Pickerington North Roundup: Khloe Bolin shoulders load as Panthers softball team's only senior

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Khloe Bolin (left) is the only senior on the North softball team, which was 7-5 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing New Albany on April 22.

Khloe Bolin does her best to carve out time to enjoy her final weeks of high school, even if those moments are fleeting.

Her responsibilities as the Pickerington North softball team’s only senior began long before preseason practice started in late February.

The program’s seniors typically are in charge of designing every aspect of the team’s T-shirts and hoodies, coordinating the team poster and devising the team motto of “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” a process that begins as early as September.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been stressful, but I’m fun and I’m going to miss it,” said Bolin, an outfielder who usually bats second. “One of my biggest struggles is taking a step back and realizing this is really it. After this, I choose to go to the next level or I’m done. It’s just tough because there’s so much going on, always.”

Bolin began heating up offensively in mid-April for the Panthers, who were 7-5 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing New Albany on April 22. She doubled twice in an 8-7 loss to Westerville Central on April 15 and had four hits and six RBI two days later in a sweep of a tri against Hilliard Davidson (11-4) and host Olentangy Berlin (20-3 in five innings).

“She understands the expectations. We have the communication and the talk about the leadership aspect of being a senior,” coach Sarah Looker said. “There’s a lot of work to being a senior, not only on the softball field but in school as well with different deadlines she has to meet. Still, it’s their year to enjoy and have some ownership of the program.”

At the same time as Bolin appreciates every moment on the field, she also feels the lingering effects of an injury that cost her most of her sophomore year.

Against Lancaster, she tore a ligament in her right arm and damaged the ulnar nerve, which runs from the neck through the elbow to the hand, making a throw from the outfield. 

Despite undergoing physical therapy, Bolin still experiences occasional pain and tingling.

“It’s kind of always hurting,” Bolin said. “There are times I tweak it and it’s sore for about three days.”

Bolin hopes to play softball in college but has not picked a school, listing Glenville State, Miami-Hamilton and Wilmington as possible destinations. She plans to obtain a paramedics license, then study criminology and forensics with the eventual goal of being a homicide detective or possibly working for the FBI.

North entered the week closing in on its eight-win total from 2019. To Bolin, such improvement comes from fulfilling responsibilities and trusting coaches and teammates.

“My biggest responsibility (as the No. 2 hitter) is to move the runner into scoring position, even if it’s a sacrifice bunt or a walk,” Bolin said. “When I did that, I know I did my job. If that’s not done, I let my team down.”

Emma Boder and the North girls lacrosse team are “going to start over fresh for the second half of our season,” coach Christine Miller said as the Panthers prepared to resume the season April 23 against CSG after a 10-day quarantine following an 0-6 start.

Lacrosse team moves

past quarantine

Hoping to put a positive spin on an unwanted situation, girls lacrosse coach Christine Miller said she treated a 10-day COVID-19 quarantine similar to Major League Baseball’s All-Star break as the Panthers tried to move past an 0-6 start.

“We’re going to start over fresh for the second half of our season,” Miller said. “Our record does not show how hard the girls have been working to grow and learn this sport. They’ve gained confidence in themselves and learned to play together. It just takes time.”

North was scheduled to resume play April 23 against Columbus School for Girls. OCC-Ohio games against Gahanna on April 13 and Westerville Central on April 20 were postponed to May 8 and April 30, respectively.

The Panthers are 0-2 in league play.

Miller applauded the efforts of captains Erin Boder, Emma Boder, Sydney Hopkins and Arden Santa in helping guide younger players through learning varsity play and the unexpected break.

“This break has been very beneficial to the players that weren’t in quarantine. We were really able to get back to basics and get lots of touches on the ball. We worked a great deal on fundamental skills and learning how to put skills together to play the game as a whole,” Miller said. “We’re working hard during the break to get mentally and physically stronger. COVID has placed an unimaginable amount of pressure and stress on our teenagers.”

Track and field teams

off to great starts

The boys track and field team won three consecutive invitationals entering the Fulton Relays at Lancaster on April 23, and neither the boys nor girls had finished lower than third in any of their first four invitationals.

Girls sprinter Amara Okpalaoka won the long jump in each of her first four events, with a season-best distance of 18 feet, 2 ¼ inches during New Albany’s Friday Night Eagle Invitational on April 16. 

The Toledo recruit also took first in the 400 meters twice, turning in a season-best time of 59.77 seconds during North’s Stingel Invitational on April 10.

Teammate Mayson Bates had three wins in the 300 hurdles, including a season-best 46.25 at Granville.

The boys team’s two Division I recruits – Cincinnati-bound Steven McElroy and Purdue signee Zamen Siyoum – also had successful starts. Siyoum had two wins in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and McElroy won the 100 twice, 200 twice and 400 once.

Siyoum recorded season-best times in the 110 hurdles (14.27) and 300 hurdles (39.38) at Granville. McElroy ran a 10.74 in the 100 in the season-opening Hammond Relays on March 27 at Pickerington Central and 21.58 in the 200 at Granville.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave