Spring brings success in sport
Rays of Insight
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 8:35 AM
Hope springs eternal.
At least, that’s true of teams in the preseason.
Before the games, matches and meets begin each year, every team has hope.
Teams that have been high performers hope for more of the same. Those that have been in the middle of the pack hope to take the next step. And programs that have struggled hope this will be the year everything turns around.
For some of those teams, those hopes come to fruition. For others, reality, and sometimes disappointment, sets in. And for a rare few, the results are greater than even they could have dreamed.
Such has been the case for some area athletes and teams.
Consider the way the South Adams High School sophomore’s season ended last year.
He threw 111 feet, 6 inches, in the sectional discus competition at Wayne. He finished in 13th place, failing to make the cut for the finals.
Now, he’s a team leader, school-record breaker and strong contender for a state berth.
LeFever didn’t just win the discus in front of his home fans Friday at the South Adams Invitational, he shattered a school record that had stood for nearly three decades.
He surpassed the mark of 144 feet, 8 inches, set by John Wanner in 1986 with a toss of 153 feet, 7 inches, on his third throw. Then, proving it was far from a fluke, he surpassed his new record by nearly two feet as he won the event at 155 feet, 6 inches.
A toss that far would have won him not only the 2013 sectional title, but would have been best in the regional by 9 feet.
Faith Parr and
Coming off of a sectional championship last season, the Jay County girls tennis team had high hopes for a winning record.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, they’ve ended up on the wrong end of quite a few 3-2 decisions this year. But Faith Parr and Emily Westgerdes have been a juggernaut at No. 2 doubles.
The juniors remain undefeated with the sectional tournament just over a week away.
Their victories have not always been easy, and their perfect record was nearly marred in just the second match of the year. They lost their opening set and trailed 5-1 in the second against Bellmont, but roared back to win six of the next seven games en route to a 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory.
Westgerdes and Parr have taken every match since then, including a move up from No. 2 doubles to No. 1 against South Adams, in straight sets.
The Indians had been trending in the right direction under coach Jerry Kaup.
Fort Recovery won just two games each in 2010 and ’11 before beginning their climb. After showing improvement in 2012, they managed to get above .500 with a 15-14 record last season.
The Tribe’s performance this season has been better than even the players and coaches could have expected.
After dropping its season opener to Celina, the Indians rattled off 13 victories in a row. They climbed all the way to No. 2 in the Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Division IV poll, and are ranked eighth this week.
Jackson Hobbs, whose season was in doubt after a knee injury during football, has led the resurgence with a 6-1 record and a 0.48 ERA. He also has a team-best .448 batting average, with teammates Elijah Kahlig, Jacob Muhlenkamp, Mitchell Stammen, Cole Wendel, Chase Bruns and Derek Backs all hitting .325 or better.
Before the season, the Patriots thought they had a chance to break the school record of 17 wins. They can do it tonight at Blackford, in their 19th game of the season.
Jay County was perfect through the first half of its schedule, winning its opening 16 games before finally falling Saturday to an Adams Central squad that has played in the Class 2A state championship game in each of the last two seasons. It came back to earn a walk-off win in the second game of the double-header against the Flying Jets, tying the record that was set in 2008.
The Patriots have often been good since the inception of the program 1989, but have never risen to the ranks of the elite. Pitching has been the difference.
While JCHS has had some solid pitchers, it took just one inning watching her last season for it to become clear Larissa Boles is the best the school has ever seen. She’s gotten even better in her junior season, sporting a 0.65 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.
Her pitching prowess, with the support of a lineup in which she, Courtney Finnerty, Catherine Dunn and Chelsea Tighe are all hitting .400 or better, has led the Patriots to new heights.
Now the hope is that they just keep climbing higher, with a record-breaking win tonight, the first sectional championship in school history in a couple of weeks and a deep tournament run to follow.