After a 5-9 start, the Grove City Christian School baseball team used a strong late-season effort to finish with a winning record.
Coach A.J. McCampbell hopes that boosts the Eagles' confidence moving forward.
Grove City Christian finished 11-10 overall after losing to top-seeded Newark Catholic 10-0 in five innings in the second round of the Division IV district tournament May 15.
The 10th-seeded Eagles defeated ninth-seeded Tree of Life 5-3 in the first round May 13.
"I'm happy with the way that we finished," McCampbell said. "We were 5-9 at one point. We rattled off six straight wins, which is a good thing to see, especially from a fairly young bunch."
Junior Cameron Downton (OF) led the Eagles in batting average (.511) and home runs (2) and was second in RBI (23) and third in runs (22). On the mound, he had 28 strikeouts and 21 walks in 26 1/3 innings.
"I was pretty happy because we ended over .500," said Downton, who was named first-team all-district and all-MSL-Cardinal Division. "We were overall a pretty new team. We were a young team with a lot of sophomores starting and playing a lot. We were pretty inexperienced and that kind of hurt us."
Senior Gavin Robbins (C/INF/P) led in RBI (30) and runs (26) and was second in batting average (.422). On the mound, he was 3-1 with a 2.46 ERA, 42 strikeouts and 30 walks in 25 2/3 innings. Robbins was second-team all-district and all-league.
Junior Jake Spegal (SS/P) batted .379 with 25 runs and 12 RBI and was 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 38 walks in 34 2/3 innings. He also was second-team all-district and all-league.
"Cameron and Jake are three-year starters and they're coming back for that fourth year as starters," McCampbell said. "They were guys that were starters on teams that were pretty good. They've been playing and making an impact their entire careers."
Senior Tom Suhayda (1B) scored 16 runs and was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return are juniors Koby Brunney (OF), Caleb Miller (3B), Alex Wilson (OF) and Andy Wilson (1B/C), sophomores Jake Bapst (OF/2B/P), Josiah Bever (OF), Ivan Bowman (OF), Carson Dick (OF), Jared Ehrman (OF), Collin May (OF/C), Joseph Phillips (2B/SS/P) and Kyle Reed (2B) and freshman Connor Benson (2B/C/P).
The Eagles went 5-7 in the MSL-Cardinal to tie Wellington for fourth behind champion Fisher Catholic (12-0).
"It was frustrating," said McCampbell, whose team won the league title last season. "We had some things adversity-wise that we didn't have to face last year. It was a challenging year more than just with baseball aspects. We had some injuries. We had some eligibility issues. It's things you don't expect to come up back when you're planning in February for games. You have to deal with it when that happens."
Track athletes compete at regional
Members of the boys and girls track and field teams competed in the Division III regional May 22 and 24 at Fairfield Union.
For the girls, Calista Manns competed in the 100 meters, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and Morgan Iverson competed in the pole vault.
For the boys, Jaylin Walker, Brandon Rex, Jacob Stoneking and Zion-Christopher Jackson competed in the 400 relay.
The top four finishers in each event advanced to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1 at Ohio State.
Spencer named girls basketball coach
Bill Spencer has been named girls basketball. He replaces Mindy Bankey, who stepped down after two seasons.
Spencer has coached in Columbus City Schools, most recently at Marion-Franklin after stints at Northland, Columbus South, Independence and Eastmoor. His overall record is 315-202, and he received the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association 300 wins award following this past season.
"We had some great candidates, but in talking with coach Spencer, we saw his passion for developing a program for now and into the future," athletics director Matt Blandin said. "He has many years of experience and success at each of his coaching stops. He is interested in developing the whole student-athlete and committed to preparing them to be world changers after they graduate from Grove City Christian. That aspect made him rise to the top of our list."
Under Bankey, the Eagles went 16-30 overall and 9-19 in the MSL-Cardinal. She will remain as track and cross country coach.