By Craig Pearson
TERRE HAUTE — Every spring season — and every other high school sports season — freshmen burst onto the high school varsity sports scene, making coaches and veterans in their respective sports take notice.
This year is definitely no different.
On Wednesday, Sullivan freshman Jocelyn Bradford had the highlight of her young track career with wins in the 100-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles at the Western Indiana Conference track meet at Edgewood.
Bradford was thrilled with her victories, but she couldn’t help but mention that her brother, Sullivan sophomore Gene Bradford, would be impressed.
Gene, the school record holder in the 100 hurdles, matched his sister with two WIC titles Friday night.
Jocelyn said she got involved in hurdles after seeing how much success Gene had in middle school. It doesn’t hurt that her father Dan Bradford has helped coach the middle school and high school hurdlers at Sullivan.
Dan Bradford was the city hurdles champion in 1979 for San Pedro High School at Los Angeles.
Jocelyn saw Gene win seventh and eighth grade titles and decided she could achieve that success as well so she did.
Matching her brother by setting a school record in hurdles would be quite an accomplishment, considering Erica Moore set those marks. A freshman at Indiana State, Moore is now one of the top hurdlers in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“I’m happy for [Moore] doing really good, but it’s a lot to live up to,” Bradford said Wednesday. “I’m more happy to look good in my brother’s eyes.”
Sullivan coach Chad Smith said he likes Bradford’s chances of advancing out of the Terre Haute North Sectional on Tuesday. But Bradford will have her hands full with the likes of winning against Terre Haute North’s Miracle Thompson in the 100s and North’s Beth Liebler and South’s Brianne Steppe in the 300s.
Stephanie Fougerousse and Tayler Kail of White River Valley have a family-oriented story as well.
Coached by her mother Ruan Fougerousse, Stephanie is the top hitter for average in the Wabash Valley at .545. Stephanie’s battery mate, Kail is right on her tail at .528. Fougerousse has hit eight home runs, and Kail has three triples.
On the pitching rubber, Fougerousse is as dominant, striking out 162 batters in 112 innings. She has an earned-run average of 0.19. Former college baseball catcher Jeff Kail calls pitches.
“It’s nice to be able to relax and watch them work,” Ruan wrote in an e-mail. “Stephanie and Tayler have been working on their game since they were 6 years old. So it is nice to see their hard work pay off.”
Ruan also wrote that Stephanie has suffered inflammation in her rotator cuff since volleyball season and “hasn’t been able to throw her fastball as fast as she has in the past.”
I’m sure WRV opponents are glad to hear that Fougerousse could be getting stronger near the end of the season.
The young Wolverines will square off against a Clay City team led by freshman pitcher Shelby Targett today in the Clay City, although neither pitcher is likely to see action since sectional action at Clay City is just around the corner.
Freshman Heather Gilbert, had a 24-strikeout performance this week to set a school record for Shakamak against Bloomfield.
The defending sectional champion is North Central, who has a freshman ace pitcher as well. Kate Brown has a 1.09 ERA for the Thunderbirds.
• Terre Haute North has several key freshman softball players — shortstop Kelly Meggs, third baseman Danielle Ketner and No. 2 pitcher Bethany Sullivan.
• West Vigo’s left-handed shorstop, Sam Ritchie is the Vikings’ lead-off hitter and leads the team in runs scored.
• Northview thrower Samantha Solomon showed her future is bright for the next three years in the shot put and discus.
• Andy Amey mentioned many other young baseball standouts earlier this week such as Jacob Hayes, Zach Duggins and Bryn Schwartz of South.
Northview baseball freshman pitcher Caleb Mason picked up his first varsity win Friday against Owen Valley, collecting seven strikeouts.
West Vigo’s Tyler Wampler has been the Vikings’ regular designated hitter most of the season.
• Terre Haute South softball shortstop Macy Toon is still hitting over .300 after a red-hot start to the season. Toon also showed an entertaining walk-like-an Egyptian dance move in pre-game cheering festivities.
• Terre Haute North has several boys and girls track runners to watch out for in the coming years.
Sprinter Ashley Burkins is among the top sprinters in the Valley. She and freshman Alexa McFadden have helped the Patriots’ 400-relay team to the top time registered thus far in the Wabash Valley.
Katie Shew shows a bright future in the 800, and Lindy Jones could be coach Mike Dason’s next great distance runner.
The North boys also have some freshmen with potential, including high jumper Broc Hudson, pole vaulter Luke Lastkins, distance runner John Davis.
Craig Pearson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Read his blog on a variety of local and national sports topics at blogs.tribstar.com/craigpearson.