The Olentangy Orange High School baseball program has continued an impressive streak.
The third-seeded Pioneers defeated 27th-seeded Delaware 8-2 on May 15 at home in the second round of the Division I district tournament, and that victory advanced them to their fourth consecutive district semifinal.
Orange played 13th-seeded Westerville Central on May 21 in its eighth district semifinal in nine seasons and its 10th in the program's 12 seasons.
The Pioneers entered the game 21-7, hoping to extend their season in pursuit of their third district title.
"Our goal is always to win a district championship," said coach Tom Marker, whose program also won district titles in 2012 and 2017. "If we were in a larger league like in Licking County or something like that, maybe (our goal) would be different, but we're in a six-team league that changes every three years. We're focused on the district."
The Orange-Central winner plays in a district final Thursday, May 23, at a neutral site against sixth-seeded Hilliard Darby or 18th-seeded Watkins Memorial. The regional semifinal is May 30 at Dublin Coffman.
"It's a great feeling for us," junior third baseman/pitcher Zane Lattig said. "We worked all season and even over the summer for this. To be finally here and go through it is great.
"Coach Marker stresses the little things and routines every day. You can't take anything for granted, and you need to do things the right way."
Lattig struck out seven in seven innings to lead the Pioneers past the Pacers in their postseason opener. Tyler Ross doubled, singled and had two RBI, and Robbie Dayhuff tripled and drove in three.
"We have been consistent," catcher Sam Till said. "We have serious guys and goofy guys who keep everything light. We have a good mix."
Through 28 games, Lattig was 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 59 1/3 innings, and Josh Laisure was 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. David Hughes was 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 24 innings.
"Our pitchers have been pounding the strike zone and getting ahead in counts," Till said. "That allows you to throw your off-speed pitches and keep the batters off-balance."
Ross was batting .429 with 29 RBI and 12 runs, and Dayhuff was hitting .361 with 13 RBI and 19 runs. Caden Konczak was batting .346 with 16 RBI, 24 runs and 11 stolen bases, and Laisure was hitting .308 with 17 RBI and 15 runs.
"Our consistency has been huge," Marker said. "We preach all year about the routines and going through the process and doing things the same way all the time. The guys have bought into that.
"We're pretty consistent in our actions. The players know what they are doing and go about their business. They are sticking to the plan and staying consistent. Our guys have jelled together really well, and they hold each other accountable."
Doubles team qualifies for state tournament
The doubles team of senior Alex Heiden and freshman Soham Pradhan won a championship for the boys tennis team in the Division I district tournament May 18 at Reynoldsburg.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for state Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Heiden and Pradhan rallied to defeat New Albany's Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose, the defending state champions, 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the title match.
"When we lost the first game (in the final), coach (Matt Rutherford) told us to get back up," said Heiden, who went 1-1 in doubles at state last season with 2018 graduate Jordan Phelps. "We had to wait for their tennis to die down and for us to just continue playing solid tennis. It's good to win a district (title) against a great team like that."
Heiden and Pradhan outlasted Liberty's Marcelo Aguilar and Vishnu Bodavula 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a semifinal. They defeated Coffman's Anton Bakunin and Siddharth Rajagopal 6-0, 6-1 in their opener and Dublin Jerome's Dylan Cai and Chris Knight 6-1, 6-2 in their state-qualifying match.
"They showed an incredible ability to keep fighting," Rutherford said. "It was a perfect example of how the power of the mind can help you."
Girls track team wins district title
The boys and girls track and field teams entered the Division I regional meet, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North, coming off strong district 3 performances May 18 at Darby.
The girls ran away with a district title, finishing with 125.5 points to outdistance runner-up Thomas Worthington (88.33) as 17 teams scored.
Grace Frye won the discus (136 feet, 6 inches) and shot put (36-8 1/2), placed third in the long jump (program-record 18-1 1/2) and was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (47.6 seconds). The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional.
Sara Borton won the pole vault (11-0), and the 800 relay of Camille Barron, Kylie Hanson, Abby Faulkner and Ava Musgrove was first in 1:45.21.
The 3,200 relay of Lindsay Ott, Abby Schroff, Quinn Shannon and Allie Guagenti was runner-up in 9:23.76, and the 400 relay of Brenda Agyekum, Barron, Maya Patterson and Faulkner placed second in 49.51.
Hanson, Grace Bezold, Guagenti and Faulker were third in the 1,600 relay (3:59.91).
