TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute North’s baseball team hasn’t participated in an IHSAA regional since 2006. West Vigo’s wait hasn’t been as long, but it was 2010 when the Vikings last advanced from a sectional.
Both teams are talented, but the postseason experience isn’t there. Could nervousness play a factor as both teams compete in regionals today?
If practice demeanor is any indication, don’t bet on it.
North coach Shawn Turner and West Vigo coach Steve DeGroote both complimented their teams on their preparation for their regional tasks. North opens the Class 4A Avon Regional with a semifinal contest against Brownsburg. West Vigo plays the afternoon semifinal against Crawfordsville in the Class 3A Mount Vernon (Fortville) Regional.
“They’ve been pretty well-focused most of the year, but especially the last week or 10 days. Practices have been upbeat and relaxed, but in a way that’s productive for us,” Turner said of the Patriots.
West Vigo clinched its sectional championship last Saturday and has had a week to prepare. Considering that West Vigo played 10 games in 11 days culminating in the sectional crown, the rest was welcome.
“I’m hoping that’s good. We were continually playing, they were in tune. For some this is new, it’s a new chance to play in something like this. They worked hard this week, they worked hard all year,” DeGroote said.
North and West Vigo are two of four area teams competing in regionals today. Class A No. 4 Shakamak is vying for its ninth regional title since 2002 as it plays Indianapolis Lutheran in the Morristown Regional. Rockville travels to Lafayette to play host Central Catholic in another Class A sectional.
When North meets Brownsburg, it will be two powerful lineups knocking heads. The Bulldogs (17-9) have three players who hit .400 or better — Haden Shipman (.471) Mike Hartnagel (.468) and Tyler Houston (.453). Hartnagel and Houston combined to hit 11 home runs as well.
“They’ve got two kids in their lineup who are as dominant in 4A as anyone. We’ll have to be cautious and attentive to pitch to them. They’re pretty balanced,” Turner said.
Of course, North (24-6) boasts its own trio of .400 or better hitters — and the Patriots have hit with more power. Sam Wolf (.469), T.J. Collett (.424) and Gabe Sevigny (.404) are the Patriots’ mainstays. Collett (9 HR) and Wolf (8 HR) provide the long ball threats.
Not that Turner feels he has to rely on the trio.
“The thing about our team offensively is that our kids have seen every one of our starters and some of the bench come through in big games to be the deciding factor in being victorious. I’m not looking at Collett or Wolf knowing they need to do everything,” Turner said.
If North gets past Brownsburg, the challenge becomes stiffer. Unbeaten Cathedral looms on the other side of the bracket. The No. 2 Fighting Irish face perennial power Greenfield-Central in the other Avon semifinal.
Turner wouldn’t tip his hand on what his pitching plan was other than to say that Austin Hicks (9-2, 2.42) will see the mound.
At the 3A regional, the Vikings have a history with No. 7 Crawfordsville.
The teams met in a 2008 semistate championship game. The Athenians won in extra innings. The 2011 3A state champions have won eight sectional championships and possess the postseason experience the Vikings don’t have yet.
“They’re tough and they have strength, we’re going through [to the regional] because we worked hard. When we work hard, we’re tough. We belong here and I want our kids to go in believing that,” DeGroote said.
West Vigo won its sectional despite the loss of Cade Lindsey and Austin Wallace to injury. DeGroote said both might play Saturday, but if they did, it would likely be in a reduced role.
“I think if we need to use them in a pitching role or a fill-in role, they could do it, but I think we’ll have to go as we are,” DeGroote said.
If West Vigo (21-5) can get past Crawfordsville (23-10), DeGroote feels good about West Vigo’s pitching depth. Kevin Stewart will pitch against the Athenians and he’s been tough at 8-1. Should West Vigo advance, Lucas Fagg and Brandon Calleja would both be available against Danville or Indianapolis Brebeuf.
“It just feel this, if we get by the first game, I don’t think anyone can beat us with our next pitcher,” DeGroote said.
Elsewhere, it’s a familiar setting and field for Shakamak.
The Lakers (25-4) played, and won, the Morristown Regional last season. Lutheran, University School and Rising Sun were also in the Morristown Regional in 2012. The Lakers beat University and Rising Sun to advance.
Shakamak could face the No. 6 Shiners in the championship game again. Rising Sun is 21-3 and both teams are favorites to handle their semifinal foes.
Shakamak boasts an enviable 1-2 pitching punch in Brett and Braxton Yeryar. Brett is 6-0 this season, while Braxton is 6-2.
Shakamak was originally scheduled to play the morning game at Morristown, but its game time was changed to 12:30 p.m. to accommodate University School’s afternoon graduation.
Rockville (15-15) won its Class A sectional on Monday with a 10-4 victory over Covington. The Rox reward? A regional date with defending state champion Lafayette Central Catholic on its home diamond.
The Rox outscored its sectional foes by a 18-7 margin, but Central Catholic did not allow a run in winning its sectional. Second-ranked LCC (27-5) defeated No. 1 Frontier 2-0 in the sectional championship game.
IHSAA baseball regionals
Class 4A Avon Regional
Brownsburg (17-9) vs. Terre Haute North (24-6), 10 a.m.
Greenfield-Central (23-7-1) vs. Indianapolis Cathedral (25-0), 45 minutes after first game
Championship, 7 p.m.
Class 3A Mount Vernon Regional
Danville (9-15) vs. Indianapolis Brebeuf (12-12), 11 a.m.
West Vigo (21-5) vs. Crawfordsville (23-10), 1 p.m.
Championship, 8 p.m.
Class A Morristown Regional
Rising Sun (21-3) vs. University (10-9), 10 a.m.
Shakamak (25-4) vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (18-7-1), 12:30 p.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.
Class A Lafayette Central Catholic Regional
Rockville (15-15) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (27-5), 11 a.m.
Monroe Central (17-12) vs. Seton Catholic (17-13), 1 p.m.
Championship, 8 p.m.