Westerville Central High School softball coach Brian Wamsley proudly clutched the Division I regional championship trophy shortly after the Warhawks' 3-2 walk-off win over Mount Vernon on May 25 at Ohio State.
Wamsley and his players are hoping to add one more award to the collection, as they will compete in the program's first state tournament this week at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
"It feels great," Wamsley said. "(The regional championship trophy is) a little bit bigger than the district ones we have. We won two districts in a row and now we have a regional championship. I told the girls to celebrate and enjoy it, but there are two more (games) to go."
The Warhawks are 28-2 and play Liberty Township Lakota East in a state semifinal Friday, May 31, with the winner playing Elyria or Louisville in the final Saturday, June 1.
Central was third in the final regular-season state poll, behind top-ranked Mount Vernon and Lakota East. Louisville was fourth and Elyria was eighth.
Central advanced to state thanks to Avrey Schumacher's clutch hit against Mount Vernon. With the game tied at 2, Emily O'Dee led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield single and two outs later raced home with the winning run on Schumacher's double to the fence in right-center field.
"I like to have pressure situations," Schumacher said. "Usually, I feel better in those situations rather than just going up to the plate. I'm just glad I could get it done for my team."
Central's Lexi Recinella opened the scoring with a home run with one out in the second.
Emily Ruck pitched another solid game for the Warhawks, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Brooke Radermacher's home run ended the shutout and no-hitter, and Mount Vernon later tied the game on Megan Pentz's groundout.
Ruck allowed two hits while striking out 10 and walking one.
"Mount Vernon can hit," Wamsley said. "(Ruck) did an outstanding job."
Schumacher and her senior teammates began the day by attending graduation at the Schottenstein Center.
"Right before we started the seventh inning, we talked about how we're not losing on graduation day," Schumacher said. "I'm just glad that we could get it done."
Central advanced to the regional final with a 2-1 win over Grove City on May 22 at Ohio State. Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, the Warhawks tied the game on Cami Compson's triple. She then scored the winning run on Schumacher's infield single.
Ruck stranded the tying run at third in the seventh, striking out three in the inning and finishing with 13 for the game. She allowed four hits.
Track teams excel at regional
The girls track and field team turned in a program-best effort in the Division I regional meet May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
The Warhawks earned their highest finish, placing second (54 points) behind Gahanna (89) as 38 teams scored.
Last season, Central finished third (46) behind champion Gahanna (84).
"This feels good," coach Ryan Borland said. "It's a special group. They're tired right now, but they came through at the end when we needed them. We have a lot of kids going to state (this) week."
Moriah Johnson was one of several standouts for the Warhawks, as she qualified for state in four events.
She joined Kayla Jones, Chiedza Guyo and Mabinty Kebe on the second-place 1,600-meter relay (3 minutes, 56.58 seconds), Kebe, Kendall Allen and Skylar Themelaras on the third-place 400 relay (48.38) and Allen, Jones and Taylor Hickman on the fourth-place 800 relay (1:42.5). She also was fourth in the 200 (25.6).
Kebe won the 300 hurdles (42.84) and was third in the 100 hurdles (14.79), and Jones was fourth in the 800 (2:15.51).
Gianna Brooks earned her first state berth by finishing fourth in the pole vault (11 feet).
"The goal was to make it to the state meet," Brooks said. "I am thrilled to get a chance to compete at the state meet with a bunch of really awesome vaulters."
Lyssa Zepfel will compete in the 100, 400 and 800 in the seated division, which is not held at district or regional.
Also at regional, Themelaras was seventh in the 100 (12.7), Jones, Tara Will, Ashley Hockstok and Lauryn Chapman were seventh in the 3,200 relay (9:42.53), Will was 10th in the 1,600 (5:20.95) and Chapman was 16th in the 800 (2:26.98).
Rickey Hyatt Jr. led the boys team, finishing third in the long jump (22-5), fourth in the 300 hurdles (38.11) and joining D.J. Johnson, Tyrone Johnson and Dymon Gainey on the fifth-place 1,600 relay (3:20.06) to earn an at-large state berth.
