TERRE HAUTE —
A seven-day stretch begins on Tuesday that will include Big Four Classic matchups in baseball and softball and a four-way track meet at Terre Haute South.
And tonight’s high school tennis matchup between 12th-ranked Terre Haute North and host Terre Haute South should set the tone for a busy week of rivalry matchups.
While North carries a 5-0 record and multiple wins over ranked teams in the state, Terre Haute South is 6-2 and has the talent to win any of these five matchups on the tennis court.
South’s No. 1 doubles team of Sofia Saylor and Pam Dorman has lost just once so far. Their matchup with Caroline Potter and Samantha Dougherty could be an entertaining one.
“I really like the way they’re playing right now,” South coach Bill Blankenbaker said of Saylor and Dorman. “We’re looking forward to it. [Terre Haute North’s] ranked No. 12 and playing good.”
The Big Four baseball can typically be considered a toss-up among four competitive teams, and this year is no different.
Defending Big Four champion Terre Haute North may have the state’s top power hitter in T.J. Collett, who is hitting over .500 with 10 home runs through the Patriots’ 11-4 start to the season.
He’s surrounded by plenty of other productive hitters — Nathan Will, Jonathan Eilbracht and Zach Milam to name a few — but Terre Haute South, West Vigo and Northview also are capable of putting up explosive offensive performances.
The Braves (12-4) are led by Justin Jenkins and a near-.500 average with double-digit steals, and Jacob Johnson, Jared Wolfe and Austin Slover all at or near the .400 mark.
South is averaging about 71⁄2 runs per game, but coach Kyle Kraemer knows strong performances from his starting pitchers are what it takes to win this tournament.
Timmy Herrin had a 1.40 earned-run average going into Saturday’s doubleheader against Robinson, and Logan Ames and Grant Ellis have also pitched well.
“It’s just a matter of consistency with our pitching staff,” Kraemer said. “Timmy’s issue is he has to throw strikes. Been walking too many batters. Logan Ames seems to get too much of the plate at times. Grant Ellis has been good as of late. Our top three pitchers are two sophomores and a junior. We’re going to have some of those growing pains.”
Coach Culley DeGroote at West Vigo has seen some of his younger pitchers develop as the season has progressed. The 10-3 Vikings will get things started with a Big Four/Western Indiana Conference rivalry matchup against Northview on Tuesday at Brazil.
Davie Inman leads a Viking pitching staff that is proving itself.
“We were hoping we could be one of those good teams in the area,” DeGroote said. “We’ve gotten a lot better the last couple weeks. They’re starting to prove themselves a little bit. It’s a good thing when they go out and get tested and battle through it.”
Joe Ball is 3-1 on will be the mound for a 9-6 Northview squad.
“You’ve got capable hitters and pitchers. The pitching and defense might be more of a showcase than anything else,” North coach Shawn Turner said. “Northview, South and West Vigo are all three strong teams. It’s not unlike any other year. It boils down to who’s making the least mistakes.”
Track and field
Saturday is one more chance for athletes to get dialed in as they progress toward the postseason.
Terre Haute North girls figure to be tough to beat in team scoring behind likely state finals qualifiers like Lindsay Welker (800), Keirra Porter (100 meters, long jump) and DaShana Johnson (sprints).
The Patriots have potential winners in other events with Rachel Gutish in the pole vault, and the 400-meter relay and 1,600 relays will be tough to beat.
South’s Emani Tatum is coming off a win over Porter in the long jump to win the Conference Indiana crown, so Saturday is a rematch for those two. Throw in Northview’s Leanna Knight and it could be a tense competition.
“Keirra is looking forward to it,” North coach Mike Dason said.
The Patriots’ distance ace, Jessi Conley, is coming off a personal-best time of 5:10.66 in the 1,600. If she can shave two-tenths off that, Conley could break Chanli Mundy’s school record.
Terre Haute South’s Nikki Thiede and Katie Schmidt are the top female 3,200 runners based upon their Conference Indiana performances.
And the Braves’ boys team will be led by its distance runners.
“Our big three of Jackson Bertoli, Riley Stohler and Spencer Danielson scored 33 of our 67 points at the Conference Indiana meet,” South coach Kyle Walsh said.
In addition to the distance standouts, junior Jordon Montgomery’s career best shot put and pole vaulter Nick Lee (11-feet-6) helped the Braves place sixth as a team despite the absence of several key athletes who are unlikely to return for the Big Four meet, a blow to the Braves’ depth.
Northview’s Nic Yocom (800, 1,600), Ian Heffner (300 hurdles) and Hunter Ragan (high jump) could be in contention for the Knights.
Terre Haute North’s offense put up big numbers Saturday in Indianapolis to improve to 12-5 overall and 5-0 in the MIC, with coach Jack Kirchner getting production throughout his lineup.
The Patriots will face off against Terre Haute South for the second time this season Tuesday at South. The Patriots may have Allison Crick, last year’s ace pitcher, back from injury for that game.
South, 11-6 after splitting its two games in Indianapolis on Saturday, has speed, particularly at the top of the order with Hollie Jones and Lexi Higgins. Shortstop/pitcher Kelsey Marlow (Western Illinois) and Higgins (Indiana State) are Division I recruits, and first baseman Mackenzie McGregor might be the best pure hitter in the area.
West Vigo (13-4) has shown to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Before Big Four action, the Vikings will look to win tonight at North Central, which has proven to be a Class A state championship contender.
The Vikings are led by sophomore pitcher Leah Morrison, who hit a home run in her pitching win Saturday, and by senior pitcher Hannah Harden.
This week’s rivalry matchups
Terre Haute North at Terre Haute South, 5 p.m.
West Vigo at Northview, 6 p.m.
Terre Haute North at Terre Haute South, 5 p.m.
West Vigo at Northview, 5 p.m.
Terre Haute North at Terre Haute South, 6 p.m. (MIC only)
Terre Haute South at Terre Haute North, 6 p.m. (Big Four/MIC/Traveling trophy)
Track and Field
Big Four meet at Terre Haute South, 1 p.m.
West Vigo vs. Terre Haute South, 11 a.m.
Terre Haute North vs. Northview, 1:30 p.m.
TH South vs. Northview, 10 a.m.; TH North vs. West Vigo, 10 a.m.; TH South vs. West Vigo, Noon; TH North vs. Northview, noon.
Monday, May 12
Terre Haute North at West Vigo, 6 p.m.; Northview at Terre Haute South, 6 p.m.