South Vermillion has one high school baseball omen working in its favor today when the Wildcats meet Southridge at the Class 2A Jasper Semistate.
And one significant roadblock.
The 24-5 Wildcats and the 16-8 Raiders meet in the second game at Jasper — weather permitting — after a 1 p.m. Class A semistate game between Tecumseh and University. The two winners at Jasper will represent the south in state championship games at Victory Field on either June 17 or June 18.
The Raiders made it to Victory Field a year ago, losing 5-4 to Boone Grove in the Class 2A championship game, and have a significant number of players remaining from that team.
Including Colson Montgomery.
The Wildcats will be getting their first look at one of the best athletes in the state today. Montgomery, a 6-foot-5 left-handed hitter who plays shortstop for Southridge, is a sophomore who is also a two-year starter in basketball (21.1 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game this winter) and last fall’s starting quarterback for the Raiders (approximately 1,000 yards passing and 1,100 yards rushing). He’s giving up football this coming fall to concentrate on the other two sports, in which he’s a Division I recruit in both and a potential baseball draftee two springs from now.
Closest call the Raiders have had in tournament play so far has been their sectional championship game, when they beat fifth-ranked Linton 6-4.
Coach Matt Fougerousse of the Miners told the Tribune-Star that some unaccustomed defensive issues in the outfield cost Linton a couple of runs in that game, but he came away impressed with the Raiders despite their modest record.
“They’re pretty solid one through nine, not a weak stick in the lineup,” Fougerousse said, “and they play a good schedule.”
The Wildcats, fresh off a championship of a regional that included the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team, will do what they always do: show up and play.
“We’ve taken it one game at a time all year,” said newly coiffed South Vermillion coach Tim Terry earlier this week. “Anytime you play anybody, they’re your most important game.”
Terry got his promised mohawk hair cut on Friday, a promise made to the Wildcats after they won the regional with their new hairdo’s.
South Vermillion was primed for revenge and got it last week, when the Wildcats beat Indianapolis Scecina in the regional championship game. But even though they have no simmering issues with Southridge, they said this week they’d be ready to play.
“The opportunity we have, to possibly play at Victory Field [will be enough],” promised senior infielder/pitcher Cooper Terry, the coach’s son.
“Now that we have that taste [of winning a regional] in our mouths, we’re excited to see what the semistate tastes like,” added Bryce McLeish.
“We’re pretty excited, and we’re going to attack it with everything we have,” said infielder/pitcher Isaac Wanninger. “Any team you play at this point’s a really good team; we just have to keep our heads and play our best ballgame.”
The Wildcats demonstrated their pitching depth in their two regional wins, with Connor VanLannen and Cooper Terry getting the starts but Wanninger finishing both games — saving the 2-1 win over Speedway for VanLannen, then becoming the winning pitcher when he and his teammates rallied for their 5-4 win over Scecina.
South Vermillion also showed that it too has a lineup that’s dangerous one through nine and, as mentioned before, there’s that omen to consider.
The Wildcats will be playing at Alvin C. Ruxer Field, where teams of Wildcats wearing black and gold uniforms probably have a winning percentage close to .900.
• The what-ifs — At least two other Wabash Valley teams can say with some justification that they could have been playing in semistates today.
In Class 4A action at Mooresville, Columbus East meets Avon — the Avon team that needed extra innings for a 1-0 win over Northview at the Terre Haute North Sectional.
And in Class A tournament play at Plymouth, Washington Township plays Rossville, the team that barely held off Riverton Parke 4-3 in the first round of regional play last week.