For almost a year — 360 days, someone said — it festered.

South Vermillion’s high school baseball players had their 2018 season ended in the Class 2A regional championship game by Indianapolis Scecina, a 7-6 decision in which Scecina used its ace pitcher illegally without penalty — at least without a penalty that did anything for the Wildcats.

How often, some of them were asked this week, did they think about that game.

“Pretty much every day since it happened,” catcher Bryce McLeish said.

“Ever since that day,” infielder/pitcher Isaac Wanninger agreed.

Naturally then, as the Wildcats made their way into the 2019 postseason tournament, they became Scecina’s biggest fans.

“The biggest thing was revenge,” explained Cooper Terry, another infielder/pitcher and the son of South Vermillion coach Tim Terry. “We felt we let that one slip away [a year ago] . . . we knew we didn’t play our best game, and then we had some hope [when the pitching situation was confirmed], and then that was taken away [when the Indiana High School Athletic Association suspended the pitcher but didn’t penalize Scecina otherwise].”

“We knew we had to work hard to get back [to the regional], and hopefully play Scecina again,” said Wanninger.  

“We knew we wanted to win, but it would be a lot sweeter if Scecina would win too, and that’s exactly what we got,” added McLeish.

The Wildcats did their part, winning the North Putnam Sectional and earning a spot in the second game of the regional against Speedway. Scecina also won its sectional.

, but had to play top-ranked Hagerstown in the first game Saturday at Park Tudor.

With the Wildcats cheering them on, the Crusaders — and Mac Ayres, the pitcher from a year ago — upset Hagerstown. South Vermillion, getting a pitching win from Connor VanLannen and a save from Wanninger, held off Speedway. And in the championship game the Wildcats, with Wanninger relieving Cooper Terry this time to pick up a win, rallied to beat Scecina 5-4.

“We got that opportunity we wanted, and we made sure we took full advantage of it,” said Cooper Terry, who had a four-hit game against Scecina and six hits for the regional.

“That game felt great,” McLeish said. “We got behind [4-2 going into the bottom of the fifth] . . . but we needed to win for this year’s team and last year’s team.”

Tim Terry, who entered this week with a haircut in his future, is still shaking his head.

“Isn’t it amazing how the stars lined up?” he asked this week.

Coach Terry (every Wildcat calls him that by the way, including his son) was disappointed last year, but not necessarily for the reason you might think.

Losing to Scecina in 2018 cost him at least another week with that team, and he wants his time with this year’s team to last as long as possible too.

“Not very many teams practicing today,” he said on a gorgeous Monday morning this week. “It’s so much fun when you have great attitudes and you can win . . . you don’t want the season to end when you’ve got the kind of kids you have.”

Those Wildcats decided last week, as one of their motivations for the regional, to get Mohawk-style haircuts. 

“They keep each other up; they don’t get down,” coach Terry said of his players. “They like each other, and they don’t want anyone feeling bad.”

To make sure their coach was aware of what they’d done, “We all took our hats off at practice,” Cooper Terry said, and their coach made the comment that if the Wildcats won the regional — for the first time since 1979, and the first one in Tim Terry’s 600-plus-win career — he would do the same.

“It was kind of a tradeoff: his first regional for his first Mohawk,” McLeish said.

The shearing didn’t take place early in the week, because the players agreed to let coach Terry keep his hair for the Wabash River Conference banquet on Wednesday. But after that? Maybe this morning?

“We’re not going to forget [the haircut],” Cooper Terry said.

 

 

Ancient sportswriter that hates the 21st Century.