TERRE HAUTE —
Shawn Turner doesn’t have a problem identifying the high school baseball favorite at today’s Class 4A Avon Regional.
“On paper, I don’t know why the other three of us bother showing up,” the Terre Haute North coach said Friday when referring to top-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral.
Today’s games are not played on paper, to extend the cliche a little farther, and they are not going to be played in the same order they were originally scheduled either. The 22-7 Patriots will not play the 10 a.m. opener, as originally listed, but will wait until today’s second game to meet 18-10 New Castle.
Ben Davis (19-12), which has a 2 p.m. graduation today, will meet the 28-3 Irish at 10 a.m., with the winners to play for the championship at 7 p.m.
So heavily favored is Cathedral that Turner wonders if the Irish will save their ace — USA Today All-America selection Ashe Brenton-Russell — for the championship game. The Patriots, Turner added, will not have that option.
“You have to be in the [championship] game in order to win the game,” he noted, “and New Castle’s strength is hitting the baseball. … They want to outscore you, and they are young and scrappy.”
The Patriot coach indicated he wouldn’t be afraid to use any of as many as 10 pitchers in matchup situations today, although senior Austin Hicks is expected to get the most important moments and Greg Hannum and Tristan Pate both had effective sectional performances.
Hitting has been a North strength too, of course, led by sophomore catcher T.J. Collett and his 17 home runs and many intentional walks. Turner expressed frustration that Collett — whose slugging percentage would be over .900 if only his homers were counted — isn’t seeing more pitches to hit, but hasn’t been disappointed about production from other Patriots when opponents elect to put Collett on base.
Jonathan Eilbracht was pesky in the leadoff spot during sectional play, with Zach Milam a proven bat behind him — and in front of Collett — and Nathan Will, Cody Maloon, Lane Dransfield and Chase Jones also swinging big sticks.
North hasn’t faced any of the other three teams at Avon, incidentally — not even Ben Davis, which dropped the Patriots to add the new Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference teams.
Two of the other four Wabash Valley teams playing regional games today will face the top-ranked team in their class.
South Vermillion plays No. 1 Wapahani in the 11 a.m. opener of the Class 2A Wabash Regional — strength of schedule might be one advantage for the Wildcats — and No. 5 Rockville tackles No. 1 Frontier in the second game of the Class A Carroll (Flora) Regional.
Linton, a regional team for the fourth time in the past five seasons, will have to face fifth-ranked Austin in the Miners’ first game at the Class 2A Providence Regional in Clarksville while third-ranked Shakamak is the on-paper favorite at the Class A Morristown Regional and plays Greenwood Christian first. Both the Miners and Lakers play the second semifinal game at their respective sites.
Other championship games are 7 p.m. at Providence and Morristown, 7:30 p.m. at Carroll and 8 p.m. at Wabash.
Indiana baseball regionals
Class 4A, at Avon
Indianapolis Cathedral (28-3) vs. Ben Davis (19-12), 10 a.m., followed by New Castle (18-10) vs. Terre Haute North (22-7); championship 7 p.m.
Class 2A, at Wabash
Wapahani (26-4) vs. South Vermillion (14-9), 11 a.m., followed by Elwood (19-12) vs. Southwood (20-7); championship 8 p.m.
Class 2A, at Providence (Clarksville)
Evansville Mater Dei (20-9) vs. Providence (18-10, 11 a.m., followed by Linton (14-15) vs. Austin (27-4); championship 7 p.m.
Class A, at Carroll (Flora)
Seton Catholic (15-9) vs. Monroe Central (15-11), 10 a.m., followed by Frontier (25-5) vs. Rockville (25-3); championship 7:30 p.m.
Class A, at Morristown
Jac-Cen-Del (19-7) vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (20-7), 10 a.m., followed by Greenwood Christian (16-13) vs. Shakamak (23-6); championship 7 p.m.