Notebook: Grove City Greyhounds baseball team accomplishing goals
Grove City baseball coach Ryan Alexander enters each season with three goals in mind.
The Greyhounds look to capture a league title, win at least 20 games and win a district championship.
Grove City achieved two of those goals by winning the OCC-Ohio Division title at 11-4, ahead of second-place New Albany (10-5), and earning its 20th win with a 6-1 victory over 29th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 19 at home.
“We love our league because it is so tough,” Alexander said. “Everyone is competing every single pitch, so it gets our guys in the right frame of mind.”
The Greyhounds continued their pursuit of the third goal when they played 23rd-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district semifinal May 25.
Third-seeded Grove City, which had an opening-round bye, entered the game 20-8 overall.
The winner plays sixth-seeded Lancaster or 25th-seeded Newark in a district final May 27 at the home of the better seed, with that winner playing in a regional semifinal June 3.
Grove City was seeking its first district title since 2014.
Against Bradley, Keegan Holmstrom, Dennis Ritlinger-Nirider, Trent Ruffing and Dylan Wells-Kottman each had two hits.
Holmstrom went the distance on the mound, allowing five hits while striking out 10 and walking one.
“I love this time of the year,” Alexander said. “It’s fun and every pitch is critical. Our guys started the game the right way, we scored three in the first and two in the second and you could see their team get deflated. We had great approaches early. We played the game the way that we need to play it. We were aggressive and I was so happy for our guys.”
The Greyhounds closed the regular season with losses to Cincinnati Country Day (5-1 on May 15) and Teays Valley (4-1 on May 17).
•Despite a disappointing end to the season, there were several highlights for the Grove City softball team.
The second-seeded Greyhounds finished 27-2 overall with a 7-5 loss to 12th-seeded Pickerington Central in a Division I district semifinal May 17 at home.
Both Grove City losses came against Central, a former rival in the OCC-Ohio. The Tigers also beat the Greyhounds 15-10 on May 1.
Grove City won its first league title since 2014, finishing first in the OCC-Ohio at 10-0, ahead of runner-up Westerville Central (8-2).
Coach Ted Williams earned his 500th career win with a 16-0, five-inning victory over New Albany on April 15 and has 512 wins for his career.
“It was never something that I looked to do, but as I got closer to it, it became a personal goal and something I wanted to do,” Williams said. “I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. It just speaks of the girls that I’ve had at Grove City.”
Grove City also won 20 games to begin a season for the first time during Williams’ tenure.
“There were some positive things this season,” Williams said. “I’ve never won 20 games to start the season and that was something that was entirely new for me.”
Five of Grove City’s six seniors were three-year starters. Last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Senior Maddie Wilcox (OF) will play at Ohio University and senior Chloe Clark (2B) will play at Otterbein.
Other three-year starters were Avery Ciborek (C), Sydney Sharron (INF) and Kendall Weber (INF/designated player).
Katie Gallagher (OF), a transfer from Ready, was the other senior.
Players eligible to return are juniors Gabby Adams (P) and Alissa Schiff (OF), sophomores Mikaela Dotson (INF), Rachel Duff (P), Brooklyn Orahood (P/designated player), MaKenna Reese (C), Maya Rice (OF), Adyson Sigman (INF), Gracie Smith (OF) and Braxton Williams (INF) and freshmen Neveah Barnhart (INF) and Renee Hively (C).
•Central Crossing softball coach Rona Dorsey saw the silver lining in a season in which her team finished 2-24 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Comets featured a young roster that kept improving as the season progressed, allowing the team’s nucleus to gain valuable experience for seasons to come.
“We played a tough schedule, so we didn’t run from competition,” Dorsey said. “One of the benefits of having a young team is that it puts us in a better spot to compete in the future. When you stop looking at wins and losses you can see that we’re developing opportunities for players.”
The 40th-seeded Comets defeated 37th-seeded Reynoldsburg 10-9 on May 10 in the first round of the Division I district tournament before losing to third-seeded Mount Vernon 17-4 in five innings May 12 in the second round.
Their other victory was over Dublin Jerome, 9-7 on April 13.
Freshman shortstop Sara Solberg led the Comets in most hitting categories, including batting average (.522), triples (2), on-base percentage (.593) and slugging percentage (.739). She also had four RBI, scored five runs and stole six bases.
Sophomore Brianna Garner batted .364 and led the team with two home runs, 18 RBI and eight stolen bases and also scored 18 runs. She was the primary pitcher, going 1-2 with an 8.40 ERA, 29 strikeouts and 16 walks in 75 innings.
Junior outfielder Bella MacKellar had a .321 batting average with five RBI and 13 runs, and freshman second baseman Cassidy Pfeiffer batted .303 with one homer, nine RBI, 14 runs, six stolen bases and a team-leading eight doubles.
•An inexperienced Central Crossing boys tennis team finished 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye under first-year coach Cody Hawkins.
The Comets defeated Groveport 3-2 on April 27 for their league victory.
“I think the boys showed tremendous improvement this season, which is a testament to their character and work ethic,” said Hawkins, who also coaches the girls tennis team. “I think this was a really successful season.
“We are a completely different team than when I came in to coach them. I told them that if this team played a match against ourselves from a month ago, we would beat them handily.”
The Comets competed in a Division I sectional May 13 at Hilliard Bradley, but did not have any singles players or doubles teams move on to the second day May 15. The top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for district May 20 and 22 at Reynoldsburg.
Seniors Calvin Lim and Bogdan Semchishin and freshman Max Shishlo all went 1-1 at sectional, and the doubles team of sophomore Jeremy Pauquette and freshman Andrew Semchishin also was 1-1. Senior Jesse Nlemchi and sophomore Tre Tipton lost their opening doubles match.
Freshman Trey Painter also played varsity matches.
“It should be a little easier next season because they know what I’m about and what my expectations are,” Hawkins said. “They are already asking about when we’ll have open courts and training in the offseason. They are hungry for next season and want to come back improved and ready to go.”
CENTRAL CROSSING SOFTBALL
•Record: 2-24 overall
•OCC-Buckeye standings: Lancaster (9-1), Groveport and Pickerington Central (both 7-3), Newark (4-5), Reynoldsburg (1-7), Central Crossing (0-9)
•Seniors lost: Madison France and Rebekah Reynolds
•Key returnees: Brianna Garner, Bella MacKellar, Cassidy Pfeiffer and Sara Solberg
•Postseason: Defeated Reynoldsburg 10-9; lost to Mount Vernon 17-4 (5 innings) in second round of Division I district tournament
CENTRAL CROSSING BOYS TENNIS
•Record: 4-7 overall
•OCC-Buckeye standings: Pickerington Central (5-0), Reynoldsburg (4-1), Lancaster (3-2), Newark (2-3), Central Crossing (1-4), Groveport (0-5)
•Seniors lost: Calvin Lim, Jesse Nlemchi and Bogdan Semchishin
•Key returnees: Trey Painter, Jeremy Pauquette, Andrew Semchishin, Max Shishlo and Tre Tipton
GROVE CITY SOFTBALL
•Record: 27-2 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (10-0), Central (8-2), Gahanna (6-4), Pickerington North (4-6), New Albany (2-8), Westland (0-10)
•Seniors lost: Avery Ciborek, Chloe Clark, Katie Gallagher, Sydney Sharron, Kendall Weber and Maddie Wilcox
•Key returnees: Gabby Adams, Alisa Schiff and Adyson Sigman
•Postseason: Def. Columbus West 25-0 (5 innings); def. Westland 22-0 (5 innings); lost to Pickerington Central 7-5 in Division I district semifinal