0 in the league. The date of the makeup will be determined by the teams' postseason success.
The teams split their regular-season meetings the past two years and were forced to compete in a playoff game to determine the North representative in the City final. The Stars won both times.
The City final is scheduled for Wednesday, May 15.
Wissman seeded third for boys tennis team
Sophomore Max Wissman received the third seed for the Division II sectional boys tennis tournament Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Columbus Academy.
Wissman will face Sabien Latham-Aikens of Eastmoor Academy in the first round.
Also competing in singles for the Stars are senior Jack Jones and sophomore Aiden Ly. In the first round, Jones will face Watterson's Nick Geelan and Ly will meet Marion-Franklin's Cornell Garland.
In first-round doubles, sophomore Izaaz Akbar and junior Tyler Morefield will play Fisher Catholic's Asher Carr and Ben Janita, and juniors Simon McKenzie and Andrew Smith will play Bloom-Carroll's Nick Shreffler and Killian Bay.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 at Columbus Academy and May 18 at Reynoldsburg.
Track teams prep for district meet
The boys and girls track and field teams are competing in the City meet, which began May 7 and concludes Thursday, May 9, at Africentric. They then will prepare for one of the Division I district meets, which begin Tuesday, May 14, and conclude May 18 at Hilliard Darby.
The Stars were coming off the Tigers Invitational on May 3 at East, where the boys placed seventh (49) of 16 teams behind champion Whetstone (76) and the girls placed ninth (27) of 15 teams behind champion Hamilton Township (89).
For the boys, Kelvin Gilliam won the discus (129 feet, 3 inches) while Marquise Scott was second in the 100 meters (11.28 seconds) and 200 (22.92) and third in the long jump (20-4 1/2).
Kaleb Turner was fifth in the 3,200 (10:44.07) and joined Chemlahyah Yisrael, Justin Bridges and Jadon Kimbrough on the fifth-place 3,200 relay (9:04.41).
For the girls, Israa Abdelaziz was third in the 800 (2:58.04), Shamara Bridges was third in the shot put (31-10 1/2), Dayja Franklin was fourth in the discus (83-10 1/2) and Sky Harris tied for fourth in the 100 (13.67).
Girls lacrosse team closes regular season
The girls lacrosse team lost to Buckeye Valley 12-5 on May 4 and is 2-10 heading into its regular-season finale Thursday, May 9, against visiting Whetstone.
The Stars have lost seven consecutive games since defeating the Braves 9-4 on March 26.
In the Division II, Region 7 tournament, Centennial is seeded last in the 17-team field and will play at second-seeded Columbus Academy on May 16.