The top four finishers, along with two at-large berths in each event based on times and distances statewide, advanced to state Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State.
Hyatt also was sixth in the 110 hurdles (14.69), Devon Richardson was seventh in the discus (143-7) and Tyrone Johnson was eighth in the 400 (50.69).
The boys finished 11th (21) behind champion Pickerington Central (101) as 42 teams scored.
Baseball team closes winning campaign
After going 13-15 last year, the baseball team finished 15-13 overall and 7-8 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
Seeded 13th for the Division I district tournament, the Warhawks lost to third-seeded and league-rival Olentangy Orange 8-0 in a semifinal May 21 at Dublin Jerome. The teams split four games during the season.
"We had a good feeling, had a good plan going into this one," said coach Jeff Keifer, whose team loses six players to graduation. "It just didn't work out. If we play this game tomorrow, it might be a different score."
Senior Camron Hubble (C/P/INF) and junior Ryan Raybould (INF/P) led the Warhawks in batting average, as each hit .390, followed by senior Niko George (P/INF/OF; .382), sophomore Justin Fleetwood (C; .379), junior Matt Boller (INF/P; .324), senior Brett Dahman (C/INF/P; .324) and senior Jake Yaussy (INF/P; .307).
Hubble led in runs (29), doubles (12), home runs (2) and RBI (21).
On the mound, George was 4-3 with a 6.36 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 17 walks in 33 innings. Yaussy was 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA, 10 strikeouts and 15 walks in 21 1/3 innings, and sophomore Joey Ohl (P/INF) was 3-0 with a 4.25 ERA, 21 strikeouts and 20 walks in 28 innings.
Dahman and Hubble were first-team all-league and second-team all-district. George was first-team all-district and second-team all-league, Raybould was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, Yaussy was special mention all-league and junior Jace Jarvis (OF/P) was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Brandon Ruman (OF/P) had 20 RBI. Others eligible to return are juniors Brice Butler (OF/P), Griffin Das (INF), Christian Define (P/INF), Michael Hause (OF/P), Josh Laffey (P/INF), Wesley Minke (INF) and Andrew Nussbaum (P/INF) and sophomores Corbin Caplan (INF/P), Kyle Denney (OF) and Tyler Sackett (P/INF).
"We work so hard," Keifer said. "People just look at the games and forget we've been doing open workouts the first few days of school and these guys worked really hard. It's one of the hardest-working teams we've ever had. It always stings now, but in reflection, it was a solid season."
Boys lacrosse team caps winning season
The boys lacrosse team finished 11-9 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye under second-year coach Jeremy Schocken.
The 10th-seeded Warhawks lost at fifth-seeded Medina 13-4 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament May 17.
Senior attacker Dawson Kindall led the Warhawks in scoring with 99 goals and 24 assists. He was first-team all-league and second-team all-region.
"That is incredible," Schocken said of Kindall's season. "We have kids that are really competing at an incredibly high level, so once more kids in the program see that it's going to drive them to compete at that high level."
Sophomore goalkeeper Logan Moore had 219 saves and was second-team all-region, and senior defender Zach Rush was honorable mention all-league.
Junior midfielder Jack Lammert had 43 goals and 13 assists, sophomore attacker Jake Schorling had 24 goals and 25 assists, senior attacker Mitchell Bury had 16 goals and six assists, senior midfielder Avery Kuhr had 13 goals and 15 assists and senior midfielder Jon Gentil had 11 goals.
Others eligible to return are juniors Tyler Beckel (defender), Mikey Cole (midfielder/faceoff specialist), Jeremy Gellner (midfielder), Heath Jeffers (midfielder), Gabe Muccio (defender), Cole Peck (midfielder/attacker), Sam Shoemaker (midfielder) and Lance Wyatt (midfielder) and sophomore defender Jimmy Glaser.