ANDERSON — It’s hard to look at the Class 2A regional bracket in Wabash today and not dream a little about a potential all-Madison County final.
Alexandria (19-12) and Lapel (12-12) seem to be playing their best baseball at the best possible time. Their respective head coaches, Jeff Closser and Brad Lantz, are good friends who often text one another, and both programs have been building toward this moment for the past couple of years.
“We’ve got some very good talent in Madison County,” said Closser, whose son J.D. was named Indiana’s Mr. Baseball in 1998. “If both of us make it to the finals in the regional championship game, how much fun would that be?”
There’s no denying the fun factor, but the path to an all-county regional final is not an easy one.
Closser’s Tigers open tournament play at 11 a.m. against sixth-ranked Delphi (22-6), and Lapel follows at approximately 1 p.m. against No. 1-ranked Northfield (26-3).
The winners will meet at 8 p.m. for a regional title and a spot in next week’s semistate in Kokomo or South Bend.
Neither team is downplaying the challenge ahead, but they’re not about to shrink away from it, either.
“It’s a huge challenge, but our guys are ready for it,” Lantz said. “We know we’re way better than that 12-12 record. We lost a lot of games late in the game. But over the last couple of weeks, we’re playing much better and we’re closing out games.”
The Bulldogs are coming off impressive wins against Wapahani (by a score of 10-3) and Frankton (6-3) in the sectional, and they understand the nature of baseball puts them on solid ground even against top-ranked Northfield.
Ace Adam Taylor is 4-2 with a 1.53 ERA, and Lapel has five regulars batting above .320. Senior Jacob Troxell leads the way with a .432 average and is second on the team with 22 RBIs.