Notebook: Westerville South Wildcats softball squad moving in right direction

Frank DiRenna
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Megan Shoemaker has been a key contributor for South, which was 12-8 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Capital before playing Big Walnut on April 26. Shoemaker threw her second no-hitter of the season in an 8-0 victory over Dublin Scioto on April 22.

When Emily Swank-Kavanaugh took over the Westerville South softball team in June 2017, she envisioned helping the Wildcats return to a spot among the top programs in central Ohio. 

With a winning record as the Division I postseason draw nears, South appears to be moving toward that goal. 

The Wildcats were 12-8 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Big Walnut on April 26. They entered the game on a four-game winning streak, including an 8-0 victory over Dublin Scioto on April 22 as senior pitcher Megan Shoemaker threw her second no-hitter of the season, striking out seven and walking one. 

“We’re on the up and up,” Swank-Kavanaugh said. “What I was hired to do was to rebuild and try to put together some type of winning combination and I think we’re doing that. Our hitting has come a long way. We have some upperclassmen who have been in the program since I’ve been here. 

“Three seasons, but four years, so this year’s senior class came in with me as freshmen. We’ve all rebuilt it together.” 

The Wildcats have been led in the circle by Shoemaker, who went the distance in a 7-2 victory over Worthington Kilbourne on April 20, allowing four hits while striking out 12 and walking three. 

“Her stuff is breaking really well and she’s had tremendous success in our conference,” Swank-Kavanaugh said. “She’s getting the job done for us.” 

Cierra James, Maddie Millington, Cece Stoever and Kayti Williams each had two hits against Kilbourne and Savannah Mays hit a home run. 

•The South baseball team was 10-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Capital before facing Westerville North on April 23. 

The Wildcats avenged a 3-0 loss to Big Walnut on April 19 by beating the Golden Eagles 10-3 on April 20 behind the pitching of Andrew Collinsworth, who improved to 3-0. 

Through 12 games, Brayden White led South with a .500 batting average and 19 hits, followed by Logan Hunn (.429) and Jack Bates (.417). 

The Wildcats’ pitching staff had a 2.34 ERA. 

“The three games that we’ve lost (before April 23), we scored two or less runs,” coach Tim Bates said. “Any time we score four runs, we win. That’s because of our pitching staff. The pitching staff is phenomenal.” 

—Frank DiRenna 

Central baseball coach Jeff Keifer points to strong “chemistry” as a key to his team’s success. 

The Warhawks were 8-4 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on April 23. They lost to the Lions 10-1 on April 22. 

“We have great chemistry and work ethic, and have room to grow in all aspects of the game, but when we’re clicking, we can be a dangerous team,” Keifer said. “Our league may be the best in central Ohio, so each game will be a grind and we hope to be in contention at the end.” 

Through 11 games, Jay Tomes was batting .452, followed by Corbin Caplan (.353), Evan Schumacher (.324) and Owen Franks (.316). Brad Leonard led the team in RBI with 14. 

Joey Ohl was 3-1 and had a 3.38 ERA with 18 strikeouts and seven walks in 16 innings. 

—Frank DiRenna

Central boys tennis coach Brian Arnett has been pleased with his team’s improvement despite its 2-7 record heading into a match against Watkins Memorial on April 26. 

“We’re improving overall as a team but that just hasn’t necessarily been reflected in scores, as we’ve played some really quality teams,” said Arnett, whose team was 0-3 in the OCC-Ohio before facing New Albany on April 27.

The Warhawks’ first two wins came against Buckeye Valley (4-0 on April 9) and Mount Vernon (5-0 on April 5). 

Arnett said Jackson Rittman and Sam Rojanasakdakul have “been a bright spot and the most competitive court” at first doubles. 

—Frank DiRenna

•The North boys tennis team is having its best season since 2017 when it finished 10-6.

The Warriors were 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital after losing to Kilbourne 4-1 on April 22.

Senior first-singles player Carter Jones was unbeaten through eight matches, and North also has received strong performances from freshman Tyler Jones at second singles and freshman Shrey Shyamalan at third singles.

“Carter Jones has not lost and he sets the tone for the entire team,” second-year coach Jim Chellis said. “Our second and third singles are both freshmen and you never know how they’ll react, but they keep playing hard no matter the situation.”

In league play, the Warriors defeated Franklin Heights 5-0 on April 6, South 4-1 on April 13, Canal Winchester 5-0 on April 15 and Big Walnut 3-2 on April 20. They play Dublin Scioto at home April 28 and at Delaware on April 30 to close the OCC-Capital slate.

—Scott Hennen

•J.J. Dixon was the pitching leader and also has been formidable at the plate for the North baseball team, which was 8-3 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital after defeating Delaware 10-4 on April 22.

Dixon was 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA, 19 strikeouts and 10 walks in 22 innings and was batting .472 with 14 RBI, 16 runs, three triples and six stolen bases.

James McCreery was hitting a team-leading .515 with nine RBI, 12 runs and a team-high 13 stolen bases, while Kobe Hunter was hitting .429 with nine RBI and nine runs.

Trevor Newtz had a .423 batting average with 14 RBI and 11 runs, and was 1-1 with a 5.46 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 15 walks in 16 2/3 innings. 

Aiden Dickinson was batting .355 with eight RBI and 14 runs, and Brennan Albertini was hitting .300 with one home run, 11 RBI, eight runs and seven stolen bases.

—Scott Hennen

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