Several Wabash Valley teams — mostly of the smaller variety — will compete in IHSAA regionals and semistates Saturday with hopes of advancing to the next weekend.
In regional baseball action, South Vermillion will take on Speedway in the second Class 2A game at Park Tudor at approximately 1 p.m. If coach Tim Terry's Wildcats win, they'll face the Hagerstown-Indianapolis Scecina survivor for the regional title at 7 p.m.
Hagerstown was ranked No. 1 in the final Class 2A regular-season poll.
Some of South Vermillion's key performers have been seniors Bryce McLeish (catcher) and Cooper Terry (shortstop, third base and pitcher) and junior Connor VanLannen (pitcher and shortstop). Pitching-wise, the Wildcats' top records are VanLannen at 7-1 and Cooper Terry at 6-1.
"We've been up and down," assessed Tim Terry, who said he hadn't decided which pitcher would start against Speedway. "When one person got in a slump, somebody else was doing well. That's been what's kept us alive. We're hoping that everybody is hitting at the same time now."
Incidentally, South Vermillion's only baseball regional championship came in 1979. So a title Saturday would be its first in 40 years.
Two Class A baseball squads also qualified for regionals — Shakamak at Morristown and No. 10-ranked Riverton Parke at Carroll (Flora). Riverton Parke will challenge No. 2 Rossville at 11 a.m., while Shakamak will battle No. 3 Rising Sun at noon. Saturday night's championship matchups will begin at 7 at Morristown and 7:30 at Carroll (Flora).
"I know Rossville has 11 seniors," Riverton Parke coach Charlie Martin told the Tribune-Star. "A lot of them played on their team that was state runner-up two years ago. Looking at their schedule, I know they played a really tough schedule.
"As for us, our pitching is our strength. Our two guys [junior right-hander Garrett Lawson with a record of 6-2 and junior lefty Logan Harrison at 7-1] are pretty tough. Lawson will start the first game."
The Panthers' leading batsmen have been sophomore Pierson Barnes (catcher), Lawson (pitcher and first base) and junior B.J. Hopton (second base and lead-off man).
From the Shakamak baseball perspective, coach Todd Gambill admitted his crew found different ways to win in claiming the White River Valley Sectional championship Monday. He acknowledged the Lakers might have their hands full with Rising Sun.
"Like most 1A schools, they have a good No. 1 pitcher [senior Brayden Bush]," Gambill said of the Shiners (clever school nickname). "They've played some pretty good competition at times. I don't know if their schedule is any better than ours, but ... On paper, I think we match up pretty well."
Not surprisingly, Gambill believes his team has a good chance of getting past its highly ranked opponent.
"Putting a lot of balls in play is a key for us," he explained. "When we do that, we've been pretty successful against most teams we've played."
Senior right-hander Levi Webb (3-3) is likely to start on the mound against Rising Sun, Gambill noted.
South Vermillion's softball team will be playing Saturday as well, with the Wildcats meeting Tecumseh at about 1 p.m. in the Class 2A Forest Park Semistate. The winner will clash with the Paoli-Union County victor for the semistate championship at 7 p.m.
Coach Boomer Grange's Wildcats, who captured their first regional crown in school history Tuesday, are led by seniors Hannah Grange (second base, pitcher and the coach's daughter) and Regan Godfrey (pitcher) and sophomores Tori Linnenkamp (third base), Allison Schawitsch (center field) and Hailey Boardman (shortstop and pitcher).
Godfrey, a left-hander with an 11-3 record, is expected to pitch Saturday afternoon.
In the final Class 2A regular-season poll, Tecumseh was tied for the top spot with Bremen.
"They're just a quality, well-disciplined, well-coached team," Boomer Grange said of the Braves from Lynnville. "They've got above-average pitching and some strong hitters. They're also a very consistent defensive team."
The fourth-year head coach added that his own team will be no pushover for anyone left in the state tournament.
"Right now, we're dangerous," Boomer Grange emphasized. "We've got a mindset that we're loose, we're confident and we're playing together."
Turning to Class A semistate softball, North Vermillion will square off against Fremont in the second game at Frankfort, starting at approximately 1 p.m. Then the championship tilt is slated for 7 Saturday night.