Notebook: Westerville South Wildcats baseball team captures first district title

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
South baseball coach Tim Bates gets a bucket of water dumped on his head following the Wildcats' 3-2 win over visiting Hilliard Darby in a Division I district final May 26. South captured its first district title after being the runner-up in 1960, 1961 and 1992.

When the Westerville South baseball team met for the first time this year on Feb. 23 to begin practice, the players created a slogan to symbolize a major goal. 

They had the initials DPAD, which stands for “dog pile at district,” printed on their caps. 

The Wildcats fulfilled that goal, celebrating on their home field May 26 after beating seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby 3-2 in a Division I district final. 

Playing in its fourth district title game, fourth-seeded South captured its first championship. The Wildcats were runners-up in 1960, 1961 and 1992. 

“Our team showed up at practice that first day at 7:30 a.m. and they all made a toast,” coach Tim Bates said. “They said we’re not stopping until we get our fourth goal, which is to dog pile at district.” 

The Wildcats’ other goals also were achieved, because they won at least 20 games, captured the OCC-Capital Division title and beat rivals Westerville Central and Westerville North (twice). 

“We now have a new goal: win the state (championship),” Bates said. 

South improved to 26-3 and will play Olentangy Berlin or Olentangy Orange in a regional semifinal June 3 at Dublin Coffman. The winner plays Grove City, Lancaster or New Albany in a regional final June 4 at Coffman. 

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal June 11 at Canal Park in Akron. The state final is June 12 at the same site.

Against Darby, South took its 3-2 lead into the seventh before the Panthers threatened. They got the first two runners on before senior pitcher Logan Hunn capped his complete-game effort by working out of the jam, preserving the win and the district title. 

Hunn allowed seven hits while striking out five and walking two. 

“It’s incredible because we realized that we’re the first ones to do it and we’re paving the way for future generations,” Hunn said of winning a district title. “This was the goal and we’re not done yet; we’re going to keep going.” 

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth inning, the Wildcats struck for three runs. Ryan Phillips, who began the season batting fifth before being moved to eighth, hit a two-run double to left and Kaden Saunders added an RBI single. 

“I can’t believe that we did this,” said Phillips, who finished with two hits. “We’ve never done this before. We had a motto DPAD and we did it. We made that dream a reality — dog pile at district — and we won district. Westerville South has never done that and we did it. The class of 2021 did it.”

Junior Trevor Newtz was second-team all-league for North. He batted .313 with 22 RBI and 15 runs scored and was 3-3 with a 5.10 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 28 walks in 35 2/3 innings.

•The North baseball team came out even after last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, finishing 12-12.

“It was such a strange year because everything was in a different perspective after last year,” 11th-year coach Sean Ring said. “It was kind of like being a first-year head coach again with three-quarters of the program never playing (varsity) before. We re-established who we are and what we need to do day in and day out.”

Senior J.J. Dixon (P/C/2B; second-team all-district, first-team all-league) led North in batting average (.429), runs (33), doubles (10), triples (5), on-base percentage (.495) and slugging percentage (.675) and also had 22 RBI and 25 stolen bases. On the mound, he was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 16 walks in 35 innings.

Junior James McCreery (OF; honorable mention all-district, special mention all-league) batted .390, with 15 RBI, 19 runs and a team-leading 27 stolen bases. Senior Kobe Hunter (1B/OF; honorable mention all-league) had a .385 batting average with 18 RBI, 15 runs and seven doubles.

Junior Trevor Newtz (SS/3B/P; second-team all-league) had a .313 batting average with 22 RBI and 15 runs and was 3-3 with a 5.10 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 28 walks in 35 2/3 innings.

Sophomore Aiden Dickinson (OF) batted .33 with 12 RBI and 19 runs, and junior Donovan Varney (C) hit .304 with nine RBI and 17 runs. Senior Brennan Albertini (1B/P) was 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34 1/3 innings and batted .238 with one home run, 13 RBI, 15 runs and 11 stolen bases.

“We have a lot coming back, which comes from having five seniors, so inevitably you will have a lot of juniors and sophomores,” Ring said. “Positionally, we got some good reps and we should be OK coming back next year.”

—Scott Hennen

•The Central boys lacrosse team’s season was highlighted by finishing with a winning record at 9-8 and beating rivals South (twice) and North (once). 

The Warhawks defeated South 15-6 in the final game of the regular season May 10 and 13-5 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 18. 

Central beat North 16-7 on April 16. 

After beating 11th-seeded South in the regional tournament, the 10th-seeded Warhawks lost 20-5 to top-seeded Upper Arlington in a quarterfinal May 21. 

“Obviously, UA has the tradition, they have the namesake, they’ve been the top dogs for years,” coach Jeremy Schocken said. “They have the history on their side. We knew this was going to be a tough game and we scored a couple good goals, so we can go home happy.” 

Senior attacker Jake Schorling led the team in scoring with 54 goals and 18 assists. 

“Jake was a tremendous captain, great locker room guy, great lead-by-example-type kid,” Schocken said.

Junior midfielder Ian Shealy had 48 goals and 22 assists and freshman attacker Ty Hampton had 44 goals and 25 assists, while senior goalie Logan Moore finished with 251 saves.  

“Logan was outstanding for us all year,” said Schocken, who completed his third season. 

Moore was second-team all-region and Schorling and Shealy were honorable mention all-region. 

