The Whetstone High School softball team closed out the season with its first City League championship in six years.
The Braves held off host Eastmoor Academy 8-7 in the City final May 21 to finish 15-11 overall.
Whetstone led 8-4 before watching the two-time defending City champion Warriors score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Eastmoor had the potential tying run at third base and the potential winning run at second when junior pitcher AnnaMary Absalom enticed a ground ball to sophomore first baseman Megan Harrison to end the game.
"This team showed a lot of resilience after losing to Centennial (8-2 on May 13) to be forced to play them in a playoff two days later," coach Larry Peck said. "We trailed 8-6 in the playoff and could've folded, but scored five runs in our final two at-bats to win (11-8) just to get to the championship game.
"We led Eastmoor 7-4 going to the sixth and tacked on a run, but struggled to finish. But somehow these girls didn't fold under pressure."
The Braves' previous City championship came in 2013 when they defeated Briggs 6-2 in the final.
"This is the first time everyone on this team played in a City championship and I'm so proud of all of my teammates because I think we deserved this," said senior center fielder Jolie Mason, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk against Eastmoor. "We've had some cruel luck against Centennial the past two or three years and couldn't win some playoff games against them, but we did this time and then finished it all off. It's a great way to finish my time at Whetstone."
The Braves and Stars both finished 13-1 in the City League-North Division, forcing the playoff for a berth in the final.
Whetstone, which was seeded 30th in the Division I district tournament and lost at 19th-seeded Dublin Coffman 11-0 in the first round May 6, is losing six seniors, including three starters in Mason, Roz Hannah (SS) and Gabby Thiede (2B).
Hannah batted .523 with 32 runs scored, 30 stolen bases and 16 RBI and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Mason (.493, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs, 27 runs, 30 RBI) also was first-team all-league.
Eight starters are expected to return in Absalom, Harrison, juniors Kassidy Keegan (3B) and Dahlia Kleen (RF), sophomores Grace Brigle (3B), Sadie Hannah (designated player) and Amelia Morris (LF) and freshman Ellen Edwards (C). Keegan and Brigle platooned at third base.
Absalom batted .520 with 15 RBI and was 9-9 in the circle with a 3.35 ERA in 96 innings. She was first-team all-league, as was Harrison, who batted .441 and was 6-1 in the circle with a 3.41 ERA in 41 innings.
Sadie Hannah (.528, 23 runs, 10 stolen bases, 16 RBI) and Edwards (.411) were second-team all-league and Keegan (.479, 26 RBI) and Morris (.418) were honorable mention all-league.
Kleen batted .460 with 20 runs.
"We have a lot of talent coming back and we can be a much better team next year if everyone works hard in the offseason," Peck said. "We've got a lot of speed, we're aggressive on the bases, we hit well and we have our battery back. But we've got to get better defensively and really reduce our throwing errors."
Baseball team faced Bruins in City final
The baseball team sought its eighth consecutive City championship when it played Briggs in the City final May 24.
Whetstone, which was 17-7 overall before facing the Bruins, earned a spot in the City title game by defeating Centennial 6-5 in nine innings in a playoff May 21. The playoff was the result of the Braves and Stars sharing the City-North title at 11-1. The City-North championship was Whetstone's ninth in a row.
Jacob Price led off the top of the ninth with a walk and was on second base when Dominic Panzo hit a two-out RBI single to right field.
In the bottom of the inning, Centennial's A.J. Grumbling drew a one-out walk and was on second when Braves pitcher Jeffrey Golding struck out the final two batters to earn the victory. Golding pitched the final six innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs while striking out 12.
Whetstone trailed 3-1 after three innings, but Alex Timmons hit his second sacrifice fly of the game in the fourth and the Braves scored three runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Aidan Stephens and a two-run double by Price to take a 5-3 lead. The Stars tied the game at 5 in the bottom of the fifth.
"It was a tremendous game and both teams had chances to win," coach Tim Broskie said. "It was a huge crowd and a hostile environment. There were so many alumni and former players and their parents on both sides. What a great turnout and our two seniors, (Price and Golding), came through in the clutch."
Dillon competes at regional track meet
Brack Dillon represented the boys track and field team in the Division I regional meet held May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
The sophomore competed in the preliminaries of the 400 meters May 22, placing ninth in 50.78 seconds. The top eight finishers advanced to the final May 24.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to the state meet Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.
The girls team did not have any regional qualifiers.