After squandering 10-0 and 7-1 starts to this season, respectively, Gibsonburg's baseball and softball teams are now trying to right the ship.
The baseball team lost three of its last four games through April 28, falling to 11-3 and 1-3 in the Suburban Lakes League.
"I tell them it's a long season," Coach Kyle Rase said. "My biggest thing is I want to be playing our best baseball after May 1 for the stretch run to the tournament. I told them we have 10 games left and let's try to win all 10."
Gibsonburg's softball team, under first-year coach in Kyle Leatherman, started the season 7-1 but has fallen to 8-4 and 1-3 in the SLL. The Bears lost to Eastwood 9-1 on Monday and also recently suffered a 7-0 loss to Elmwood and a 2-1 setback to Genoa in 13 innings.
"We had girls who would come up with big hits in key situations," Leatherman said of his team's hot start. "And we had a lot of girls playing with a lot of confidence. Hitting is like a light switch. Some days you're on and some days you're off. Lately we've kind of hit a slump and we hit that at a bad part of our schedule. I think we'll be able to turn that back around."
Gibsonburg's baseball team lost to Genoa 9-0 last Wednesday, then fell to Eastwood 14-10 and suffered a 30-12 loss to Elmwood last Friday.
"The wheels came off at Elmwood," Rase said. "The wind was blowing out, and that's a bad team to play when the wind's blowing out. Pop-ups were just going out of the park. They're a great team."
The Bears bounced back from that loss the very next day, crushing an inexperienced Old Fort squad 26-0. The Stockaders have not fielded a varsity baseball team since 2006.
The Golden Bears, who finished fourth in the SLL last season, had "some good hitting and good pitching" through 10 games, according to Rase. He added that the talent in the SLL is sometimes hard to match up with because Gibsonburg is one of the smaller schools in the league.
"The SLL plays great baseball," Rase said. "We've faced Genoa and Eastwood, and they've received state coaches' votes. Elmwood is always good. We've played some great competition."
Senior catcher Pat Cantrell went 3-for-3 against Eastwood to raise his average to .568. He also has 16 RBI.
"Lately he's understanding it as far as getting the count in his favor and getting hitters' pitches," Rase said. "He decides in his mind and he hits it hard."
Sophomore Brett Diekman, who has been moved up to No. 2 in the batting order, homered against Eastwood and Old Fort and is hitting .425 with a team-high 24 RBI.
"He's hot," Rase said, "so I'm trying to get him as many at-bats as I can."
James Cantrell, the identical twin brother of Pat Cantrell, is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA, with 31 strikeouts in 22 innings.
"James is very durable," Rase said. "He can throw a lot of innings and he doesn't get rattled. I'm really pleased with my (six) seniors. It's a good group of guys who are friends and they work really hard and they have good leadership."
Leatherman said injuries have slowed the Golden Bears' softball team.
"We have some girls who are a little dinged up right now," he said. "Alaina (Haubert) hasn't pitched in a couple days. She pitched really well against Genoa but she's had some back problems. Hopefully she'll be back to 100 percent shortly.
"Sam Stainbrook has been pitching well. She gave up some hits against Elmwood and Eastwood and they capitalized on them. We haven't been able to string enough hits together to score runs."
Haubert, a senior who also plays third base, is 4-2 with a 2.11 ERA. She is also hitting .350 with six doubles and nine runs scored. Stainbrook, a junior, is 3-2 with a 3.17 ERA, while senior first baseman Reba Burmeister is hitting .444 with eight RBI.
"She's had a lot of big two-out hits lately," Leatherman said. "Whenever we need a big hit, she always seems to be at the plate. She has a lot of confidence right now."
Kristi Krotzer, a senior second baseman, is hitting .353 and has scored nine runs.
"She has started a lot of innings for us, getting things going," Leatherman said. "And, she has played phenomenal defensively."
Leatherman said he is confident the Bears can return to their winning ways.
"We can turn things around the second time through the league if we can get our bats going," he said. "We're going to surprise some people. I'm pretty optimistic about the res