—Frank DiRenna 

•The South boys lacrosse team finished 9-9 under fourth-year coach Michael Spatafore. 

“We’re pleased with the year,” said Spatafore, whose team lost 13-5 to Central in the second round of the Division I regional tournament. “It’s a good stepping stone for next year. We’ll return a lot of guys. We only had five seniors. Five is not that many, but they were good players. They’re big shoes to fill.” 

Sophomore attacker Jack Chaney led the Wildcats in scoring with 44 goals and 30 assists, and junior midfielder Karson Lane had 25 goals and six assists. 

They were followed by sophomore midfielder Devray Kirkland (18 goals, 10 assists), junior attacker Bronson Wren (17 goals, 11 assists) and junior midfielder Andy Badu (14 goals, 7 assists).

Junior goalie Miles Wilke finished 119 saves and senior goalie Gavin Miller stopped 60 shots. 

Freshman midfielder/faceoff specialist Connor Staheli was second-team all-region, and Chaney and senior midfielder/faceoff specialist Jack Trimble were honorable mention all-region. 

South defeated North 6-5 on April 6. 

“I love it here and I think we’re moving in the right direction, but we have to finish business,” Spatafore said. 

—Frank DiRenna 

Central boys tennis coach Brian Arnett was pleased with his team’s progress during his final season with the program. 

The Warhawks finished 4-10 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio. 

“We improved as the season progressed,” said Arnett, who is stepping down after 17 seasons. “We became more competitive on all courts. It didn’t always show up in the results, but we definitely got better. I’m happy that (mostly) everyone won one match at sectionals.” 

Central competed in a Division I sectional May 13 at Reynoldsburg. In singles, senior Will Arnett and junior Rohan Mawalkar went 1-1 and junior Nick Buehler went 0-1. In doubles, seniors Jackson Rittman and Sam Rojanasakdakul and senior Michael Weiler and junior Tyler Gebbie went 1-1. 

—Frank DiRenna 

•The North girls lacrosse team was looking to lay the foundation for future success in its first season under coach Norm Deena.

The 15th-seeded Warriors finished 0-15, losing 19-0 to third-seeded Strongsville on May 17 in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament.

“It was a learning season for us,” Deena said. “It was a character-building season.”

Deena said junior midfielder Alison Gruber was the top scorer, while junior Olivia Snyder and senior goalie Rachel Snider (Lourdes commit) led the defense. 

Senior Aubrey McMahon was a leader in the midfield and has committed to play tennis at Otterbein.

Other key players expected to return are junior Jessie Colinsworth (midfielder), sophomores Lillian Gates (midfielder) and Kendyl Luacher (midfielder) and freshmen Alyssa Meyers (midfielder /attacker) and A.J. Palmer (midfielder).

—Scott Hennen

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CENTRAL BOYS LACROSSE 

Record: 9-8 overall 

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1), Central (3-2), Pickerington Central (2-3), Gahanna (1-4), Newark (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Jack Bond, Nick Fasanelli, Jack Feimster, Jimmy Glasser, Sam Goding, Logan Moore, Jake Schorling, C.J. Spinosi and Spencer Stover 

Key returnees: Ty Hampton and Ian Shealy 

Postseason: Defeated Westerville South 13-5; lost to Upper Arlington 20-5 in Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal

CENTRAL BOYS TENNIS 

Record: 4-10 overall 

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (4-0), Gahanna (3-1), Pickerington North (2-2), Grove City (1-3), Central (0-4) 

Seniors lost: Will Arnett, Josh Qian, Jackson Rittman, Sam Rojanasakdakul, Michael Weiler and Luke Welling 

Key returnees: Nick Buehler, Tyler Gebbie and Rohan Mawalkar 

NORTH BASEBALL

Record: 12-12 overall

OCC-Capital standings: South (12-2), Canal Winchester (11-3), Worthington Kilbourne (9-5), Dublin Scioto (8-6), Big Walnut (6-6), North (5-7), Delaware (3-11), Franklin Heights (0-14)

Seniors lost: Brennan Albertini. J.J. Dixon, Kobe Hunter, Cole Merrell and Ty O’Hearn 

Key returnees: James McCreery and Trevor Newtz

Postseason: Lost to Marysville 5-1 in first round of Division I district tournament

NORTH GIRLS LACROSSE

Record: 0-15 overall

OCC-Capital standings: Kilbourne (5-0), Scioto (4-1), Big Walnut, Delaware and South (all 2-3), North (0-5)

Seniors lost: Olivia Evans, Katie Koch, Aubrey McMahon and Rachel Snider

Key returnees: Jessie Collinsworth, Lillian Gates, Alison Gruber, Kendyl Luacher, Alyssa Meyers, A.J. Palmer and Olivia Snyder 

Postseason: Lost to Strongsville 19-0 in first round of Division I, Region 1 tournament

SOUTH BOYS LACROSSE 

Record: 9-9 overall 

OCC-Capital standings: Kilbourne (5-0), Delaware (4-1), Big Walnut, North and South (all 2-3), Scioto (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Kenton Flood, Donovan Hunt, Gavin Miller, Sam Swisher and Jack Trimble 

Key returnees: Jack Chaney, Karson Lane, Miles Wilke and Connor Staheli 

Postseason: Lost to Central 13-5 in second round of Division I, Region 3 tournament