Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: Rams baseball team shows signs of improvement

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Senior pitcher/shortstop Jace Peck has set the tone for the Whitehall-Yearling baseball team this season. “Jace is swinging the bat really well,” coach Johnny DeRing said. “We can’t be without him on defense. I hope his hard playing rubs off on the other guys.”

Despite his team’s recent struggles, Whitehall-Yearling baseball coach Johnny DeRing has remained upbeat. 

The Rams were 2-8 overall and 2-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Columbus Academy on April 23. 

“I’m going to tell them to keep their heads up, keep fighting and keep competing,” DeRing said. “A lot of people are saying this team isn’t getting any better. They actually are getting better. We’re doing the best we can. This is the reality of it.” 

Whitehall lost two league games to Grandview, but showed improvement in the rematch. The Rams lost to the visiting Bobcats 24-1 in five innings April 19 before falling 6-1 the following day at Grandview. 

Senior Jace Peck went the distance in the rematch, allowing two earned runs and five hits while striking out 11 and walking three. Batting leadoff, he had three of Whitehall’s four hits and added an RBI. 

Peck had two hits and Jacob Leach and Christian Smart each had one in the first loss to Grandview. 

“We’ll turn this around,” DeRing said. “Like I’ve said all the season, we have to make routine plays. We’ll be fine.” 

DeRing said the strong performance of Peck, who also is playing shortstop, was a bright spot during the recent disappointing play. 

“Jace is swinging the bat really well,” DeRing said. “We can’t be without him on defense. I hope his hard playing rubs off on the other guys.” 

DeRing also said the relief pitchers have performed well. 

“The kids that are coming in to pitch are staying in there and working their tails off, and that’s all you can ask for,” he said. 

Whitehall will close league play with games against Worthington Christian on April 30 and Buckeye Valley on May 3 and 5. 

Track teams excel 

in home meet 

The boys and girls track and field teams turned in strong showings April 16 during the home Pat McMillin Invitational, with the boys finishing first (108) of 12 teams ahead of second-place Pickerington Central (102). 

“We are starting to figure out what kind of team we are,” coach Kyle Jefferson said of the boys team. “We love to compete and always expect to win races. Our coaching staff is also starting to piece together what events are best for each athlete. Our team is pretty young, and with (COVID-19) last year, we didn’t really know where our strengths would lie.” 

Winners for the Rams were Jeremiah Harrison in the 100 meters (11.02 seconds), Will Solomon in the 300 hurdles (43.27), Harrison, Taron Biles-Walker, Keith Hodge and Kevin Jackson in the 800 relay (1:30.67), Harrison, Biles-Walker, Jackson and Andre Jackson in the sprint medley relay (1:35.77) and Solomon, Hodge, Marcus Anderson and Kyzion Freeman in the 440 shuttle hurdles relay (1:01.04). 

“They enjoyed the win, but we definitely have some room for improvement,” Jefferson said. 

The girls finished sixth (36) of 12 teams behind champion Central (97). Chaniya Harris, Ry’Yair Smith, Kayla Bagley and Kaseena Reese finished second in the 400 relay (53.57) to lead the Rams. 

“I thought our girls went out and competed,” Jefferson said. “Our biggest downside all year has been depth. The girls we have competing are doing well; we just didn’t have enough athletes in each event to win the meet. It is clear that they are getting more comfortable on the track, and their times show it.” 

Boys tennis team  

earns first win 

Boys tennis coach Anthony Paletta continues to see growth within his program. 

The Rams earned their first win of the season by beating Beechcroft 3-2 on April 15. They were 1-7 overall and 0-3 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Academy on April 22. 

Raymond Zhen and Sam McQuate have split time at first singles. 

Whitehall was competitive in 3-2 losses to Hamilton Township on April 19 and Franklin Heights on April 12. 

“We’ve had amazing progress,” Paletta said. “My singles lineup is pretty strong. We’re getting there. A lot of our guys are starting to get some skills. I have a lot of depth.”

Academy coach Marc Wurtzman has been impressed with Paletta’s commitment to his program.

“He does a good job,” Wurtzman said. “He has really good kids and he gets them exposed to the game. He has a passion for the game and those kids are lucky to have him.”

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank