News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 1, 2014

Season preview: Vigo County, Northview baseball teams ready to roll

TERRE HAUTE — To no one’s surprise, Wabash Valley baseball fans don’t have to leave Vigo County — although they certainly could, as described later in this article — to find talented baseball players on the high school diamond this spring.

Terre Haute North has a quartet of .300 hitters returning — Zach Milam, Jonathan Eilbracht, Nathan Will and Lane Dransfield — in addition to super sophomore T.J. Collett, who led the Patriots with a team-best 50 runs batted in for the 24-7 Patriots last season. Collett hit .424 with six doubles, two triples and nine home runs as a freshman.

“T.J. is a special kind of player. Not only at the plate. If you haven’t seen him hit, you’ve really missing out,” coach Shawn Turner said. “He puts in the extra time to refine his swing. ... The bat speed he has is tremendous. The work ethic is unparalleled.”

The Patriots also return all of their pitching, led by senior ace Austin Hicks, who went 9-2 last spring.

The baseball performances on the South side will be stout as well.

South freshman Justin Jenkins started in center field and hit .366 for the Braves, who have four other players returning after hitting over .300 a season ago. Senior shortstop Jacob Johnson hit .333, while Jared Wolfe and Mitchell Clinkenbeard also eclipsed .300.

“We’ve got a lot of depth offensively,” South coach Kyle Kraemer said.

West Vigo returns three boys — Brandin Berringer, Davey Inman and Derrick Bennett — who batted in the middle of the Vikings’ batting order during a 21-win campaign.

The Vikings also have a freshman with a bright future in 6-foot-3, 235-pound Ty Lautenschlager, a left-handed hitting first baseman.

“He could be one of the better hitters to come out of here by the time it’s said and done,” first-year coach Culley DeGroote said. “He’s got a lot of potential.”

Over in Brazil, enthusiastic first-year coach Craig Trout has two Northview players that should be among the Valley’s leaders in hitting.

Connor Pierce is a .380 career hitter and Bo Stewart is coming off a season in which he surpassed .400.

“I’m super excited. If we can be disciplined and fundamental, this team can win a lot of baseball games. The potential’s there, but we’ve got to work for it,” Trout said.

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Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterLeader: Tom Jones is leading going into Sunday's final round of the Men's City Championship at Hulman Links on Sunday.

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SPT 072614 TOM JONES LEADER.jpg

Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterLeader: Tom Jones is leading going into Sunday's final round of the Men's City Championship at Hulman Links on Sunday.

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