The Dublin Scioto High School baseball team breaks each postgame huddle by yelling "family."
Senior Aiden Lao believes that family atmosphere has helped the Irish stay in the race for the OCC-Cardinal Division title and also provides optimism heading into the Division I district tournament.
"Our motto is: Play hard, play with class and love your teammates," Lao said.
Scioto was 15-8 overall and 8-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Jerome on May 8. The Irish will conclude league play Friday, May 10, at home against the Celtics.
A third-year varsity player, Lao's primary position is catcher, but he also has seen playing time at second base and on the mound. He was the winning pitcher in Scioto's 10-0, five-inning win over Bexley on May 4, when the Irish recognized their four seniors and exchange students Tomoki Teramoto and Daiki Tomita from Japan.
Lao and senior Kyron Rogers (SS/P) have committed to play for the University of Findlay.
"(Lao and Rogers have) been best friends all through high school, so it's really cool and a unique opportunity for those guys to go play again at the next level, and they both deserve it," coach Ryan Longbrake said. "They work their tails off and are great players."
Longbrake, who is his third season as coach, could sense Lao's potential from the start.
"I've always seen the talent and the effort," Longbrake said. "The biggest thing about Aiden is he's a perfect baseball player that fits the mold of this program. He's such a huge leader and he's been a leader since he was a sophomore. We're going to sorely miss him, but we still have a lot of damage to hopefully do this season. He's been a great player for us."
At 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, Lao isn't your prototypical catcher, but he possesses the tools necessary to excel at the position, Longbrake said.
"He blocks every baseball, he works at framing every pitch, he touches every pitch and we love having our best player be our captain, our leader behind the plate," Longbrake said. "Even though he's not the biggest kid, he's the toughest kid in the program."
Scioto entered the week in need of assistance to win the league title. Hilliard Darby sat atop the OCC-Cardinal at 9-2 before playing Thomas Worthington on May 6.
The Irish's league title hopes were dealt a severe blow last week with a 9-4, 10-inning loss to Thomas. The game began May 1 and concluded the next day after being suspended because of darkness.
"(May 2) was a heartbreaker," Longbrake said. "We played Thomas Worthington, a continuation game. ... I love how we responded against Bexley."
Scioto concludes the regular season Saturday, May 11, at home against Westerville Central and then will turn its attention to the district tournament, which begins Monday, May 13.
The Irish are seeded 12th of 48 teams and have a first-round bye. They will play host to 21st-seeded Canal Winchester or 32nd-seeded Reynoldsburg in the second round Wednesday, May 15, with the winner likely playing fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a district semifinal May 20.
"We're looking for a deep run this year," Lao said. "In my two years, we haven't gone very far. District championship was one of our goals at the beginning of the year, so that's what we're looking for."
Softball team opens postseason
The 26th-seeded softball team fell to 8-16 overall with an 11-7 loss to 28th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 6 at home.
The Irish trailed 9-3 in the fifth inning before scoring four runs to pull within 9-7, but could not get closer.
"We just got in our own way," first-year coach Brooke Ott said. "It's the story of the season for us. We put up a lot of runs on the board, but we give up a lot of runs."
Scioto defeated Thomas 15-10 on April 10 and 12-2 in six innings April 30.
The Irish finished 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal, closing league play with a 10-8 loss to Jerome in the seventh annual Dublin Classic on May 4 at home.
Trailing 10-3, Scioto scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Jerome defeated Coffman 2-1 in the second game to win the event for the second consecutive season.
Scioto's game against Coffman was postponed because of bad weather. Ott said there was a chance the game could be rescheduled.
Proceeds from the event benefited the American Cancer Society, with each program's donation going toward research for a specific type of cancer.
Boys tennis team set for sectional
The boys tennis team is set to compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Hilliard Bradley.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
Scioto was 4-7 overall before closing the regular season May 6 against Pickerington North and May 7 against Pickerington Central. The Irish finished 3-4 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"We're not happy with the wins and losses, but it's a tough division," coach Sean Gilbert said. "Jerome is always strong and both Worthington teams are really good this year, as well as Delaware. I'm not upset that we lost those matches. They were a great experience heading into sectional. I'm pleased with the draws we got."
Scioto closed league play May 1 with a 5-0 win over Olentangy Berlin.
Santhusht Prasad won 6-1, 6-1 at first singles, Conner Page won 6-1, 6-0 at second singles, Moksh Desai won 6-4, 6-4 at third singles, Joey Randazzio and Jonathan Steinke won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles and Anutam Srinivasan and Visvam Srinivasan won 6-1, 6-1 at second doubles.
"Berlin is not one of the top teams in our division, but the way the guys played was pretty phenomenal," Gilbert said. "That and Bradley were easily our two best matches, and it's great when you get those in conference play."
The Irish defeated Bradley 3-2 on April 18.
Boys volleyball team preps for postseason
The boys volleyball team was 6-11 overall and 6-7 in the OCC-Cardinal before closing the regular season May 7 against Jerome. Scioto went 0-2 in the annual Battle of Dublin on May 3, losing to host Jerome 25-9, 25-15 and Coffman 25-18, 25-10.
The Division II East Region tournament drawing will be held Monday, May 13. The tournament begins May 17.
Below are the coming schedules for the Scioto boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and track & field teams:
May 14 -- At sixth-seeded Olentangy in first round of Division I, Region 1 tournament. Winner plays third-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 14th-seeded Wadsworth in regional quarterfinal May 17. The Irish are seeded 11th of 18 teams.
May 9 -- At Coffman
May 13 -- Home vs. 14th-seeded Gahanna in first round of Division I,
Region 3 tournament. Winner plays fourth-seeded Coffman or 16th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in regional quarterfinal May 17. The Irish are seeded fifth of 17 teams.
TRACK & FIELD
May 9, 11 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Davidson
May 14, 16, 18 -- Division I, district 1 meet at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.