In the 100, Musgrove was second (12.5) and Agyekum was third (12.79). Guagenti was runner-up in the 1,600 (5:00.85), Barron placed third in the 200 (26.65) and Hanson was third in the 400 (1:00.08).
For the boys, Jaeschel Acheampong set the program record in the long jump, winning with an effort of 24-5. Jonathan Petersen won the pole vault (14-7) to help the Pioneers total 101 points and place second behind Reynoldsburg (104) as 16 teams scored.
Andrew Schroff was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:20.43) and fourth in the 800 (1:59.09) behind teammate Alex Kenish, who was second (1:54.17). The two joined Christian Wright and Ian Enders on the third-place 1,600 relay (3:21.95), and Schroff was on the third-place 3,200 relay (8:17.59) with Lincoln Weber, Kyle Stringer and Jay Shin.
Tommy Torres, Matt Momburg, Russell Nemec and Enders were on the runner-up 400 relay (43.25), and Wright, Nick McDonald, Momburg and Enders were on the fourth-place 800 relay (1:30.39).
Eli Payne placed second in the discus (130-2). Joel Addo was third in the high jump and Nik Brannon was fourth with both jumping 6-0.
At regional, the top four in each event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Boys volleyball team loses regional opener
The boys volleyball team opened the Division I East Region tournament by falling to 13th-seeded Westerville Central 25-15, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 15-12 on May 17 in the first round.
The 12th-seeded Pioneers finished 9-14.
Young softball squad 'grew each game'
The softball team finished 8-13 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye in its first season under coach Mason Robinson.
"I think coming into the season, we had only a few varsity returners," Robinson said. "Everyone contributed. Being young, we had a lot of kids continue to step up for us."
Senior pitcher Brenna Oliver batted .366 and had a 4.80 ERA in 87 innings. The team's other senior, outfielder Brenna O'Reilly, batted .263.
Freshman shortstop Riley Jestadt batted .429 with a .500 on-base percentage, and sophomore infielder and pitcher Alli Rubal batted .402 with a .500 on-base percentage and had a 3.30 ERA in 42 innings.
Junior catcher Teresa Hawk batted .298, junior Kinleigh Hill hit .267 and sophomore second baseman Morgan Woycitzky hit .245.
"I think the season went pretty well because we grew each game," Robinson said. "We wanted to get better 1 percent every game, and I think we did that."
Boys lacrosse team loses tourney opener
The ninth-seeded boys lacrosse team lost to seventh-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 11-3 on May 14 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament.
The Pioneers finished 8-9 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Defender Ethan Adkins (27 ground balls), midfielder Mitchell Gifford (12 goals, 6 assists, 26 ground balls), midfielder Sam Hughes (14 goals, 7 assists), defender Evan Secrist (33 ground ball) and midfielder Braeden Vance (11 goals) led a 13-player senior class.
Junior attacker Bo Roby (second-team all-league) led Orange with 31 goals, and sophomore midfielder Tanner Hegarty had 24 goals and four assists. Junior defender Zach Hill was second-team all-league.
Top juniors expected back include midfielder Luke Clifford (33 ground balls), goalkeeper Tanner Davidson (111 saves), faceoff specialist Alex Lopez (71 ground balls) and attacker Riley Tomechak (8 goals, 5 assists).
Sophomores John Stearns (attacker; 6 goals, 9 assists) and Luke Applegate (defender; 27 ground balls) also are expected to return.
The Pioneers were led by interim coach Zach Peterson, who took over after Pat Boyce died March 5. Boyce was honored posthumously as league Coach of the Year.
Girls lacrosse team to lose defensive stars
Goalkeeper Grace McAninch and defender Taylor Houston are among the graduation losses for the girls lacrosse team after finishing 2-14 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
McAninch finished with 459 career saves. Houston (5 goals) was honorable mention all-league.
Attackers Tyler Bluvol (22 goals) and Maddie Girard (17 goals), defenders Devyn Fischer, Gaby Hayes and Allie Holdcroft and attacker Stephanie Sanchez (5 goals) rounded out the senior class.
Junior midfielder Hannah Brown had 17 goals and sophomore midfielder/attacker Jenna Durst had 16 goals. Sophomore midfielder Chloe Stiles and freshman midfielder Ellie Beck both had six goals, and junior midfielder/attacker Josie Vance and freshman midfielder Emma-Cait Cogan both had four.
Orange, which was led by first-year coach Mallory Skrobot, was seeded eighth for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and lost to seventh-seeded Delaware 18-13 on May 13 in the first round.