New Albany Roundup: Pitching staff helping to power Eagles baseball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Elijah Griffith has been leading a deep New Albany pitching staff. He was 5-0 with a 0.56 ERA, 33 strikeouts and five walks in 25 innings through 20 games. The Eagles were 16-4 before playing Westerville Central on May 6.

New Albany baseball coach Dave Starling’s most optimistic outlook for his pitching staff this season might have glanced what his hurlers have accomplished, given that the Eagles lost important arms before their first game.

But with the Division I district tournament starting next week, Starling doesn’t think he could have asked much more from a rotation that has been led by senior Ian Hoff, junior Andrew Trybus and sophomore Elijah Griffith.

“When you lose three of your arms who you thought would get the majority of your innings, that puts you behind the 8-ball right away. We went to these guys and they have produced,” Starling said. “They have just thrown quality innings.”

Griffith was 5-0 with a 0.56 ERA, 33 strikeouts and five walks in 25 innings through 20 games, and New Albany was 16-4 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Westerville Central on May 6.

Hoff was 3-3 with a 1.66 ERA, 41 strikeouts and eight walks in 46 1/3 innings. Trybus was 5-0, mostly in relief, with 18 strikeouts and six walks.

Starters threw 71.5 percent of the Eagles’ innings before May 6, ahead of a bullpen anchored by sophomore closer Tom Bohman. He was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, three saves, 10 strikeouts and two walks.

Projected top pitcher Caden Robertson, a Memphis commit, is out for the season because of an elbow injury. A broken wrist sidelined Brady Conley for the entire season, and Cooper Sullivan cracked a growth plate during a scrimmage three days before the opener.

“I’m not much of a strikeout guy. I usually let (opponents) hit and let the defense take care of things for me,” Hoff said. “Early on, I learned as much as I want to strike everybody out and have that picture-perfect season with all the strikeouts, you quickly find out it comes down to your defense and how well they play for you.”

A few of the team’s top regular-season performances were, on some level, a matter of happenstance.

Griffith was slated to be a junior varsity player but was called up just before the season and, in an 8-1 win over Gahanna on April 19, allowed one earned run while striking out nine and walking one in a complete-game victory.

Trybus threw a perfect game in his first start, a 13-0, five-inning win over Westland on April 22, after A.J. Scott was unable to play because of a death in his family.

“I just keep doing what I’m good at and that’s throwing strikes,” Trybus said, downplaying any adjustment in mindset between starting and relieving.

Bohman concurred, although he smilingly acknowledged the existence of “a closer’s mentality.”

“What you can’t do is walk people and give free bases. You have to be laser-focused, hit your spots, shut them down and don’t give them anything for free,” Bohman said. “Toughness is the word.”

New Albany's Jordan George is congratulated by Sophia Halliday after hitting a home run against Reynoldsburg on April 13. George had 12 home runs through 21 games.

Softball squad’s

George displays power

As the softball team hoped to play its best entering the Division I district tournament, one player who had been consistent all season was sophomore Jordan George.

The third baseman and shortstop had 12 home runs through 21 games, helping New Albany to records of 6-15 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Westerville Central on May 6. The program’s season record is 13, set by Kaitlyn Gliha in 2014.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with her since she was about 8 years old so this doesn’t surprise me at all,” coach Aaron Hall said. “Her ability is on another level. We have some very talented kids, kids batting .550 and .560 and are solid hitters, but Jordan is on another level with power. She’s a threat every time she comes to play, and we have other hitters around her (opponents) have to pitch to.”

New Albany averaged 7.3 runs through 21 games, but allowed an average of 13.2.

Seeded 30th of 45 teams in the tournament, New Albany visited 27th-seeded Dublin Scioto in the first round May 10. The winner traveled to fifth-seeded Lancaster in the second round May 12.

That winner will face 14th-seeded Westerville South or 33rd-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal May 17. The district final would be May 19 against fourth-seeded Marysville, 10th-seeded Canal Winchester, 16th-seeded Watterson, 29th-seeded Hilliard Bradley, 31st-seeded Hilliard Davidson and 36th-seeded Briggs.

All district tournament games are at the better-seeded team’s home field.

New Albany lost to Marysville 10-0 in six innings March 27, Watterson 23-6 on April 16 and  Olentangy 13-2 in five innings May 1.

Track teams prep

for league meet

Girls track and field coach Amy Glenn and her boys counterpart, Greg Flecher, planned to spend last week finalizing the lineups for the OCC-Ohio meet May 13 and 15 at Thomas Worthington and next week’s Division I, district 2 meet.

Glenn admitted that might not have been enough time, but embraced the reason why.

“We have a solid base of athletes and boy-wise, our depth is so deep that we’re still trying to figure out which kids we want for relays and open events. We have some kids who might surprise teams because we’ve rearranged things and run them in different events,” Glenn said. “Our goal is just to be in that top four (advancing to regional) and then let’s see what happens.”

Nicole Stewart won the 100 meters (12.43 seconds) and Olivia Gaines won the 400 (1:02.84) in the Milt Will Invitational on April 30 at Canal Winchester. On the boys side, Victor Orsinelli was first in the 1,600 (4:31.16) and Josh Richardson leapt 6 feet, 2 inches to win the high jump.

The district 2 meet is May 18, 19 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North.

Lacrosse teams

sweep league titles

The boys and girls lacrosse teams both finished off undefeated OCC-Ohio championships May 4, with the boys defeating Pickerington North 16-7 and the girls routing the Panthers 23-4.

Grayson Passias’ four goals powered the boys team, which scored three goals in the final 3:12 of the first half to take the lead for good in finishing 5-0 in league play and clinching its first title since 2015.

“When (the OCC) shifted divisions around and with the team we had coming in, we felt like we had a great chance. We’ve seen it this year that everybody wants to beat New Albany and everybody will bring their best,” said coach Danny Gibson, whose team was 8-5 overall before playing DeSales on May 7. “We’ve seen signs of overall maturity, managing the game and playing lacrosse well from a tactical standpoint.”

The girls team, which was ranked fourth in Ohio by LaxNumbers.com as of May 5, was 11-3 overall before playing Dublin Coffman on May 6 and finished 4-0 in the league, outscoring its opponents 86-14.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave