Notebook: Westerville North Warriors softball team finds power stroke

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Through 17 games, Emily Jones led the power-hitting North softball team with a .418 batting average, four homers and 16 RBI. She also had scored 15 runs.

The Westerville North softball team has been hitting the long ball effectively throughout the season, with 16 home runs through its first 18 games. 

Eight batters had gone deep for North, which was 10-8 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division through April 28.

“Some of it has to do with pitching, some of it has to do with hitters getting more instruction and also some of it comes from when they moved the pitcher’s rubber back 10 feet (in 2011),” coach Brian Anderson said. “All of those things have something to do with it.”

Six North players hit homers in a 22-0, five-inning league win at Franklin Heights on April 22. Senior Emily Jones, junior Caitlyn Meier and sophomore Natalie Pyke all homered along with three freshmen — Sophie Minister, Anna Williams and Ryanne Wilson.

“We definitely have been getting better as the season has moved along,” Anderson said. “They finally started to settle down and relax. We’re getting better with each week that goes by.”

The Warriors had eight losses through 18 games, but Anderson said that comes from playing quality opponents. Their setbacks have come against some of the area’s top teams, including Lancaster (11-3 on April 23), Mount Vernon (16-0 on April 3), Watkins Memorial (13-0 on March 27) and Westerville Central (14-8 on March 31).

“We’re better than our record,” Anderson said. “We’ve lost to four of the top five teams in the Central District. Grove City is the only one we haven’t played. I think this will pay off come tournament time.”

Through 17 games, Jones led the Warriors with a .418 batting average, four homers and 16 RBI. She also had scored 15 runs. 

Other key contributors have been Zsofia Kacsandi (.404, 2 homers, 13 RBI, 15 runs), Williams (.404, 1 homer, 15 RBI, team-high 18 runs), Riley Farrell (.367, 15 RBI, 13 runs) and Sabrina Hernandez-Krause (.362, 15 runs).

Minister has excelled both at the plate and in the circle. She was batting .367 with two homers and 14 RBI and was 8-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 105 strikeouts. She struck out 11 without a walk in a 6-1 league win at Westerville South on April 27.

“Sophie has been getting better with the command of her pitches and her confidence,” Anderson said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how she’ll be doing over the next few years in the circle.”

•The 3,200-meter relays led the North boys and girls track and field teams in the Wildcat Invitational on April 23 at South.

The girls 3,200 relay of Erin Mayle, Ashley Kisor, Emily Widman and Amanda Cooper won in 10 minutes, 16.25 seconds as the Warriors finished 10th (28.5 points) of 13 teams behind champion Watterson (118).

Cooper placed fourth in the 800 (2:26.84), and Paige Miracle was fifth in the 3,200 (12:29.53). Kellie Koch was sixth in the pole vault (8 feet).

The boys 3,200 relay of Ben Gabelman, Ahmed Madani, Seth Derstine and Isaiah Hutcherson finished second (8:26.25) to help North place 10th (19) as South captured the title (117).

Placing sixth were the 1,600 relay (3:40.87) of Madani, Bryce Absten, Hutcherson and Gabelman, Gabelman in the 1,600 (4:30.97) and Andrew Bracken in the 3,200 (10:17.66). 

—Scott Hennen

•The Central baseball team continues to gain momentum as it prepares for the postseason. The Warhawks were 11-6 overall and 5-3 in the OCC-Ohio before playing New Albany on April 30. 

Central was tied for second in the league with Gahanna, behind Grove City (6-2). 

“We’re having a strong season, but for us to get where we want to go, we need to be more consistent in our approach and execution,” coach Jeff Keifer said. “We have a great group of guys and have had some up-and-down days, usually on consecutive days, but we’re working on improving every day. 

“Our best baseball may still be ahead of us and we’re looking forward to making a league and district title run.” 

The Division I district tournament begins May 17. 

Through 17 games, Jay Tomes was hitting .392, followed by Corbin Caplan (.354), Cullen Hassel (.333) and Evan Schumacher (.316). Schumacher led in runs (19) and RBI (18). 

On the mound, Joey Ohl was 3-2 and had a 4.70 ERA with 22 strikeouts and eight walks in 23 innings. 

—Frank DiRenna 

Brett Zepfel and Central were 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Reynoldsburg on April 30.

•The Central boys volleyball team was 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Reynoldsburg on April 30.

Coach Jimi Yu has been impressed with the play of outside hitter Dylan Bertelsen, middle hitters Aiden Tamulonis and Nicholas Pieroni and libero John Marple. 

“I knew this year was going to be a rebuilding year, so I thought taking more time with the kids was a bit more important than rushing them into competition,” said Yu, whose team beat Reynoldsburg 26-24, 25-13, 25-17 on April 27 in a league match. 

“They’re learning what they’re supposed to learn and they’re trying to reestablish some of the things that got lost from losing last season. We’re on a good track.” 

—Frank DiRenna 

•The South boys tennis team continues to improve under first-year coach Stephanie Thomas, who said the Wildcats have been led by Sammy Gurgiolo, Nikita Kitaev and Adrian Self in singles. 

The Wildcats were 4-5 overall through April 28 and finished 3-4 in the OCC-Capital. 

“We have a pretty young team and they’ve shown growth,” Thomas said. “I’m excited to see them continue to grow and improve.” 

—Frank DiRenna 

•With a relatively young roster, the South boys volleyball team is gaining experience that coach Chris Bielby hopes will pay dividends in the future. 

The Wildcats were 2-12 overall and 0-11 in the OCC-Ohio before facing Central on May 4. 

“They’re enjoying themselves and they’re getting better,” Bielby said. “It’s hard when you’re not getting the results that you want to get, but they understand that they’re doing a sport. … They’re getting a lot of playing time, so they’re getting a lot of experience. Hopefully that pans out going forward. It should.” 

Bielby has been pleased with the play of sophomore setter Nathan Bielby, his son, and senior outside hitter Chuck Williams. 

South has played much of the season without sophomore middle hitter Quentin Sheets, who suffered a thumb injury in a 25-14, 25-19, 25-22 win over Whetstone on April 9. Bielby was hoping Sheets would return before the end of the season. 

“We’re playing, but we’ve only been at full strength for about three matches,” coach Bielby said.  

Before facing Central, the Wildcats’ other win was a 25-18, 26-24, 26-24 victory over Centennial on March 29. 

—Frank DiRenna

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