Westland Roundup: Cougars baseball team looking for spark

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Westland’s Brady Gray delivers a pitch against Gahanna on April 13. After a 5-2 start, the Cougars were 7-9 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Westerville Central on April 28.

As Westland baseball coach Brent Shannon met with his team following a 19-1, five-inning loss to visiting Westerville Central on April 26, he stressed the importance of preparation and playing with energy. 

After beginning the season 5-2, the Cougars had lost seven of nine games before a rematch with the Warhawks on April 28 in an OCC-Ohio Division contest. 

Westland entered the game 7-9 overall and 0-7 in the league.

In the first meeting, the Cougars fell behind 8-0 in the second inning. 

“We had a lack of motivation,” Shannon said. “I caught it from the get-go. I told them they had no energy. I knew this game was going to be quick unless we picked up the energy and we didn’t, and it showed in the first two innings. ... We have to get off to a better start.” 

Franklin Ramirez Lara’s RBI double in the third inning accounted for Westland’s run. 

“We’re a lot better than this,” Ramirez Lara said. “We came out with no energy, no effort. We weren’t ready. We have to have a better energy. We have to come out ready to play.” 

Central coach Jeff Keifer was impressed with Shannon’s handling of the Cougars during the game. It was the first contest between the programs as league opponents. 

“I talked to him a little bit before the game,” Keifer said. “It sounds like he knows a lot about baseball with some of the stuff that they were saying. Their kids were well-prepared. It wasn’t that they were out of position or made mistakes, we were just a little bit better. That’s some of the growing pains when you’re building up a program that you go through.” 

On April 24, the Cougars defeated Franklin Heights for the third time this season, winning 14-0 in six innings. 

Ramirez Lara turned in a complete-game effort with 12 strikeouts and helped his cause at the plate with three doubles and five RBI. 

“I feel like I’m one of the leaders of this team,” Ramirez Lara said. “I have a lot of experience and I help the younger kids.” 

Brady Gray doubled twice and drove in a run, and Sam Schneider had two hits and scored twice. 

Westland also beat Franklin Heights 5-3 on April 10 and 5-1 on March 30. 

The Cougars play host to Grove City in an OCC-Ohio contest May 3. 

“This league is one of the best in central Ohio and it shows every day when we play them,” Shannon said. “We have to learn from our mistakes, learning who some of these teams are. I’m seeing them for the first time myself. We’ll respond.” 

Senior Alyssa Mullet throws the ball back to the infield during a game against Canal Winchester on March 30. After being in quarantine because of COVID-19, the Cougars were scheduled to return to action April 28 against Gahanna.

Softball team 

returns to action 

After being in quarantine because of COVID-19, the softball team was scheduled to return to action April 28 against Gahanna. 

The Cougars returned to practice April 26 with limited players. 

Westland was 2-10 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing the Lions. 

“We’re still working our way back through the COVID protocol,” coach Sarah Shellenbarger said. “We have a tough schedule once we get back all the way through the end of the season.” 

Brendan Sullivan has been named Westland boys soccer coach.

New soccer

coaches named 

Pending school board approval, Westland will have a pair of new soccer coaches. 

Brendan Sullivan will succeed Jamie Dato as boys coach, and Michael Buschur will replace Nick Courtright as girls coach. 

Sullivan, 25, is the girls basketball coach at Brookpark Middle School in Grove City and a special education instructor at Westland. 

He is a 2014 graduate of Grove City and was a midfielder on the soccer team under Dato. He also played one year of college soccer at Defiance.

Dato went 29-50-6 overall and 4-21 in the OCC in five seasons with the Cougars. He coached Grove City for six years before stepping down following the 2013 season. 

“What coach Dato did and the process he brought, I’m really looking forward to building upon that and seeing how far we can take this program,” Sullivan said. 

Buschur is the baseball coach at Columbus West.  

“I haven’t met a kid who hasn’t loved coach Buschur after he has coached them,” Westland athletics director Brian Lowery said. “He just knows how to reach kids in his way. He knows how to get them to follow him. You end up loving him as a coach. He’s an outstanding guy who can adapt to whatever kind of personality he has. They’re going to love him.” 

The Cougars went 5-27 overall and 0-10 in the OCC under Courtright, who resigned after two seasons.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank