When it comes to adjusting to new situations, Abby Stratford should be well-versed when she heads to college next year.

The senior for the Watterson girls volleyball team lived in Orlando for almost her entire life before a family business opportunity brought her to central Ohio in late July.

A West Point commit, Stratford has been learning how her skills as a 6-foot-2 middle hitter fit in with an Eagles program that won a Division I district championship last season.

"It's crazy," Stratford said. "It's been weird, obviously, since it's a new experience, but it's been good, too, because it's kind of preparing me to have to leave and be comfortable in awkward positions for college. Getting to go through that with my family with me is a really good opportunity."

Although Stratford moved to Florida when she was 2, her father, Justin, is from Mason and her mother, Kerri, grew up in Salem.

Her father is involved with a restaurant that will be coming to Polaris Fashion Place in October called Kitchen Social, which Stratford describes as an "American tavern."

While living in Orlando, Stratford attended Bishop Moore, where she helped the volleyball team go 17-10 and win a district championship last season.

"Definitely, it's been really hard because most of my closest friends (in Orlando) I'd known my whole life, but I've met so many people that I wouldn't have met otherwise (since moving here)," Stratford said. "I've gone to Catholic school my entire life. My mom worked at a Catholic school and it's given so much to me that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have my last year like that."

Stratford's brother, Domanik, is a 2017 Moore graduate who now plays men's volleyball for Cal State Northridge, and her older sister, Victoria, is planning to attend college in central Ohio.

Stratford also considered Tennessee Chattanooga, Radford and Santa Clara before choosing West Point, where she projects as a middle or right-side hitter.

"I went through the recruiting process throughout last year and when I went there in April, just the more I learned about it and the opportunity, I just fell in love with it," she said. "The first time I played competitive club volleyball was my first year of high school. I did every sport in middle school because I didn't know what I wanted to do. ... I just fell in love with (volleyball)."

Stratford's addition to Watterson's program has come at a good time. One of the Eagles' top players, junior libero Sydney Taylor, traveled to Egypt in late August to compete with the U.S. Girls Youth National Team. Taylor was expected to return to the lineup before a Sept. 17 match against Hartley.

The Eagles were 3-3 overall before competing in the Columbus Invitational held Sept. 14 and 15 at Olentangy Orange and fell to 2-2 in the CCL with a 25-20, 25-16, 25-12 loss to DeSales on Sept. 12.

Stratford, who was voted a team captain by her teammates despite joining Watterson just before the start of practice last month, has teamed with juniors Olyvia Kennedy and Gina Grden to lead the offense and be one of its top blockers.

Stratford is "excited to see how far" the Eagles can go once the entire lineup is in sync.

"It was difficult for (Stratford) for this transition as a senior," coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "You're moving and it's an emotional toll. We do a retreat every year right after tryouts and I think that really helped her build relationships with the girls. She was able to talk about this transition and move past that and look forward. She's been a great leader. ... She's a very strong blocker, so for us that escalated our defense even more, and offensively (she's) starting to make really good connections."

Boys golfers set for CCL finale

The boys golf team will compete in the CCL postseason tournament Sunday, Sept. 22, at Denison Golf Club.

The Eagles are second at 3-1 in the league behind St. Charles (4-0).

Through 13 matches, sophomore Carson Trafford led the team with a 39.8 nine-hole average, followed by seniors Fred Gilbert (40.5), Patrick Sellers (41.1), Ryan Newcomb (42.1), Max Ritchey (42.2) and Michael Reis (42.3).

Freshman Deacon Pinson also has contributed.

"The season has been about as expected, with some very good rounds, but mostly consistent rounds," coach Olin Melaragno said. "Our best team score was a 302 at the CCL preseason tournament at Apple Valley, which gave me serious hope for a very successful season.

"I would say Patrick Sellers has shown the most improvement from last year, with senior Max Ritchey also showing significant improvement."

Girls soccer team begins title defense

The girls soccer team opened defense of its CCL championship with a 4-1 win over DeSales on Sept. 12.

Isabella Ginocchi, Erin Karas, Julia Flanagan and Sydney Workman each scored for the Eagles, who tied Pickerington North at 1 on Sept. 14 and were 3-3-2 overall before playing Dublin Coffman on Sept. 17.

Against North, Ginocchi scored and goalkeeper Annie McGraw had four saves.

Watterson continues CCL action Thursday, Sept. 19, at Ready and will conclude league play Sept. 26 at home against Hartley.

Watterson tied Orange at 1 on Sept. 7 as Flanagan scored and McGraw made four saves.

Manahan resigns as softball coach

Emily Manahan has stepped down after two seasons as softball coach.

The Eagles went 31-20 under Manahan, including 17-10 last spring when they reached a Division I district final before losing to Gahanna 4-0.

It was the program's first district final appearance since 2013.

"Working at Watterson was a dream come true of mine and it was an extremely tough decision to leave, but changes in my professional career and opportunities to continue my education aren't going to allow me to give Watterson softball the time and dedication the school and players deserve," Manahan said. "... I will always be an Eagle at heart."

A 2008 Watterson graduate who played at Bluffton University, Manahan was an assistant coach for the Eagles for three seasons before being named coach in 2018. The Eagles went 14-10 in her first season.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 21 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster

FIELD HOCKEY

Sept. 21 -- At Shaker Heights and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown

*Sept. 23 -- Home vs. New Albany

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 21 -- Watterson Invitational at Clover Valley

Sept. 22 -- CCL postseason at Denison Golf Club

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 19 -- Canal Winchester and Pickerington North at Turnberry

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 19 -- At Olentangy Berlin

Sept. 21 -- At Westerville South

*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. DeSales

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 19 -- At Ready

Sept. 21 -- Home vs. Gahanna

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 24 -- At Lancaster

Sept. 25 -- At Dublin Coffman

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Ready. The Eagles beat the Silver Knights 25-21, 25-10, 25-12 on Sept. 10.

Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 25 -- At Amanda-Clearcreek

*League contest